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Bears Position Preview: There's Depth At Quarterback

By Chris Emma--

(CBS) The pocket imploded on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler, and he managed to make something happen.

It was third-and-6 late in the fourth quarter in Kansas City in 2015, and Chicago was trailing 17-6. Cutler was under duress, but he let loose a perfect throw to the back of the end zone. Marquess Wilson -- not Alshon Jeffery, Kevin White or Eddie Royal -- was there to catch the money throw.

Cutler led the Bears to an 18-17 victory against the Chiefs that Sunday, their second comeback win in a row. He was missing his top three receivers, had a rookie center starting his first game and was facing a Kansas City team that would reach the postseason. Through all that, he led the team despite a short-handed offense.

For all the grief Cutler has taken during his Bears career, performances like this one illustrate a different dynamic. Cutler has lacked the supporting cast throughout much of his time in Chicago.

In 2016, the Bears hope that Cutler's best will come out with a healthy Jeffery, White and Royal lining up out wide, plus the complements of tight end Zach Miller and running back Jeremy Langford.

The 33-year-old Cutler is unflappable to the pressure that comes with being the starting quarterback of the Bears. He remains in place, working in the second season of his third head coach in Chicago and joining a fifth offensive coordinator. Of course, the promotion of Dowell Loggains to replace Adam Gase was a move that was made to benefit Cutler.

Should Cutler miss any time this season, the Bears have depth behind him -- there are five quarterbacks on the roster headed to Bourbonnais next week for the start of training camp.

Let's take a look at quarterback in the first position preview:

Starter: Jay Cutler

Cutler is back for a eighth season as starting quarterback for the Bears. The hope is that he can be viewed as good, not just efficient, during this season. That will depend largely on how well he works with Jeffery, White and Royal, who couldn't stay on the field consistently in 2015.

In Loggains, the Bears have supplied Cutler with his desired play-caller and a core on offense that boasts some promise. Now, let's see what he can do.

Backup: Brian Hoyer

When last we saw Hoyer on the field, it wasn't good. He suited up as the starter for the Texans in the AFC wild-card round last season and had a horrible day. Hoyer was 15-of-34 for 136 yards with five turnovers, including four interceptions.

That outing took away from what was a solid season for Hoyer assuming the starting job. He completed 60.7 percent of his passes and threw for 19 touchdowns and just seven interceptions in 11 games with Houston. The Bears scooped Hoyer away from the Broncos and Jets -- he would've fougth for the starting job in either spot -- and brought in one of the better backups in the league.

The rest: Connor Shaw, David Fales, Dalyn Williams

Behind Cutler and Hoyer, it gets interesting. What happens with the rest of the unit?

The Bears signed Shaw earlier this month in a move that was likely influenced by Loggains, as Shaw was a former quarterback of his from Cleveland who played alongside Hoyer in 2014. Meanwhile, Fales is a Phil Emery experiment entering his third season without a single game rep.

Shaw and Fales will battle alongside Williams, the undrafted rookie out of Dartmouth, to be the Bears' third quarterback. It remains to be seen how the team will balance the bottom of its roster and whether that means a third quarterback will remain on the active 53-man roster or join the practice squad.

By the time the roster is cut down, it's likely the Bears will only carry three quarterbacks.

Chris Emma covers the Bears, Chicago's sports scene and more for Follow him on Twitter @CEmma670 and like his Facebook page.

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