Chicago Sun-Times

27 days to Camp: Breaking down the quarterback position

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In our daily countdown to training camp, we'll cover all the positions, one day at a time. Why not start with what will be the most watched position in camp, quarterback?

Projected starter: Jay Cutler, 6-3, 233 pounds, 4th year, Vanderbilt


Brett Basanez, 6-1, 208, 2nd year, Northwestern
Caleb Hanie, 6-2, 225, 2nd year, Colorado State

Projected depth chart: Cutler, Hanie, Basanez

2009 salary cap numbers

Basanez $402,280
Cutler $1,560,000
Hanie $391,866

Number of quarterbacks on 2008 roster at start of the season: 3

Projected number of quarterbacks on 2009 roster at start of the season: 3

The skinny: Cutler is the most anticipated quarterback the Bears have had since the arrival of Jim McMahon more than a quarter-century ago. He possesses one of the most talented arms in the entire league and is being counted on to dramatically improve the production of a wide receivers corps that many still doubt. Cutler can make every throw on the field--he'll dazzle you with his arm strength at training camp--and should benefit from the presence of running back Matt Forte. One knock on Cutler has been his decision making. Sometimes he counts on his arm too much to slide the ball into spots it shouldn't go. But the Bears don't want to curb his aggressive nature. That is one of his strengths, after all. An awful lot has been made of the backup position with two unproven players in Hanie and Basanez but what's left out there to pursue? The bet is that Hanie will be every bit as good as a player on the discard pile right now. Basanez is a dink and dunk passer who will know the system inside out but can't make all the throws. Keep an eye on Hanie. He throws a nice deep ball.

The upside: Cutler tops the 25 touchdowns he threw last season in Denver and comes close to throwing for 4,000 yards and he earns a Pro Bowl selection and guides the Bears to the postseason.

The downside: There can't be a downside to having Cutler, can there? Sure, injury could strike but you can say the same thing about 31 other teams. Unfortunately, not everyone is outfitted with a Matt Cassel. Not even the New England Patriots.

On the hot seat: Naturally, Cutler will be asked to perform but Hanie will have to deliver in preseason and should get ample playing time. He needs to prove he's ready to be called on at any time.

Final thought: The Bears could go with just two quarterbacks on the roster like they mulled over last season but given the unproven nature of Hanie and Basanez both, that is unlikely. Still, it's worth considering as it's a great way to get some more roster flexibility.

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My opinion is that Hanie will prove to be an adequate back-up to Cutler. Keep Basanez around till final cut, if he proves to be a guy the Bears can't live without, then keep 3 QB's. If he proves to be absolutely nothing special, dump him and keep the extra receiver or the guy with only special team value. The extra roster
spot, with two QB's, could be the spot the Bears need to add a veteran receiver or a young lineman. Yes, it would give the Bears flexiblity in putting the final touches on the roster! Go Bears!

Isn't Vasher the Emergency #4 :-)

Brad its really great to have you back! My Bears info crave had racheted up to squall-like levels in your absence... The Creighton in pink panties slap stych can only entertain for so long until one begins to beg the question as to why so many dudes want to see this dude in panties anyway... I digress. Brad would love to know whether or not there is any real talk in regards to expanding the role of Garrett Wolfe in the area of Special Teams? I saw him in action and to see this combination of speed, quick twitch, scatback ability go pretty much ignored makes me wonder. Any insight here Brad? Bear Down in Englewood

38 years as a bears fan... I am pretty biased but if Cutler (and I hope he is) is a great QB then he will naturally improve the recievers around him just as all great players do. ie; Jordan, Peyton, Bird, Manning, Farve ect...

I do not believe anyone thought Denvers recievers were great before Cutler??? Not sure but now they seem to think they are premier?

Great depth for the QB's. Hanie and Basanez are young and unknown. But that is better than having a Grossman that is known for a fact to suck. Doesn't matter, Hanie will only see the field in the 4th quarters this year as the Bears rest their regulars while up 30 plus points.

Not that it's that critical, but why haven't the Bears ever pursued a "bruising" type of fullback like a Laron McClain (Baltimore) that will wear a defense out with that big offensive line, and the threat of Cutler throwing it downfield? It seems like there should be plenty of backs with the capability of running straight forward that weigh over 240 lbs.

Anyways.... It will be interesting to see who wins the 2 starting receiver spots, and the Free Safety position in camp. Those are the only battles I can see going on. Maybe the guard positions as well.


If the Bears decide to keep just two QBs on the active roster, is Basanez elligable for the practice squad? If a team does keep their 3rd QB on the practice squad, the only real danger is if two QBs get hurt in the same game, right?

i totally agree with you, I believe Hanie being able to learn under Cutler only enhances the bears chance at solidifying the QB position for years to come !(no need to be repetitive about our futitlity at QB)!

Agree with you on Hanie. I was impressed by his preseason performance last year. Just a shame Lovie didn't let him play while Kyle was hobbling around on one foot after the Rexaster. I think he would have done just fine. No worse than Rex.
I know that everyone would love to see an experience WR to offset Devin, and hopefully they'll find someone who doesn't have a lot of character issues like the current batch available. They may by good players but they just crave too much media attention. Would like to see someone who could help mentor our current WR's.
One thing for sure: If JCut get's the job done as he seems confident he will, It is going to be one fun season of football to watch!

