‘Jay Cutler or Brian Hoyer’ quarterback controversy answer is clear

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Bears backup quarterback Brian Hoyer threw for 302 yards and completed 61% of his passes in Sunday’s 17-16 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. It was Hoyer’s fourth-straight game with over 300 yards passing since taking over for Jay Cutler, who has been out with a sprained thumb.

In addition to his run of 300-yard games, Hoyer also has thrown six touchdowns and zero interceptions, which — as the CBS broadcasting crew reminded us several times — gives Hoyer the most pass attempts without throwing an interception in the entire NFL.

And on top of it all, Hoyer has a 100.8 passer rating, making him one of only 10 quarterbacks north of the 100-point milestone.

When Cutler is finally healthy enough to play, the choice between he and Hoyer for the team’s starting quarterback job is clear … it still belongs to Cutler.

Wait … what?

That’s right, not only should the job be Cutler’s, but it needs to be his. Because while Hoyer is playing the position efficiently, he’s hardly playing it effectively. The Bears are 1-3 with Hoyer as the starter, averaging just 18.25 points per game in that span, making them the least efficient scoring offense in the NFL.

Yes, the counterargument from the Cutler haters and Hoyer supporters out there will be: “but the Cutler-led Bears scored just 14 points in the season-opener and weren’t lighting up the scoreboard, either, against the Eagles when he got hurt.”

Yes, but the Texans and Eagles have two of the better scoring defenses in the league, ranked 12th and 3rd, respectively.

Plus, the argument goes way beyond what the team had done in those two games … it’s also what they could do in games moving forward.

The reason why Hoyer has been so efficient as quarterback is because the Bears have pared down the playbook and have called for plays underneath the coverage. That kind of system only works between the 20-yard-lines, when the defense drops its coverage back. When the Bears get into, or near the red zone, the playing field is compacted and the defense plays near the line, prohibiting those checkdown throws and forcing the Bears to get creative.

This explains why the Bears’ red zone offense has been so bad under Hoyer and why defenses have been playing bend-but-don’t-break against them throughout their drives.

With Hoyer, there is no fear of the long ball. With Cutler, teams have to honor Cutler’s arm and the potential deep threat he adds to the offense.

I am convinced that the Bears would have beaten the Lions by more than a field goal with Cutler under center. I’m positive that they would have held on for a victory against the Colts if Cutler was running the offense. And I’m absolutely certain they would have buried the Jaguars in the first half and secured a should-win against the lowly Jaguars had the ball been in Cutler’s hands.

The fact that the defense gave up 17 fourth-quarter points would have been a moot point.

I understand if you have Cutler fatigue. It’s a real thing. At certain points, relationships have to end. Unless you have one of the all-time greats like a Tom Brady or Aaron Rodgers — or even if you have Super Bowl winning quarterbacks like Eli Manning and Ben Roethlisberger — at some point the quarterback-team relationship has to end if it does not produce championships — let alone playoff appearances and victories.

But stop blaming the player and start pointing the finger at management. It’s not Cutler’s job to do something he cannot do. It’s management’s job to find a player who is better than him, and three head coaches and two general managers later, there has not been a better quarterback option available since Jerry Angelo acquired him from Denver in 2009.

That includes one Mr. Hoyer, affectionately known as Captain Checkdown or Mr. Fantasy Football.

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