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."
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:
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.”