We finally have seen it. Johnny Manziel replaced Brian Hoyer Sunday at Buffalo and put together a very impressive first drive resulting in his first NFL touchdown. Whether or not this will be a permanent replacement has still yet to be determined (as of writing this article), but I think the switch should have been made a couple of games ago.
While I can appreciate Mike Pettine not having a knee-jerk reaction to more off than on QB play, I am hoping the pending decision to proceed with Johnny Manziel for the rest of the season isn’t too little too late. In a tight AFC North and Wildcard race, it is only natural to wonder what could have been if Johnny Manziel started against the Texans or Bills.
“Who gives us the best chance to win?” That has been Mike Pettine’s mantra and deciding factor since training camp. I’m not so sure the answer to his question is Brian Hoyer anymore.
Aside from a delightful beat-down on the Bengals during Thursday night football, we have seen Brian Hoyer regress week by week since mid-October, which has been very frustrating to watch. He did not throw a TD pass in the blowout win against Cincinnati. In fact, Brian Hoyer has only thrown one touchdown in the last four games, compared to six interceptions in the same time frame. That is not going to win you very many games, folks.
“You don’t get to 7-5 in the NFL just by lucking into it.” This seems to be Brian Hoyer’s biggest argument to save himself from being benched. Now, you would be ignorant to say that Hoyer had nothing to do with the wins the Browns have accumulated, as he has made some throws when he needed to as well as being the unquestioned leader on offense. However, I believe his success has stemmed more from exceptional defensive play. As a matter of fact, I have been preaching all year that the Cleveland Browns winning record is more a product of the defense creating turnovers, giving Hoyer and the offense more opportunities to score.
Brian Hoyer has proved to be a serviceable stop-gap for this season, waiting for Manziel to get ready to take over. Many fans believe Brian is the real deal, I just don’t see it. Hoyer is a great backup QB, but I don’t think settling for mediocrity is going to get the Browns into the playoffs.
During Monday’s press conference, Mike Pettine mentioned Ray Farmer will be in on the discussion whether to make the switch to Johnny Manziel and will lean on the people he trusts to help make the difficult decision. Just a hunch, but I’m going to say Farmer likes the guy he traded up to draft in the first round in May. Going out on a limb, here.
Enter Johnny Manziel. Johnny came into the game in the 4th quarter after another Brian Hoyer interception that led to a Bills field goal and a 20-3 lead over the Browns, putting the Browns down by three scores. With twelve minutes to go. Manziel put together an impressive drive, topped off with a 10-yard scramble for the touchdown. He looked quick and efficient in this small sample-size we got to see.
However, the next drive left something to be desired, as there was miscommunication and Johnny received the snap before he was expecting it, resulting in a touchdown that was thankfully (wrongly) overturned to an incomplete pass. Manziel then proceeded to play dead in the end zone, hoping if he stays still enough, no one will be able to see him.
Despite this hiccup, the offense seemed to have a little spark lit under them when the QB change was made. Manziel brings a different element to the offense. Brian Hoyer was terrific with the intangibles, but seeing overthrown passes to wide open receivers and more interceptions as the season went on has begun to cost the Browns wins—and maybe their chance at the playoffs.
In a week where both the Steelers and Ravens lose, it is tough to look back at this week against the Bills and the Texans game, at what could have been, only to give first place up due to turnovers. I say turnovers, because Terrance West’s fumble was just as damaging as Hoyer’s two interceptions. The Browns needed one of those two games.
I am a Browns fan. I hate the revolving door at the quarterback position just as much as anyone in Cleveland, but I think Brian Hoyer is doing more harm than good being the starting QB of the Cleveland Browns lately. The defense (secondary especially) has worked too hard in too many games to either lose, or barely squeak out wins that should have been won by two scores or more.
If it turns out that Brian Hoyer will continue to be the starting QB, I won’t understand it, but you better believe I will be cheering just as hard for him to succeed. I root for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back.
But if the switch is made, I don’t expect Johnny Manziel to be perfect, especially in the early-going, but I do expect him to provide a whole new element to the offense that will bring more wins and hopefully a playoff berth to the Browns and the city of Cleveland.