By Chris Emma–
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (CBS) — Bears coach John Fox has been given every opportunity to give Jay Cutler a vote of confidence. Instead, he’s created a quarterback controversy.
It’s possible that Cutler could return from his thumb sprain this week, with the Bears preparing for Sunday’s contest against the Colts in Indianapolis. However, even if Cutler is healthy, the Bears may move forward with Brian Hoyer as their starter.
Offered another chance to pronounce a potentially healthy Cutler as the Bears’ starter during Monday’s media session at Halas Hall, Fox instead leaned toward Hoyer as the starter.
“It’s performance-based,” Fox said. “So anybody that’s performing well, I don’t think we’re going to be likely to change.”
Fox first suggested that Hoyer could remain the starter during a press conference last week, in which he shied away from claiming Cutler would automatically return to his role.
Sunday’s victory over the Lions brought another efficient performance from Hoyer, who was 28-of-36 for 302 yards and two touchdown passes. He has yet to turn the ball over through two starts, which is a trend for Cutler.
Hoyer spread the football all over the field Sunday, connecting to seven different targets. More importantly for the Bears, he helped them control the possession battles, which they had yet to do in their 0-3 start.
“We’ll evaluate it just like we do every position on the football team,” Fox said. “I think Jay has played a lot of good football. In fact, in the cutups watching Detroit in last year’s two games, I thought he played pretty well. We’ll evaluate it like everything. Right now, I don’t like getting into speculation and predictions, because we’ll know more on Wednesday.”
Cutler remains day-to-day with the thumb sprain suffered in the Bears’ loss to the Eagles in Week 2. He has practiced just once since suffering the injury, working in a limited role last Wednesday. He was held out Thursday and Friday as a precautionary measure.
During Sunday’s game, Cutler was active on the sidelines, working with Hoyer and quarterbacks coach Dave Ragone. He wasn’t wearing a brace on his thumb.
Fox credited Hoyer’s play after Sunday’s contest but declined to discuss the Bears’ future at quarterback. Hoyer simply deferred to his current role when asked about becoming the starter.
“Whatever they say to me (Monday), then that’s what I’m prepared to do,” Hoyer said. “I think that’s being a professional about it. That’s one thing I’ve learned through the tough situations that I’ve been through, is just be a pro. Whatever they ask of me, that what I’m paid to do, and that’s what I’m going to go out there and do.”
Tuesday brings an off day for the Bears, and they return to practice on Wednesday at Halas Hall — at which point, the quarterback situation could become more clear.
If Cutler is healthy, he could jump right into his role as the Bears’ starting quarterback, or Fox could stick with Hoyer as the guy.
For now, Fox is fine with creating a quarterback controversy for his football team.