GLENDALE — This season, 21 NFL teams have had the good fortune to have a quarterback who is competent enough, healthy enough, or both to start all of their team’s games.
The Arizona Cardinals, needless to say, are not one of them.
Rookie Ryan Lindley made his fourth career start for the Cardinals Sunday against the Chicago Bears, but didn’t finish the game after being pulled by head coach Ken Whisenhunt early in the third quarter of a 28-13 loss.
Enter Brian Hoyer, who was signed about two weeks ago, to finish the game against the Bears. Hoyer completed 11-of-19 passes for 105 yards and an interception in his first game action since throwing one pass for the New England Patriots in 2011.
“I was excited, so I just went out there and tried to make the best of the situation,” Hoyer said following the Cardinals’ 10th loss of the year. “I just can’t take my mind off that interception, it was just a dumb decision, I tried to force it. Tried to pump that underneath guy and get behind — that one will stay with me for a few days.”
Hoyer was picked off late in the game by Chicago defensive back Kelvin Hayden while trying to target Larry Fitzgerald, but no real harm was done by the turnover. The Cardinals already trailed 28-6 and actually blocked an Olindo Mare field goal attempt three plays later which Justin Bethel returned 82 yards for Arizona’s only touchdown of the day.
With the season all but over, and the Cardinals’ quarterback troubles well-chronicled, the question exists: will Hoyer become Arizona’s fourth different starting quarterback in 2012 next Sunday when they take on the San Francisco 49ers?
“Obviously, I’ll feel a little more comfortable tomorrow than I did today actually having run some plays,” Hoyer said. “We’ll see what happens, that’s not in my hands so I’ll prepare like I’m going to start like I always do regardless of what I am on the depth chart.”
Whisenhunt, who has had to shuffle his quarterbacks all season long due to injury and ineffectiveness, liked what he saw from Hoyer in the second half.
“I thought he did a nice job,” he said. “Obviously, the interception, that was a tough situation but we were in a tough situation. He got put in as tough a deal as he could be, being down with them having a good defensive front that were in pass rush mode. I thought he got the ball out quick, he had good anticipation and he made some nice throws.”
Another area in which the Cardinals actually showed improvement Sunday was getting wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald involved in the offense. Fitzgerald caught eight passes for 111 yards — only the second time he’s topped the century mark all season long. Four of Fitzgerald’s catches were thrown by Hoyer, who clicked with the six-time Pro Bowler.
“It’s hard not to have chemistry with him. He’s a great receiver,” Hoyer said. “You just don’t want to force it to him, though. When you get the opportunities, you try to take them and that one, unfortunately, I tried to force it to him.”