For wobbling Bears, Brian Hoyer brings different kinds of experience

For wobbling Bears, Brian Hoyer brings different kinds of experience

The fate of the Bears with backup quarterbacks stepping has been, well, mixed. With a record of 0-2 after two weeks of wobbling on offense, the 2016 Bears need more than “mixed.”

It was with that in mind when the Bears chose to sign Brian Hoyer as Jay Cutler’s understudy and not cast their fortunes into the hands of an unknown quarterback prospect as a replacement for Cutler.

The Hoyer the Bears are getting now is not the same one that filled in with the New England Patriots (2009, 2010 and 2011), the Arizona Cardinals (2012), Cleveland Browns (2013) and Houston Texans last year, when he was in and out as the starter for a team that opened 0-2, fell to 1-4 and then recovered to make the playoffs.

“The one thing I have now that I didn’t those first years is playing experience,” Hoyer told before Cutler sustained the thumb injury that now puts Hoyer again in a starting lineup for a fourth NFL team since coming into the league as a Patriots undrafted free agent out of Michigan State in 2009.

“If I’d had to go in those first couple years, without having played before, I think I’d have been a little overwhelmed. Now I’ve been a starter for two different teams, played in a lot of games, and you just prepare the best you can and go out and play."

[MORE: Bears need to avoid internal strife as on-field problems mount]

Hoyer has a 15-11 record as a starter, a better win-loss percentage than Jay Cutler. But since the Bears rallied to the 2005 playoffs when rookie Kyle Orton took over when Rex Grossman was injured, results have been generally poor when a second-stringer has had to step up.

The Bears are 10-15 in games started by No. 2 quarterbacks, and most of those with veteran backups, not developmental prospects:

2007 Brian Griese 3-3
2007 Kyle Orton 2-1
2008 Rex Grossman 0-1
2010 Todd Collins 1-0
2011 Caleb Hanie 0-4
2011 Josh McCown 1-1
2012 Jason Campbell 0-1
2013 Josh McCown 3-2
2014 Jimmy Clausen 0-1
2015 Jimmy Clausen 0-1

Now comes Hoyer, who has worked to be a student of the offense and understands, “it’s about realizing your role,” Hoyer said. “When I was in Cleveland, Houston, that was my job to job, to be the starting quarterback. Here, Jay’s the starter and it’s up to me to be the best backup quarterback I can be and help him, and help our team win.”

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Hoyer came off the bench to completed nine of 12 passes for 78 yards in the loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Now the lead role to turn around a slipping Bears season is all his. And he has forcefully made one point already:

“I was on a team that 0-2 last year, too,” Hoyer said, recalling the 2015 Houston Texans. “At one point, we were 2-5 and we made the playoffs. I think a lot is made early on, trying to get things together. But it’s a long season.

“That’s the biggest thing to stress. You know what, don’t panic, go out and have a great week of practice and go out there on Sunday night and improve and get better. I think that’s the main thing. Sure, the first two games didn’t go the way we wanted them too. But there’s 14 left. I think that’s the way you got to look at it.”

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller sports Bears uniform at NFLPA Rookie Premiere

Anthony Miller has quickly become a fan favorite on social media. He has the confidence and swagger found in most top wide receivers and it comes through on his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

Miller was one of 40 players in attendance at the 2018 NFLPA Rookie Premiere where he not only learned about the business and marketing side of football, but also suited up in his Bears gameday uniform for the first time. Of course, he shared the moment on Twitter:

Panini America, a sports collectible company, snapped a picture of Miller with fellow rookie receiver Calvin Ridley (Falcons) and quarterback Mason Rudolph (Steelers):

Miller has become something of a standout for the Bears despite not playing a single snap. He's expected to have a big role in an offense that has several new pieces and roles that are up for grabs.

Miller will compete with former first-round pick Kevin White and free-agent addition Taylor Gabriel for reps opposite Allen Robinson. Miller has the necessary skill set to play as both an outside receiver and in the slot which should give him an even greater opportunity to be on the field quite a bit.

The Bears first three draft picks are all vying for starting jobs in 2018. Roquan Smith (first round) is a lock to start next to Danny Trevathan and James Daniels (second round) will start at guard. Miller should make it three-for-three in a draft class that could end up the best of Ryan Pace's tenure.

Ryan Pace ranked among bottom-third of NFL general managers

Ryan Pace ranked among bottom-third of NFL general managers

Chicago Bears GM Ryan Pace is having what many believe is his best offseason since taking the job in 2015, but after three seasons and only 14 wins, he needs a big year in 2018 to justify the confidence ownership has in him. 

According to a recent breakdown of all 32 general managers, Pace ranks among the worst decision-makers in the league.

No. 23: Ryan Pace, Chicago Bears

There’s only so much you can accomplish in one spring. The problem is that Pace let himself accumulate so many needs to begin with. He needs Trubisky and Nagy to springboard a fourth-year turnaround. 

The rankings didn't include six new GM hires, which makes Pace's positioning even more troubling.

Even though the Bears haven't seen wins on the field, Pace has done a solid job through three draft classes and appears to have the right coaching staff in place. His first hire, John Fox, was a calculated move by a rookie general manager to have an experienced football guy to lean on. Now, several offseasons later, the team is starting to take on his identity.

Despite all the talent Pace has added through the draft and the slow but steady transformation of the team's overall culture, it's a win-now business and if his blueprint doesn't start producing more wins than losses, it will be hard to justify more time and patience for his plan to develop.