Bears coach John Fox admits he has no idea what he’ll do when Jay Cutler is healthy, since Brian Hoyer has played well. But he knows he really doesn’t want to hear any second-guessing from the media watching the game from a climate-controlled press box.
A curious thing has happened in the three games Hoyer has started since Cutler went downed with a sprained thumb: Alshon Jeffery, one of the NFL’s best deep threats, isn’t seeing that many balls.
Part of it is that Cutler has one of the league’s strongest arms, and likes to go downfield. Part of it is that Hoyer is more risk-averse, and isn’t as keen on giving Jeffery the 50/50 jump balls that Cutler seems comfortable with. Part of it might just be simple chemistry. But the trend turned acute on Sunday, on Chicago’s final offensive play of their 29-23 loss to the Colts, when Hoyer’s fourth-down pass to a covered receiver went incomplete, when it appeared that Jeffery was wide open down the sideline
Hoyer never looked his way, and Jeffery was fed up:
Jeffery sprinted to the locker room as soon as the Colts ran out the clock, and remained upset after the game:
So, it’s easy to put the blame on Hoyer for ignoring an open receiver with a clear path to the end zone. And on replay it certainly looks very bad. But Bears coach John Fox, in his postgame press conference, got testy with a reporter who asked him to comment on that final play.
Reporter: “Should Hoyer have been looking Alshon Jeffery’s way on fourth down?”
Fox: “I think when you’re out there playing quarterback, it looks a little different than when you’re up in a press box having hot dogs.”
Reporter: Does that play on fourth down illustrate the difference between Hoyer and Cutler?
Fox: “I’m not going to get into all this ... Had we had the coolness of the hot dog-laden press box, we might have gone there.”
Yes, you can see the field a heck of a lot better from the high angle of the press box. And yes, they do have hot dogs up there. But it’s a fair question to ask (even if Hoyer’s answer would be more instructive than Fox’s).
One play shouldn’t decide who gets the starting job, though if it’s an indication of Hoyer’s failure to gel with Jeffery, that’s a different story. There’s no hint that Cutler is close to being ready, so this is a moot point. The Bears have a ton of problems beyond the quarterback position, so it’s even mooter. That’s a word, probably.