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OK. Now on with the Bullets …
- Chicago Bears back-up – or is it starting, bridge quarterback? – Brian Hoyer, 31, is going to have an interesting market this offseason, given his steady but unspectacular play. With free agency looming and Hoyer one of the Bears’ many unrestricted free agents, they will have a decision to make on just how much they want to commit to Hoyer. But he, too, will have a decision to make, especially if he believes himself a starting-caliber quarterback, and if the Bears view him otherwise. Last month, Hoyer told the Tribune he was very interested in staying with the Bears for another season: “I would love to stay here. I have comfortability with Dowell (Loggains) and his offense. Got an opportunity to play in the games and I think that kind of showed I know what to do and then learning my teammates. I saw what Coach (John) Fox said, we’re not that far off.” Whatever the Bears decide to do at quarterback – including their Jay Cutler decision – there’s a lot of value in having a guy like Hoyer around.
- For his part, though, it sounds like Hoyer may really want a shot at being a starter:
Brian Hoyer: I think when I've gotten the opportunity I've shown that I can win games. I'm still young, Brady's winning SB's at 39.
— SiriusXM NFL Radio (@SiriusXMNFL) February 14, 2017
- To be quite clear, Hoyer wasn’t comparing himself to Brady, who is among the greatest quarterbacks of all-time. Instead, he was merely pointing out that his age shouldn’t be a disqualifying factor at this point in his career.
- The Bears aren’t the only team who could use Hoyer’s services. Because he is an adept game manager and steady locker room presence, Hoyer could hold out for a starting job after throwing 200 passes without an interception in his brief stint with the Bears. However, he could also land on a contender in a backup as one of the better insurance policies in the league. Hoyer will play in his age 32 season in 2017, but could be easy to sell to a team with a run-first offense that emphasizes ball control, which would highlight Hoyer’s 2.1 percent interception rate in 1,103 pass attempts since 2013.
- Hoyer isn’t the only Bear on the move. In something that has been in the pipeline since before the Super Bowl, Bears special teams assistant Richard Hightower has left the team to join Kyle Shanahan in San Francisco, leaving another coaching vacancy in Chicago. The team has yet to fill jobs left behind by Clint Hurtt (outside linebackers, currently coached by defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on an interim basis) and Curtis Johnson (wide receivers).
- The NFL Combine is 13 days away, and Pro Football Weekly’s Greg Gabriel provides a behind the scenes look at the combine from the perspective of a former talent scout. Gabriel has perspective on how to watch the combine, advice on how not to get caught up in the hype of a prospects stock rising or falling because of combine performance, and what are the most important aspects of the Combine. Considering the Bears’ injury woes in 2016, the medical information will likely be of utmost importance to the team and its staff.
- As if you needed more evidence of the talent disparity between the Bears and Packers, here is a graphic showing the number of player appearances by team on Pro Football Focus’ top-101 list.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 14, 2017
- Green Bay (35) is tied for the second most with the Denver Broncos, while the Seattle Seahawks (40) lead the group. On the other hand, the Bears (13) are tied for the fourth fewest with the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Only the Washington Redskins (9), St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams (9), and Jacksonville Jaguars (7) have had fewer PFF Top-101 players. And while this list isn’t the be-all, end-all, it provides context on which teams are doing the best at accumulating talent. It’s no coincidence that the Seahawks, Panthers, Broncos, and Patriots sit atop the list – each team has won a Super Bowl since its inception in 2010. Meanwhile, the bottom six teams (Jaguars, Rams, Redskins, Colts, Buccaneers, Bears) have combined to make seven postseason appearances in the last seven years.
- And if by any chance you’re still not over the Patriots’ Super Bowl comeback, Peter King’s full podcast with quarterback Tom Brady (and his perspective on the comeback) is worth taking some time and listening to, if only for Brady’s unique insight.
Brett Taylor contributed to this post.