LAKE FOREST, Ill. — The struggling Chicago Bears just might have a new starting quarterback when they visit Green Bay this week. Then again, maybe not.
Coach Lovie Smith was noncommittal Monday when asked who will be behind center when the Bears (7-7) try to stop a four-game losing streak that has all but wiped them out of the postseason picture. A team that seemed to be a playoff lock just a few weeks ago is a long shot at best after getting blown out 38-14 by Seattle on Sunday.
"None of those decisions have been made with any of our position (players)," he said. "We evaluate the video, which we're doing right now, and come Wednesday — for you guys that are out here Wednesday — you'll have an idea then."
It's safe to assume that's one ugly video. The Bears were outscored 31-0 in the second half against the Seahawks and Caleb Hanie was brutal again filling in for the injured Jay Cutler before getting replaced late in the game by Josh McCown.
It was another poor performance by a team that was clicking in a big way until Cutler broke his right thumb trying to help make a tackle following a late interception in a win over San Diego on Nov. 20. He finished that game, but since then, the Bears have come unglued.
Chicago's fortunes took another big turn when Matt Forte sprained a ligament in his right knee two weeks later, leaving the offense without its two best players.
"It's been a tough four weeks," running back Kahlil Bell said.
As if losing two stars to injuries wasn't enough, receiver Sam Hurd's arrest on federal drug charges last week rocked the Bears. Then they watched as receiver Johnny Knox left the field on a cart with a back injury in the opening minutes on Sunday. He was having surgery Monday to stabilize a vetebra in his lower to mid back and will miss the rest of the season.
Smith, meanwhile, wasn't ruling out a return by Cutler or Forte even though the picture is looking bleak for the Bears.
"Whenever a player is healthy and ready to play, you play them," Smith said. "It's as simple as that. That's what we've said from the start. That's what we say with all of our players. We're just not going to sit a player if they're healthy and they're ready to go. Neither one of those players is healthy right now."
Hanie was brutal again on Sunday, going 10 of 23 for 111 yards and three interceptions. McCown got picked off, too, but Smith was quiet when asked who would start and how the snaps will be divided in practice this week.
He did, however, seem to rule out going with third-stringer Nathan Enderle, saying: "This isn't a tryout period, either. We're trying to win a football game. So the best guys that give us an opportunity to do that, of course talking with our coaching staff, will be on the field. No more than that."
The way they're playing, it's hard to envision the Bears winning at Green Bay or even Minnesota the following week. The backup quarterback spot has been a bugaboo the past few seasons, and it's biting them in a big way at the moment.
Veteran Todd Collins was a bust last year. Now, Hanie looks like he's playing his way out of Chicago — if not the league — after four seasons.
He has three times as many interceptions (nine) as touchdowns (three) and has completed just 51 of 102 passes, numbers that make it easy to see why he's never really appeared to be in great standing with offensive coordinator Mike Martz.
The Bears claimed Kyle Orton off waivers after Cutler went down, but Kansas City had priority and got him. They wound up bringing in McCown and took a pass on Donovan McNabb after Minnesota let him go.
"Right now, we're disappointed in our quarterback play," Smith said. "It hasn't been as good as we'd like it to be. But you can say that about other positions. A lot of times, with the backup quarterback, you don't know what you have until he has to play, and you start evaluating him and what you're doing after that. We have been in the position this year where we have seen quite a bit of our backup quarterback, and again, the play hasn't been what we need it to be."