Johnny Manziel will have to wait to become the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback. The Browns announced Wednesday morning that veteran Brian Hoyer will be the teams starting quarterback in the season opener September 7th, against the Pittsburg Stealers.
Browns Head Coach Mike Pettine said from the beginning of training camp that if the quarterback battle was close, “I would prefer to go with the more experienced player”. He went on to say that “Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms with his teammates, on the practice field, and in the locker room.” The fact that Hoyer has played in the NFL for five seasons helped his cause to be named the starter tremendously.
Neither Hoyer or Manziel have looked like they are ready to be a starting quarterback from the numbers they have had through two preseason games. That was more evident in the teams most recent game on Monday night. Pettine went with the safer pick, and that was Hoyer, as he was expected to win the job all along.
Hoyer started Monday’s preseason game against the Washington Redskins, completing 2-6 passes for 16 yards. Manziel completed 7-16 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown. During the game, Manziel was caught on camera giving the middle-finger to the Redskins’ sideline, an act Pettine said would be factored in to the decision. “That type of behavior is unacceptable,” Pettine said after the game. “He should know more than anyone that all eyes are on him.”
Hoyer began training camp as the starter and although he did not play well against Washington, he never did anything to lose the job. Manziel has not played well through the first two preseason games either, but he does not have the in-game experience that Hoyer possesses. Manziel’s offseason behaviors did not help his cause of being named the starting quarterback. He was criticized for spending his weekends away from Cleveland’s practice facility partying before training camp. Manziel has shown glimpse of his Johnny football form in practice, but he is still struggling to learn the offense, one that is more complex from the one he ran at Texas A&M. Once Manziel shows he has a better grasp of the offense it will be interesting to see what the Browns decide to with their quarterback situation.
The decision to name Hoyer the starter means that he has more time to start for his hometown team that he grew up rooting for. Hoyer made three starts for the Browns last season he suffered a torn ACL on October 3rd against the Bills that ended his season. Before the injury, Hoyer led the Browns to two consecutive wins in his previous two starts. Now that he is healthy again, he looks to build off of the success he had last season and translate it into wins this season.
Now that Hoyer has been named the starter he will have two weeks to work with the first team offense and try to improve his timing with his receivers. He will be without the team’s best receiver Josh Gordon for at least the first four games and potentially more after he violated the NFL’s substance abuse policy.
Some people still believe Manziel still has chance at becoming the opening day starter if Hoyer performs poorly in the final two preseason games. I do not see this happening. However, if Hoyer struggles in the regular season I do not think the coaching staff will hesitate to replace him with Manziel. It will be interesting to see how this ongoing quarterback situation plays out this year in Cleveland.