Bears

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 CSNChicago.com 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:

YEAR QUARTERBACK RECORD
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.”

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

Pro Football Focus: Khalil Mack is NFL’s most valuable edge rusher

It didn’t take the Bears long to see how valuable Khalil Mack is to their defense, elevating the group from the moment he first stepped on the field.

He’s been among the league’s best outside linebackers since he first broke out in 2015, and the analytics back up the eye test.

He was the highest edge defender on Pro Football Focus’ list of the top 50 players in the NFL, and their “wins above replacement” metric shows why.

It’s Mack and Von Miller, then everyone else.

“Foremost, Mack is a slightly more complete player than Miller when it comes to defending the run,” PFF’s Ben Linsey wrote. “Yes, run defense is significantly less important than an edge rusher’s ability to disrupt the quarterback, but with so little difference between the players, everything gets put under the magnifying glass.”

Over the past four seasons, both players have exactly 49 sacks, although Mack missed two games over that span. The Bears outside linebacker has the edge in interceptions, forced fumbles and tackles for loss, most coming with a lower quality defense around him than what Miller has had in Denver.

It’s no surprise Ryan Pace was willing to trade multiple first-round picks to make Mack the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history. He’s the best in the league.

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Projected lineups for Eddie Jackson’s charity softball game

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USA Today

Projected lineups for Eddie Jackson’s charity softball game

Eddie Jackson is hosting a charity softball game this Saturday, June 15th at Schamburg Boomers stadium at 5:05pm. It’ll be offense vs defense so let’s take an early look at what these lineups might look like for both teams.

Defense

1. Eddie Jackson

Has home run hitting ability in the leadoff spot and a flair for the dramatic. This rising star puts the pressure on the opposing pitcher from the very first pitch. Plus it’s his game, so of course he’s batting first.

2. Kyle Fuller

Tied for the NFL interception lead in 2018, Fuller’s combination of speed, instincts and film study  at the top of the lineup helps set the table for the big bats.

3. Akiem Hicks

As Ed O’Bradovich said at the 100 year celebration this past weekend, Khalil Mack “is a man-eater, but (Akiem Hicks) is the man who makes it happen.” It’s long been said you put your most important hitter in the 3-hole.

4. Khalil Mack

The quintessential cleanup hitter. Who else would you want in this spot?

5. Danny Trevathan

Provides world champion protection behind Mack in the likely event that the opponent tries to pitch around #52.

6. Roquan Smith

Just when an opponent think they’ve gotten thru the heart of the lineup, the 2018 rookie who came up just shy of Brian Urlacher’s franchise tackling mark is there to “break a man,” as he said right after his Bears intro press conference.

7. Ha-Ha Clinton Dix

Sliding this new addition into the 7-hole takes some of the pressure off of him to make an immediate impact, while also trapping pitchers into thinking they might get a break against a guy who has shown big play ability in the past.

8. Bilal Nichols

One of the most underrated players in the entire league is perfectly fine lurking at the bottom of the order. A second cleanup hitter, he’s happy consistently performing and making his teammates better. Everyone in this lineup knows how valuable he is.

9. Leonard Floyd

Still in a bit of a prove it spot, but if he consistently plays the way he’s shown shown flashes of, he could not only be dangerous in this spot, but he could climb up the lineup pretty quickly.

10. Prince Amukamara

Veteran who knows he’s there to do a job and turn the lineup over. His speed and ball skills make him a threat.

11. Buster Skrine

Another newcomer, let’s see what he’s got at the bottom of the order.

Offense

1. Taylor Gabriel   *Anthony Miller

We can all agree there’s no reason for Miller, a guy who dislocated his shoulder multiple times to be swinging a bat amiright?? Miller has the Willie Mayes Hayes swag you want from the leadoff man when healthy tho.

As for ‘Turbo’ Taylor Gabriel, of course you’re putting a guy who’s been clocked at 23 mph at the top of the lineup.

2. Tarik Cohen

Perfect spot for the swiss army knife of the offense. Could lay down a bunt and beat it out, move the runner, or even hit one to the gap and clear the bases.

3. Mitch Trubisky

The obvious spot for the leader of the offense and Akiem Hicks’ pick (outside himself) to win the home run derby part of this event. Let’s just hope he breaks out the punky QB headband and sunglasses look again this weekend.

4. Kyle Long

The most veteran member of the offensive line is there to protect the QB. Whether or not he’s even in the lineup, if anyone goes high and tight on # 10, better believe they’ll answer to #75.

5. Cody Whitehair

Some more muscle in the middle of the order. Has made it clear he’s good with moving around the lineup if the coaches think it’s best for the team.

6. Allen Robinson

Based on what we saw in the playoff game, he could be on his way to putting up big numbers anywhere in the batting order. Definitely a guy you want up late with the game on the line.

7. Charles Leno

Flies under the radar at one of the most important positions in football. If a pitcher thinks he’s in the clear after getting past Robinson, Leno will be there to throw a big block into that thinking.

8. Trey Burton / Adam Shaheen

When healthy, they provide some pop towards the bottom of the lineup. Let’s have Anthony Miller ready as the designated runner if these guys can get on base.

9. Bobby Massie

The ultimate team guy as he showed by signing a team friendly deal to stay in Chicago much earlier in the offseason than he had to.

10. James Daniels

As the new man in the middle on the offensive line, the burden falls on him to turn the lineup over and set the table for the speedy top of the order.

11. Mike Davis

Good spot to start for this new addition. Could easily see him towards the top of the lineup if he produces the way Matt Nagy & company thinks he can.

The defense has been ahead of the offense for pretty much the entire Pace/Nagy regime. But if Matt Nagy is involved, there’s sure to be no shortage of hidden ball tricks, squeezes and other trick plays with awesome names, so I might have to give a slight edge to the offense in this game.