The spotlight was on Peyton Maning on Thursday night. Having said that, there were three other Broncos quarterbacks that played vs. the Bears, and two of them were Caleb Hanie and Brock Osweiler.
Hanie, Osweiler and Adam Weber are competing for the backup quarterback gig behind Manning. As of right now, Hanie has the inside track, although Osweiler isn't far behind as the third-string quarterback. Weber is currently listed as the fourth quarterback. The Broncos went in the depth-chart order in Chicago, allowing Manning to start off the game with one drive, before giving Hanie the rest of the first and the entire second quarters to work with the second-team offense. Osweiler played the entire third quarter with the third-string offense.
Here are how both quarterbacks looked on Thursday night in auditioning for the backup gig in a quick analysis.
While watching Hanie vs. the Bears a couple of days ago, all I could think about was how Hanie looked exactly like the quarterback that he was in Chicago in the four games that he started last year, and in his NFC Championship game relief appearance, when he spelled Jay Cutler two seasons ago. Wildy inconsistent, great at making plays with his legs when the pocket collapses, overthrown passes to open targets, and some nice completions mixed in there.
Hanie went 7/14 for 79 yards, with no touchdowns and interceptions. He led one touchdown drive which went for 52 yards in seven plays in the second quarter, which ended with a three yard touchdown run by Xavier Omon.
Hanie had five drives to work with. His first drive began at the CHI 6, with Denver in prime position to score a touchdown. What this drive resulted in was the Broncos kicking a field goal after three plays which resulted in -4 yards gained. Here was the problem with this drive – Hanie threw two passes on second and third downs. One was a pass to TE Clint Ingram out in the flats, in which there was no defender with several yards of Ingram. What this resulted in was an overthrew by Hanie.
The second pass was on a fade route to Matthew Willis towards the right side of the end zone. What this resulted in was an overthrow by Hanie yet again, not giving Willis a chance to haul the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. The one positive of this drive was that he didn't turn the ball over.
Outside of Denver's one touchdown drive led by Hanie, in which he did have a nice 20 yard completion to Ingram to atone for his earlier mistake in the first quarter, Hanie's four drives during the first and second quarters went for 27 plays and 65 yards. For those that know how to do math, that's a little over two yards per play. That's against a second-string defense.
What do you deduct from one preseason performance by Hanie? Although there are three more preseason games to go, this is Hanie as a quarterback in a nutshell – if this guy steps in to be your starting quarterback after an injury to your starting quarterback a la Jay Cutler or Peyton Manning, your team is simply screwed.
Why is this? Hanie is too inconsistent and hesitant with his decision making. His strengths lie in his mobility and his ability to improvise. I would go so far as to say that he is one of the better quarterbacks in the league at making something out of nothing. There were several runs that he had in the first quarter that were as a result of bad pass protection by the second-team offensive line. He made plays that guys not named Vince Young, Tim Tebow and Michael Vick cannot make.
Having said that, when it comes to his play in the pocket, he overthrows open receivers, although he will make the nice completion from time to time. If his first or second read is covered, he is too indecisive and either stands in the pocket too long to take a sack, runs around too long to improvise, which eventually results in a sack (Shea McClellin's 10 yard sack on Hanie was an example of this), or simply throws an incompletion.
Caleb is the perfect quarterback to have as a third-stringer with little film of him. He can improvise and lead a team back when an opposing team does not expect him to play. This was evidenced by his solid performance in the NFC Championship game as a sub for the even worse Todd Collins. He was within 20 or so yards of tying the game for the Bears.
Hanie had an OK performance on Thursday night, but he is better suited to be a third-string quarterback in this league, rather than as a backup. His 0-4 performance for the Bears in 2011 displayed that.
Osweiler on the other hand had three drives, two of them which resulted in touchdowns. One of them was a beautiful 19 yard touchdown pass to Jason Hill over the seam which was timed perfectly. Overall, Osweiler had a better night than Hanie. Osweiler led touchdown drives that went for 52 and 60 yards.
He finished the night 4/7 for 37 yards and a touchdown. He looked poised, remained in the pocket comfortably and had good timing with his receivers.
Having said that, Hanie did face a second-string defense. Osweiler faced the third-team defense. Keep that in mind when analyzing these performances. I don't know what to exactly expect in Denver's preseason home opener vs. Seattle next week. What I mean by that is, does Osweiler get a chance with the second-team offense against the second-team defense to show if he's better against backups than Hanie? Or does the same order remain the same, with Manning, Hannie, Osweiler and Weber vs. Seattle?
I would hope John Fox does something similar to what he did last preseason, with the rotation of Tim Tebow and Brady Quinn as backup quarterbacks in each of the four preseason games.
Osweiler improved his stock for the backup job, while Hanie didn't look great, but he didn't look bad either.
The next three preseason games will display which one of these quarterbacks deserve the backup gig.
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