Tag Archives: Quarterback competition

Time for the Browns to Start Manziel?

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.

Johnny3Enter 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.

Not a good look, John.
Not a good look, John.

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.

Go Browns.

Cleveland Browns Name Brian Hoyer Starting Quarterback

After weeks of speculation and a preseason competition, Head Coach Mike Pettine and the Cleveland Browns have named Brian Hoyer as their starting quarterback for the 2014 season. The Lakewood, Ohio native will be the 13th week one starter for the Browns since their return in 1999.

Brian Hoyer is starting his sixth season in the NFL and his second with the Cleveland Browns. After another quarterback carousel last season, hindsight showed Hoyer as the best quarterback from a group made up of himself, Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell. Entering the offseason, some Browns fans were optimistic about Hoyer’s future with the team and what he could do given a full sixteen game season. Then, a monkey wrench by the name of Johnny Manziel was thrown into those plans. Manziel was taken with the 22nd overall pick in the NFL draft and immediately another quarterback competition was born – a competition that Hoyer ultimately won, or at least didn’t lose.

So why is Brian Hoyer starting over Manziel? Anybody who watched the two preseason games can tell you that neither quarterback really took the reins to the starting job. It’s not like Hoyer went out and just outplayed Manziel. That would’ve made this decision easy. Instead, Pettine and his coaching staff had to make a difficult decision. In the end, Pettine cited experience as a major factor.

Pettine had this to say about Hoyer, “He was the clear leader from the beginning. We’ve maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room.” Pettine was also pleased with Manziel’s effort during camp and preseason, saying that the rookie has made “great strides” and is “confident that Johnny is going to have a great future”. However in the end, Pettine and his staff said Hoyer had an edge over Manziel. That edge appears to be experience.

While it wasn’t alluded to in Pettine’s comments, some consideration had to be given to comfort level with the playbook. In addition to adjusting to NFL life, Manziel was assigned the task (along with every other rookie) of learning a playbook. In Manziel’s case, this playbook was a complex offensive system with wordy play calls in a system that doesn’t even closely resemble what Manziel did in college. This isn’t to say Brian Hoyer is a veteran of and has loads of experience in Kyle Shanahan’s system. He isn’t and he doesn’t. However he is at least in a better position to adjust to the system and has stated he feels comfortable with longer, complicated play calls (citing his time in New England) while Manziel has maintained he is still trying to get comfortable with the playbook, the calls and the system overall.

Manziel not being named the starter isn’t really a knock on his abilities. By all accounts he is the more athletic player and has a stronger arm. At some point, and probably at some point this year, he will be called upon to lead this team. But to lead a team you must be ready to lead. In the estimation of Mike Pettine and his staff, Manziel just wasn’t quite there yet.