Time to give Enderle a chance at QB?

With Caleb Hanie struggling mightily through three consecutive starts -- leading the offense to a 2-26 mark on third downs the past two weeks -- it might be time to consider other options.

Now might be the perfect time for the Bears to reconsider their depth chart at quarterback.

Maybe it's time for them to give rookie Nathan Enderle a shot.

Even without the benefit of any offseason programs, the Bengals' Andy Dalton, the Panthers' Cam Newton, the Texans' T.J. Yates and the Vikings' Christian Ponder have all played impressively this season as rookies. Dalton (82.1), Yates (82.3) and Newton (81.1) all have solid passer ratings, and Ponder, playing with a bad team, is at 73.4. Even Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert (65.3) has shown improved lately after a rocky start with a weak team.

All of them have higher passer ratings than Caleb Hanie's 48.6, and Enderle has the experience of having started 45 games at Idaho. Hanie's been in the Bears' current system a year longer, but he started just 28 games at Colorado State.

Sure, Enderle was a fifth-round draft pick, but so was Yates, and Hanie was undrafted. Why not see what Enderle can do? It couldn't be much worse.

Another thing the Bears might want to consider, as they attempt to rebound from their current three-game losing streak, is their arrogance.

When asked about the performance of Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, the Bears' seven-time Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher said, "He's a good running back."

That just makes the Bears' defense look pathetic. With the game on the line, Tebow the running back rallied his team from a 10-point deficit by completing 18 of 24 passes for 191 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter and overtime. Those are pretty good passing numbers for a running back.

If a running back can throw that well against the Chicago defense, which is seemingly the strength of the Bears, it doesn't bode well for what's left of Chicago's playoff chances.

And all the Bears' tall talk in the week leading up to the Broncos game -- about how the Denver altitude wouldn't affect them, how the no-huddle wouldn't bother them -- rings a little hollow in light of their late collapse. They were clearly gassed late in the game, with linemen and cornerbacks rotating playing time. All week, coach Lovie Smith and his players scoffed at the notion that they might come up short in the conditioning department, but that appeared to be exactly the case when they were outscored 13-0 in the final 2:08 of regulation and overtime.

Starting with 4:34 remaining in regulation, Tebow completed 13 of 17 passes for 130 yards and a touchdown for a passer rating of 117.3.


--QB Caleb Hanie has a 48.6 passer rating after three NFL starts, all losses. He has two touchdown passes and six interceptions and has been sacked 15 times while completing just 51.9 percent of his passes.

--RB Marion Barber has six rushing touchdowns, but he is averaging just 3.8 yards per carry, more than a full yard less than Matt Forte's 4.9. Barber had two catches for 32 yards last week.

--RB Matt Forte, who sprained his right knee early in Week 13, is not expected back for at least another week.

--RB Kahlil Bell could see his playing time increase after featured ball-carrier Marion Barber lost a critical fumble in overtime last week and ran out of bounds when the Bears were trying to kill the clock in regulation. Bell picked up 40 yards on nine carries in Week 14, and he caught five passes for 24 yards.

--TE Kellen Davis was blanked in Week 14, but he has four TD receptions and is averaging 12.5 yards on 14 grabs.

--WR Devin Hester failed to catch a pass for the fourth time in the past five games and is virtually a lock to finish with his least productive season since 2007, his first year as a wide receiver. He was drafted in 2006 as a cornerback.

--WR Roy Williams had an unfortunately typical game in Week 14 with two catches for 22 yards, giving him 26 catches for 357 yards.

--WR Johnny Knox led the Bears in Week 14 with 37 receiving yards on three catches. He has caught at least three passes in each of the past four games and leads the team with 712 receiving yards.

--WR Earl Bennett was shut out in Week 14, and he now has a total of two catches for 10 yards in QB Caleb Hanie's three starts.

--SS Craig Steltz played a strong all-around game stepping in for injured Major Wright and getting his first career sack while also forcing a Tim Tebow fumble that the Bears recovered.

--PK Robbie Gould kicked a personal-best and franchise-record 57-yard field goal, and he is 6-for-6 this season from 50 yards or longer. He was 5-for-9 from 50 yards or longer in his first six NFL seasons combined.

--DT Henry Melton had one sack for the third straight game, and he has four in his last five games.

--DE Julius Peppers had one sack Sunday and has seven in his last eight games.

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