Hoge: Brian Hoyer Is A Good Backup Quarterback — That’s It

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Brian Hoyer. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

Brian Hoyer. (Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images)

CHICAGO — Here we go again.

The Bears have a good backup quarterback, which means he must start over Jay Cutler.

In Chicago, that’s how it goes. And when the Bears don’t have a good backup quarterback (which is often), the general manager must be fired.

Because in Chicago, that’s how it goes.

Podcast — Intentional Grounding, Episode 53: Bears-Lions Postgame Show

But what’s so wrong about having a capable starting quarterback AND a capable backup quarterback?

That’s what the Bears have right now with Brian Hoyer filling in admirably the last two weeks while Cutler recovers from a severely sprained thumb on his throwing hand.

“I thought (Hoyer’s performance) was very good,” Bears head coach John Fox said. “It was very efficient. It was our best third-down percentage of the season thus far.”

Indeed, it was very good, as Hoyer completed 28-of-36 passes for 302 yards and two touchdowns for a passer rating of 120.1 as the Bears beat the Lions 17-14. Of course, that’s what the numbers should look like when the quarterback gets good pass protection in front of him and a running back (Jordan Howard) who runs for 111 yards on 23 carries.

“That comes with pass protection,” Fox said. “I thought the O-line did a good job with that. The receivers ran good routes and made some tough catches.”

Indeed, had Cutler received the same performances from his offensive teammates, he too would have thrived against a porous Detroit Lions defense.

And let’s not forget, the Bears still only scored 17 points Sunday.

Of course, Fox continues to feed the “Josh McCown Brian Hoyer Will Make The Bears Great Again” crowd with his typical vague responses that rarely can be classified as answers.

“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it,” he said when asked if Cutler will still be the starter when he gets healthy.

Chances are, Cutler will remain the starter. And he should. No one seemed to have a problem with him last year when he posted a career-high 92.3 passer rating and 21 touchdowns to only 11 interceptions. Since then, he’s only played two games and gutted both out with a thumb injury in his throwing hand.

On the bright side, Hoyer’s strong performance allows the Bears to be patient with Cutler’s thumb. Unlike when Jimmy Clausen was the backup, there’s no need to rush Cutler back, especially with the Colts and the Jaguars on the schedule the next two weeks.

That’s the benefit of having a good backup quarterback.

If you’ve watch Brian Hoyer’s career — and not just the last two games — then you know he’s a borderline NFL starting quarterback. And in this league, borderline starter = good backup. That’s all it means.

It’s like the pinch-hitting utility player in baseball. The fans love him and want him to play more, but as soon as there’s an injury and he needs to play every day for a month, you remember why he was coming off the bench in the first place.

The Houston Texans went through that last year. Even after signing Hoyer to a two-year, $10.5 million contract, they still gave the starting job to Ryan Mallett, who couldn’t even show up to team meetings on time. Once they had enough, they turned it over to Hoyer who posted a solid 91.7 passer rating, but then threw four interceptions in the Texans’ first-round playoff loss while completing just 44 percent of his passes.

Suddenly, the Texans remembered why Hoyer was in the league for five full years before he landed a regular starting job with the Cleveland Browns in 2014, where he posted a passer rating of just 76.5. Houston released Hoyer in April. And not single NFL team wanted him as their starting quarterback. That’s why he ended up with the Bears — as their backup.

So instead of irrationally calling for the benching of Jay Cutler, just be happy general manager Ryan Pace did his job and found a good backup quarterback to use in case the starter got hurt.

And keep in mind that while Fox opts to be vague about Cutler’s status as the starter, offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains wasn’t very vague last week.

“(Jay Cutler) is the toughest guy I’ve ever been around in 12 years coaching in the National Football League. He is resilient. The minute that he’s ready to go and gets healthy and is ready to play, then if Coach (Fox) feels that way and we feel that way as an organization, then he’ll be out there.”

Loggains was Hoyer’s quarterbacks coach in Cleveland. He knows who the better quarterback is.

It’s Cutler.

Adam Hoge covers the Chicago Bears for WGN Radio and WGNRadio.com. He also co-hosts The Beat, weekends on 720 WGN. Follow him on Twitter at @AdamHoge.

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