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Cutler looks to build on 2015 success

Posted Jul 13, 2016

Jay Cutler returns for his eighth year as Bears starting quarterback, looking to build on what was arguably his best season since arriving in Chicago in 2009.

The following is the first of eight position previews in advance of training camp.

Jay Cutler returns for his eighth year as Bears starting quarterback, looking to build on what was arguably his best season since arriving in Chicago in 2009.

Despite playing with an injury-depleted receiving corps last year, Cutler recorded a career-high 92.3 passer rating and reduced his interceptions from 18 to 11.

This year Cutler will play for his sixth different coordinator in eight seasons with the Bears. But the transition figures to be more seamless than previous changes because new coordinator Dowell Loggains will utilize virtually the same offense as last season when he was the team's quarterbacks coach.

Loggains was elevated to coordinator in January in place of Adam Gase, who left the Bears after one season to become head coach of the Miami Dolphins.

Bears coach John Fox feels that Loggains did an excellent job coaching Cutler last season and is confident the two will continue to work well together in 2016.

"I thought [Loggains] did a tremendous job," Fox said in May. "I saw tremendous growth in Jay from one year ago. I can't speak to all the other years, but just last year I saw great growth in him and that was with a pretty depleted group of receivers he did that with."

The Bears' top four receivers entering training camp last year combined to sit out 35 of 64 games. Alshon Jeffery was limited to nine games due to injuries to his calf, groin, hamstring and shoulder. First-round pick Kevin White was sidelined the entire season with a stress fracture in his shin. And Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson missed significant time as well.

Cutler enters 2016 as the Bears' all-time leader in every key passing category with 1,939 completions, 3,134 attempts, 22,384 yards, 150 touchdowns and an 85.5 passer rating.

The Bears signed veteran Brian Hoyer April 30, presumably to back up Cutler. The 30-year-old has played eight NFL seasons with the Patriots (2009-11), Steelers (2012), Cardinals (2012), Browns (2013-14) and Texans (2015), appearing in 43 games with 26 starts.

Hoyer has completed 58.1 percent of his passes for 7,163 yards with 38 TDs, 26 interceptions and an 82.2 passer rating.

Hoyer's most expanded playing time came in Cleveland in 2014 when Loggains was the Browns' quarterbacks coach. Hoyer appeared in 14 games with 13 starts, completing 55.3 percent of his passes for 3,326 yards with 12 TDs, 13 interceptions and a 76.5 rating.

Hoyer then had his best season as a pro last year with the Texans, connecting on 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,606 yards with 19 TDs, seven interceptions and a 91.4 passer rating while playing in 11 games with nine starts.

Hoyer appealed to the Bears because of his experience, familiarity with Loggains and his performance last season, especially his touchdown-to-interception ratio.

"When he's played, he's been productive," general manager Ryan Pace said in April. "I like that Dowell has been with him, has a lot of comfort with him. I've watched him play over the years. He's a very intelligent player. I know he's got a strong work ethic because we've got coaches that have been with him. I think he's a really good piece to add to the mix."

The other three quarterbacks on the Bears roster—David Fales, Dalyn Williams and Connor Shaw—have combined to play in one NFL regular-season game.

The Bears selected Fales in the sixth round of the 2014 draft out of San Jose State. He was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster last Nov. 23 and spent the final six weeks of the season as the team's No. 2 quarterback, but he did not play.

The Bears signed Williams, an undrafted free agent from Dartmouth, June 9 and claimed Shaw July 1, one day after he was waived by the Browns.

Shaw, who teamed with Jeffery at South Carolina, signed with Cleveland as an undrafted free agent in 2014. Shaw spent most of his rookie year on the practice squad before starting the season finale, completing 14 of 28 passes for 177 yards with one interception and a 55.2 passer rating. He missed all of last season with a thumb injury he sustained during the preseason.