Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer played well against the Colts. The offensive game plan was solid, namely because the Bears relied on rookie running back Jordan Howard and didn't make Hoyer throw the ball down the field. For most of the game, the strategy worked, as Howard averaged 7.4 yards per carry and Hoyer played the role of an efficient, turnover-free game manager.
But in the final minutes of the game, the Bears trailed by six points. And so, Hoyer was asked to drop back and fire away against a porous Colts defense. He made it as far as the Colts' 28-yard line.
Facing a fourth-and-8 with the game on the line, Hoyer fired an incomplete pass toward Cameron Meredith over the middle of the field. That incompletion sealed the Bears' fourth loss of the season.
But the Bears should've walked away with their second win. On that final play, Hoyer missed a wide open Alshon Jeffery, who was isolated in one-on-one coverage on the left sideline. Hoyer kept his eyes centered on the middle of the field throughout the entire play, though.
Jeffery beat his man with ease and escaped completely free toward the end zone.
Here's a closer look at just how much separation Jeffery gained.
Hoyer just missed him, because he never looked at him.
Jeffery responded by putting his hands on his helmet and throwing them up in the air. On the sidelines, he slammed his helmet to the ground.
As soon as the Colts ran out the clock, he sprinted back to the locker room.
Alshon Jeffery sprints off the field. No hand shakes, no nothing. He did not look happy after that fourth-and-8.— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) October 9, 2016
Jeffery's frustrations probably weren't entirely about that one play. With Hoyer preferring to throw underneath -- unlike Jay Cutler who often hoists up 50-50 passes in Jeffery's vicinity -- Jeffery finished with just six targets. For a receiver of Jeffery's caliber, that's not nearly enough.
With Hoyer under center, Jeffery's absence from the offense is becoming a noticeable trend.
Bears tgts last 3 weeks:— Joe Ostrowski (@JoeO670) October 9, 2016
IND - Meredith 12, Royal 9, Miller 8, Alshon 6
DET - White 9, Royal 7, Alshon 5
DAL - White 14, Miller 9, Alshon 7
And really, that last play perfectly captures the difference between Hoyer and Cutler. Hoyer played well, took care of the football, and he certainly wasn't the reason why the Bears lost (and I'm guessing he'll hang onto the starting job for at least another week), but if the Bears are looking to play the quarterback who can make big-time throws in key moments, that quarterback isn't Hoyer -- it's Cutler.
If Bears coaches conclude Alshon was wide open on fourth-and-8, it'd reinforce how Hoyer's great stats don't tell the whole story.— Rich Campbell (@Rich_Campbell) October 9, 2016
The 1-4 Bears will play the Jaguars in Week 6. Their remaining games, however, aren't the most interesting aspect of their already lost season. It's how the coaching staff handles this quarterback controversy.