We’ve reached a conclusion to the Cleveland Browns starting Quarterback competition. Browns fans will have to wait a while to see the “flash” of Johnny Football.
The team today announced that they’re going with experience over exhilaration, tabbing veteran Brian Hoyer as their starter, ending a “battle” in which neither QB really asserted themselves with their play. Where Hoyer likely won the job wasn’t on the field, but off it in a combination of leadership and professionalism. Manziel is famous for his off the field antics, and recently had been reported (among others) tardy to a practice. Surely thorns in the side of Browns decision makers, but forgivable if the on-field product was strong. It hasn’t been.
Following a quite abysmal outing from Hoyer himself this weekend versus the Redskins (2 of 6 for 16 yards), Manziel followed with 7 of 16 for 65 yards and a shovel-pass touchdown of his own. Oh, and one of these. Hoyer certainly left the door wide open for Manziel to secure the job, but his play did nothing to inspire the Browns to go in that direction.
Hoyer by no means ran away with the job, but it’s clear that Mike Pettine and the coaching staff is comfortable with him, and albeit a short sample, he did perform well last year before succumbing to injury.
For Manziel, it’s likely “when” not “if.” If he’d had a stronger preseason, it’s plausible today’s announcement would be about him. Hoyer doesn’t have a long history of success to fall back on and will have to play very well to keep the job all season. Fans will be clamoring for Manziel at the first big Hoyer blunder, and for a franchise thirsty for success, it’s likely they’ll turn to the “it”-factor-poster-boy sooner rather than later.
If all goes well for Hoyer (and the Browns) though, he’ll regain his form prior to last year’s injury and provide some stability to a position that has had twelve different season-opening starters since 1999. Then, ideally, Manziel can sit back and learn, become a true “pro” and try to take the job next year.
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