The Bears’ victory Sunday behind backup quarterback Brian Hoyer makes for great fodder. It’s exactly what speculation needs to exist and thrive.
Hoyer played well and won while starter Jay Cutler, whom some national talking heads love to hate, sat with a sprained right thumb.
But hold on. The Bears beat the Lions.
It’s a result that might have been a long time coming for the Bears, who had lost six consecutive games to their division rivals before Sunday, but the 17-14 victory at Soldier Field provided plenty of examples for the why the Lions are still the Lions.
The victory shouldn’t scream ‘‘quarterback controversy,’’ though some will make it that. The Bears found the end zone twice against a below-average defense that was missing two key starters.
Hoyer, a 30-year-old veteran who has made starts for four teams in the last four seasons, knows the talk is coming, though. He smirked and chuckled when asked how he would handle his role in the coming days.
‘‘My role is to do whatever is asked of me,’’ said Hoyer, who was 28-for-36 for 302 yards, two touchdowns and a 120.1 passer rating.
‘‘Today, I’m going to enjoy the victory. Whatever they say to me [Monday], then that’s what I’m going to prepare to do. That’s being a professional about it.
‘‘That’s one thing I’ve learned through the tough situations that I’ve been through: Just be a pro. Whatever they ask of me, that’s what I’m paid to do, and that’s what I’m going to go out there and do.’’
Still, Hoyer deserves credit for his performance. He was efficient and composed, making quick throws and reads, spreading the ball around and connecting with seven receivers.
There certainly are reasons to believe in Hoyer. Teammates praise his leadership and poise. His dart to receiver Eddie Royal while on the move for the Bears’ first touchdown was impressive. It’s apparent he has a good rapport with offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, too.
‘‘Everything he can do, he’s doing,’’ said tight end Zach Miller, who caught a six-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter.
As a unit, the offense put together its best performance of the season, even though penalties and mistakes limited the point total.
Hoyer benefitted from rookie running back Jordan Howard’s productive day and from a healthy dose of play-action passes. The line also held up against the Lions’ pass rush, which was missing top threat Ziggy Ansah.
‘‘We executed,’’ coach John Fox said. ‘‘The problem in the first three games was that we didn’t execute for 60 minutes. It helps when you do that.’’
Right now, Hoyer executes the offense better than Cutler does because he’s healthy.
Cutler wasn’t wearing a brace on his thumb, but until he can grip the ball firmly and throw it well, Hoyer should start.
Some will like that, and Fox isn’t as bound to Cutler as former coach Marc Trestman was. But a full-blown quarterback controversy requires more than a victory against the Lions.