The last time the Bears travelled to Lambeau Field, Jay Cutler won his first game there.
Brian Hoyer has no such baggage — or success. The venerable Packers park is one of three he’s never played in.
He’s seen the stadium once, though: he tried out as a free agent there in 2012.
“It’ll be cool to just be there for a game atmosphere,” he said this week.
Entering Thursday’s rivalry game, that’s the Bears’ quarterback quandary in a nutshell: Cutler’s proven highs and lows — he had 12 interceptions in four Lambeau Field starts before last year’s win — against Hoyer and his lack of sizzle and pedigree.
While Hoyer’s completion percentage and lack of mistakes — he still hasn’t thrown a pick — is to be admired, his flaws are becoming more apparent with each start.
The Bears’ 16.8 points per game are second-to-last in the NFL, and their 1.7 offensive touchdowns per game are tied for third-worst. Struggles are such that Alshon Jeffery said Sunday, bluntly, they needed to “score (freaking) touchdowns.”
Hoyer is unbowed.
“I’m not about taking chances, risking the ball,” Hoyer said. “I think the No. 1 priority is taking care of the football. Whenever you start to turn the football over – I learned the hard way in a playoff game (with four interceptions as a Texan) last year – you don’t give yourself a chance to win.
“So even as frustrated as we are, trying to score touchdowns in the red area, you still don’t want to take points off the board.”
Sunday, he Hoyer overthrew a rare deep ball to Jeffery when the receiver threw his hand up — “The Old Randy Moss Rule,” Hoyer said — after blowing past a Jaguars defender.
“The main thing with Alshon is that you don’t ever want to overthrow Al,” offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains said of the first-down throw.
“Al has the ability to go up and high-point the ball, that’s definitely a strength of his.”
Loggains said Hoyer has “done a nice job doing what he’s coached to do,” but needs to be better going deep.
“We want him to be as aggressive as he can in the timing of the play,” he said.
Hoyer should get another chance to try that deep throw — or something similar — against the Packers. He’ll be without slot receiver Eddie Royal, who was ruled out Wednesday, but the Packers will play without their top three cornerbacks. Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins were ruled out Wednesday, while Sam Shields was placed on injured reserve this week with a concussion.
“I don’t give a damn who’s out there,” Jeffery said. “We gotta roll with it. I’m pretty sure it’s next man up for them. We gotta roll with it.
Whoever’s out there, we’re going to try to take advantage and go after them.”
Cutler would have a database of knowledge from previous Packers games.
Hoyer, of course, has never played them.
“On a short week,” Hoyer said, “that presents a challenge.”