10 Bears questions: On QB carousel, Cowboys’ home record, fumbles
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If Brian Hoyer wants to be similar to Jay Cutler, he might want to slow his speech.
He’ll fit in better in Texas, anyway.
“He calls the plays fast,” Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery said. “Other than that, it’s pretty fine.”
While we wonder if Hoyer will practice replicating Cutler’s slow cadence — Repeat after me: “It’s just haaaaard. …” — here are 10 questions for the Bears as they prepare for the Cowboys on Sunday night:
1. Is this money well-spent?
Four of the Bears’ five highest earners — in terms of total contract — won’t play Sunday.
Cutler (seven years, $126.7 million) is doubtful with of a right thumb sprain; outside linebacker Pernell McPhee (five, $38.75M) is on the physically unable to perform list; outside linebacker Lamarr Houston (five, $35M) is on injured reserve; and inside linebacker Danny Trevathan (four, $24.5M) had surgery Wednesday to reattach his thumb ligament.
2. Did the Bears’ quarterback uncertainly this week affect the Cowboys’ preparation?
“Not really,” coach Jason Garrett said. “This is a situation that comes up at different times throughout the year. And really what we need to do is focus on ourselves. At some point it will be determined who plays quarterback for them, but you’re preparing for their whole offense.”
3. Wait — someone’s worse than the Bears at home?
The Cowboys haven’t won a regular-season home game since Sept. 13, 2015. Since the start of the last college season, Alabama has won three games at AT&T Stadium: against Wisconsin in the 2015 opener, Michigan State in the national semifinal, and USC in this year’s opener.
4. Why is this game in primetime?
Forget records. The two franchises are popular. Sunday will mark the fifth primetime billing in the last six games played between the Cowboys and Bears — two on Sunday night, two Monday night and one Thursday night.
5. How bad has the Bears’ offense been?
Only the Seahawks and Rams have averaged fewer than the Bears’ 14 points — and one of the Bears’ four touchdowns came on a punt return. The Rams are the only team to average less than the Bears’ 271 yards.
6. Can Kevin White run?
When the Bears ran an end around for the receiver Monday, it marked the first time — in the NFL or college — that the receiver was credited with a carry.
“I just try to get around the corner as fast as I can,” he said.
Look for the Bears to continue trying to get the ball in White’s hands with minimal route-running effort.
7. What’s with Ezekiel Elliott’s fumbles?
The Cowboys’ rookie running back — who wanted to play for former Ohio State position coach Stan Drayton’s Bears — fumbled twice Sunday, losing one.
“We use the expression ‘high and tight,’ having the wrist above the elbow,” Garrett said. “Sometimes when you break down or cut, sometimes the ball can get a little bit lower just as a balancing mechanism. Zeke usually does a pretty good job not allowing himself to do that.”
He’s averaged only 3.3 yards per carry on 41 attempts.
8. Wanna bet?
Of the eight winless teams in the NFL, the Bears have the second-worst odds to make the playoffs, at 16/1, according to MyTopSportsbooks.com. The Browns are 30/1. Since 2007, 75 teams have started 0-2; only eight made the playoffs.
9. What’s with the new kicker?
Connor Barth’s 31-yard miss off the upright Monday was only his fifth in 85 career tries under 40 yards. It was concerning, given that his accuracy from under 40 yards was one reason GM Ryan Pace gave for signing him to replace Robbie Gould.
Gould missed kicks of 34, 35 and 36 yards in the last two years — but never in his career missed one so short.
Special teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers offered no explanation — “He just missed it,” he said — but seemed annoyed.
“We anticipate, any time we send a field goal kicker on, coming away with points,” he said.
10. Who’s the third-stringer?
All the quarterback talk this week got us thinking: Who’s the Bears’ emergency guy?
Coach John Fox wouldn’t say, but former Illinois State quarterback Cameron Meredith seemingly has an edge over former Nebraska-Omaha signal-caller Zach Miller.
No coach had talked to Miller, a tight end, about it.
“I don’t imagine that’d be a very wide open offense if either of us were back there,” the tight end said.
Meredith — who said his “arm gets tired pretty fast” — was coy.
“I guess if the case comes, we’ll find out,” the receiver said.