Jay Cutler might find himself walking around with a clipboard once he is cleared for action. The Chicago Bears starting quarterback for the past seven seasons, Cutler has started 99 games with the Bears dating back to 2009. Cutler’s 100th start with the Bears may not come for a while if veteran Brian Hoyer keeps playing well.
When Cutler sprained his right thumb against the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 2, Bears fans wondered aloud about what will happen with the quarterback position. According to Pro Football Talk, Jay Cutler’s injury was serious, but it did not immediately require surgery. What was clear was that the Bears were going to have to rely on Brian Hoyer for at least a couple of weeks.
At first, it seemed as if the Bears were just going to bide their time until Jay Cutler returned, but something changed. After struggling with his outings with the Bears in the preseason, Hoyer was not expected to play well. It is interesting how things have changed.
Hoyer's first two Bears games: back-to-back 300+ yards, 2 TDs. Jay Cutler has achieved that one time in 98 games since coming to Chicago.
— Paul Charchian (@PaulCharchian) October 3, 2016
After two strong outings, including a win versus the Detroit Lions, Hoyer has the chance to hold onto the Bears’ starting quarterback job. There is a quarterback controversy brewing in Chicago, and it is a welcomed sight to behold.
Jay Cutler has the talent to be one of the greatest quarterbacks of this current generation. This is why the Bears traded for him in the first place. The problem is the production has not outweighed his talent. Being able to make all the throws oftentimes fall victim to overconfidence. That has been Cutler’s undoing since he has initially donned a Bears’ jersey.
In the years prior, Cutler has had a bevy of offensive weapons at his disposal. Matt Forte, Brandon Marshall, and Martellus Bennett are all producing for other teams.
With that offensive talent on the football field, Jay Cutler has only amassed 300 yards and two touchdowns in two consecutive games but once. Hoyer, while it must be considered that the defenses he has played against were two of the worst in football, has done it twice.
Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is the lone holdover from a Bears team that had a top-five offensive ranking as recently as four seasons ago. Jeffrey has been slowed by nagging injuries to his knee and hamstring.
Not having a player of Jeffery’s caliber at full speed only elevates what Hoyer has done to a status that is remarkable. Brian Hoyer is making the right reads on his throws, as he has taken advantage of five Bears’ pass-catchers at various times. Spreading the football around has opened up the Bears’ running game, and it is keeping games close.
#Bears coach John Fox at his presser on Brian Hoyer: “Anybody's that performing well, I don't think we're going to be likely to change." ????
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) October 3, 2016
There is an argument that keeping Jay Cutler on the sideline could hurt the Bears going forward. The proper rebuttal could be that even with an elite offense, Cutler has only led the Bears to one NFL playoff appearance.
That has allowed the current Bears’ regime to be non-committal regarding his status with the team. So when Bears’ head coach John Fox was asked about the quarterbacking situation (courtesy of ESPN), he was filled with coach-speak.
“It’s performance based. Anybody that’s been performing well, I don’t think we’ll be likely to change.
“We’ll evaluate as we do every position on the football team. Jay’s played a lot of good football… [but] we’ll evaluate it like everything. I don’t like getting into speculation or predictions, because we’ll know more on Wednesday.”
The thought process behind Coach Fox’s comments could be to simply light a fire under Jay Cutler. His words also ring a bit of truth.
If Brian Hoyer, who has completed 58 out of 85 passes in two starts, can continue to protect the football, he could unseat Jay Cutler as the Bears’ top signal-caller. Hoyer has 619 passing yards in two games and has zero interceptions thrown. Conversely, Jay Cutler was well on his way to becoming one of the NFL leaders in turnovers.
The Bears coaching staff gets paid to win football games. John Fox just happened to come out and admit it without saying it aloud that Brian Hoyer may give the Bears the best chance to win.
Brian Hoyer versus Jay Cutler is a nonstarter in terms of overall talent, Cutler wins hands down. Hoyer would be the best, albeit affordable option for a quarterbacking situation that needs to groom an heir apparent. As long as Cutler is around, it is likely that he will cast a large shadow for any young quarterback stepping into the role.
Damn good performance out of Jordan Howard today for the Bears and Brian Hoyer was absolutely efficient in beating the Lions…
— Michael Wilbon (@RealMikeWilbon) October 2, 2016
For the Chicago Bears, the focus must be on the future, as well as the present. There are developmental players throughout the Bears’ roster. Unfortunately, the one position that the Bears have ignored is the quarterback.
It was believed that Connor Shaw could be the Bears’ developmental quarterback, but his season was cut short with a gruesome leg injury. If he can return to be the guy who the Bears can groom, the other pieces he needs to be successful should be in place.
The Bears’ defense is young, and there is a receiver and running back tandem with huge potential in Kevin White and Jordan Howard. If things continue to trend upward, the future sets up well.
The Chicago Bears’ strategy of not taking a quarterback in the last two NFL drafts could work as long as the rest of their team is in place. What the Bears must determine is which quarterback is willing to serve as a caretaker while winning football games.
Is that a role Jay Cutler is willing to take? That could determine how the rest of this shakes out for the Chicago Bears.
[Featured Image by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]