Seriously, We need to keep 3 QBs!!! It's the most important position on the team! Basanez will at least know the offense; it's not possible to bring someone in mid season in case our No 1 and No 2 go down.

we should have kept Grossman as the backup QB

I think with a little time, Jay Cutler will be fine. Cutler and Bears offensive coordinator Ron Turner should work fine together, much like Turner and Erik Kramer did back in 1995. Not only does Jay Cutler have an arm like no other Ron Turner has worked with, but Cutler's ability to buy time in the pocket is gonna be something new to Turner also. The Bears haven't had a QB with the ability to buy time in the pocket for awhile, this should also open a lot of things up for Turner's offense. I look for Cutler to put up some big numbers this season for the Bears.

At backup, Caleb Hanie is a young QB I've been wanting to check out since last pre-season. Hanie seems to possess a strong arm, and much like Cutler, seems to have the ability to buy time in the pocket. Hanie should be a nice one to watch develop. If Hanie can come out and gun it during the pre-season, he could make a name for himself much like Texans QB Matt Schaub did as a backup for himself in Atlanta. Hanie had a lot of teams intrigued coming out of college as a rookie free agent, a couple good showings in the pre-season, and maybe Chicago could have some pretty good trade bait on their hands. Chicago might not be able to get a 1st rounder for Hanie, but they could land a possible second rounder for Hanie next off-season with a strong showing during the pre-season, especially in a quarterback hungry league, just a thought, happy fourth of July and as always GO BEARS!!

No Thanks people I think two QB should suffice. This will allow us to get a good look at all the receivers in preseason. Thus, we would know if we should carry six or seven wide outs. Especially since, they do not seem to be interested in Plaxico anymore.

Bear Fan's we are technically 27 days away from all questions being answered. However, the one fact that I will bank on is that the receivers (TE's, RB's) included will be a major strength. I am high on Johnny Knox I believe he will be our Wes Welker but only 4X faster and quicker (that's saying a lot because I love Wes skills). 4.25 is speed no matter what level you are talking about but this guy actually has hands.

NFC North Champs and 2010 Super bowl Winners Da Bears!!!!

By Crazy Bear Fan on July 4, 2009 1:25 PM

"Bear Fan's we are technically 27 days away from all questions being answered."

How is the first day of Training Camp going to answer all of your questions?

Isn't it great, Bear fans, NO MORE ORTON!!!!!! My prayers have finally been answered!!! God bless America on this 4th of July!! NO MORE CRAP AT QB!!!!!

Um, keeping only two quarterbacks is just plain stupid. Teams that do it find themselves in deep doodoo as soon as their No. 1 gets hurt. Being too conservative is one thing, but you should always be prudent.

I predict that Grossman will not make it with kansas....and will not play in the nfl this year. He isn't even good enough to be a water boy.
So will you Grossman lovers please stop pushing that defective merchandise around here? Go peddle him to the new United football league that is just about to start up....he may have a chance there...and even that is a big maybe. He is done. Toast.

no need for 3 QB', Basanez is making more coin than Hanie?

yep, only keep 2 QB's...sign Simeon Rice


Your hatred only matches your ignorance. Grossman will not play for Kansas, that much you got right.

Grossman has a strong chance for playing this season with the Texans. Schaub has missed 5 games per season the last two years and Grossman is competing against Orlovsky for backup QB position.

Just think of the competition: Orlovsky playing in 7 games during four seasons vrs Grossman who played in the playoff, NFC Championship and Super Bowl. Go figure!

Every team needs 3 QBs. We kept 3 last season even while keeping a spot open for Chris Williams. All the speculation is just that ... Chicago will keep 3 and the only thing the preseason will determine is if Hanie can hold on to the #2 spot.

... And for the of CHRIST can we stop with the Rex Grossman Derangement Syndrome? Seriously please stop. It's almost as ignorant as NeckBeardsJiltedBoyfriend who keeps posting about a guy that was traded months ago. Please STFU.

Hey LeRoy Bob,
Are you still a resident of that town? Been there many a times especially drinking and playing volleyball at Mustang Sally's. One of my best friends lives there.

I think we should package a linebacker and some other pick or player that won't start here but will elsewhere to another team for a proven safety

I would keep just two QBs. How many times have you seen a third string QB come on to win a game? Second stringers, maybe, but when you get to your third stringer, chances are he is not going to decide the game; it has already been decided (a lop sided win or a defeat). When your second stringer goes down, run the ball, go wildcat, trick plays, punt on 3rd down. It won't make a difference.

That is, unless you have a young third string QB you want to develop. Is Brett that guy?


Thanks so much for sharing your views on the safety position during the middle of a discussion of the QB position makes about as much sense as ... well nothing really.

Why do we need 3 QB's on the roster, especially when the 3rd QB will be available if we do need him. And if we're forced to go to the 3rd QB, then, like all 31 other teams, the season is most likely over. I'm for carrying a player that will play, not a 6th or 7th WR, not a young OL who'll never even dress. I think it needs to be a special teams player who will be on the field for the majority of their plays.

Bearsfan4life: "Why do we need 3 QB's on the roster, especially when the 3rd QB will be available if we do need him."

Actually it's very simple. The 3rd QB knows the system and has time to develop. Granted, we do have Jay Cutler but Cutler could get hit by a bus two days before the season opener and Chicago would be back to square one.

Right now, even through the preseason, we won't know what we have in Basanez or Hanie. The good thing is that we will have two QB's who know the system.

Also, what extra position do we keep that makes keeping a 3rd QB a bad idea? You can only dress so many guys on Sunday anyway and your 3rd QB gets a free pass because of the injury concerns. Granted if you get to your 3rd-string QB by that time you're team is in trouble ... Just don't tell that to Kurt Warner of course.

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This page contains a single entry by Brad Biggs published on July 4, 2009 6:43 AM.

28 days to Camp: Reviewing the top 10 issues from a year ago was the previous entry in this blog.

26 days to Camp: Breaking down the action at defensive end is the next entry in this blog.

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