Backup quarterback Brian Hoyer hasn’t thrown much to receiver Alshon Jeffery. But he’s learned a thing or two when he sees Jay Cutler connect with him.
Throw it up and give Jeffery a chance.
“The thing that I’ve noticed from watching those two work is you just put it in the guy’s vicinity,” Hoyer said. “His range of motion is so big. He’s a big-body guy who uses his strength. I’ve been able to watch that. Now, it’s just about getting a chance to go out and do it a little bit.”
With Cutler recovering from a sprained right thumb, Hoyer will get those chances this week as the Bears prepare to face the Cowboys on Sunday night. Cutler didn’t practice Wednesday. His right hand also remained in a brace/cast.
The Bears signed Hoyer for this situation, especially given Cutler’s troubles staying healthy throughout his career. They wanted an experienced backup with starting experience.
Hoyer appeared in 11 games last season with the Texans, which included posting a 5-4 record in nine starts. It was the best season of his eight-year career. Hoyer completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,606 yards, 19 touchdowns and a 91.7 passer rating. He threw seven interceptions on 369 attempts.
“Whether you’re the starter, the backup or the third guys, you prepare every week like you’re the starter,” said Hoyer, who went 9-for-12 for 78 yards in the fourth quarter against the Eagles after he replaced Cutler.
“You may get a few more reps here or there, but that’s the fact of being able to play at anytime, being ready to play.”
Hoyer takes over an offense in flux. It’s a unit that has produced only 21 points in two weeks. It includes getting shutout in the second halves of each game.
Overall, it’s a group that lacks an identity. The strong, come-get-some running game the Bears envisioned having hasn’t found it’s footing. Cutler also has been sacked eight times in two games.
The best thing Hoyer has going for him and the Bears is his health. It’s the most significant advantage he has over Cutler, who was clearly hindered by his sprained right thumb against the Eagles.
Hoyer also listens to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains’ play calls during games.
“I’m getting a feel and a rhythm of the game that he’s trying to call,” Hoyer said. “Obviously having gone through [the game plan] mentally during the week, I have a pretty good feel for what [Loggains] goal is for each play and that kind of thing.”
Hoyer’s transition is aided by experiences in the preseason, too. He has taken snaps from rookie center Cody Whitehair in a live game and also connected with Kevin White. In the Bears’ final exhibition in Cleveland, White made four catches for 57 yards with Hoyer as his quarterback.
It’s his work with Jeffery, who has been the Bears’ best threat by far, that needs some work.
“[It’s] there yet, because really these are the first reps that I’m making with Alshon,” Hoyer said. “Whether it’s one-on-ones, anything, really he’s been solely with Jay.”
Well, not anymore.