BUFFALO – In what was perhaps the most inevitable benching in the NFL, Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer was benched for Johnny Manziel in a 26-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Hoyer, who threw three interceptions in a 26-24 Browns comeback victory over the Atlanta Falcons, struggled—as most teams have this year—against Buffalo’s ferocious pass rush in going 18-of-30 for 192 yards passing. Hoyer would also be sacked twice, throw two interceptions and post a QBR of 24.9, in what was a truly rough day at the proverbial office for Cleveland’s newly-minted sports hero.
All throughout training camp and into pre-season, there was a passionate—and at times, heated—debate amongst Browns fans of who should start in Hoyer or Manziel. With Cleveland being the fiercely proud sports town that it is in wanted to support one of their own, as Hoyer prepped at local high school football powerhouse, St. Ignatius, many Dawgs wanted their fellow Clevelander under center.
As much as it pains this writer to say this, but it’s time for Cleveland fans to end their “American Hoyer Story” love affair with “Hoyer the Destroyer” based on his sub-par performance not only against the Bills, but also in his last four games.
In his last four games, Hoyer has thrown one touchdown, six interceptions, been sacked five times and completed barely over half of his passes at 50.8 percent. Now some—including myself have made the argument, on many occasions—about the loss of Alex Mack, absence of Josh Gordon, etc.
While that is all true, Hoyer did lead the Browns to four comeback wins and a 10-5 mark as a starter, which I felt were enough to merit a pass from all the constant criticism from Cleveland-area fans and media.
It was these reason that many—including this writer, again—glossed over his many flaws, as the Browns won often in spite of him—and not because of him. Unfortunately, many in Dawg Pound Nation, have felt that Hoyer’s benching was long overdue and that now it is time for Johnny Football.
As I wrote in my first-hand account after the 23-7 loss to the Houston Texans, I began to notice that he had some bad habits of being inconsistent, not enough air on his deep balls and erratic ball placement. It wasn’t until I realized these issues, that Hoyer had indeed regressed, while my opinion is irrelevant inside Berea, the opinion of owner Jimmy Haslam III inside of it does.
For the record, I have been a Manziel supporter from the beginning, as I stated that he and the Browns are made for each other here, with the caveat that he sit behind Hoyer so that he can properly learn and develop, instead of being thrown to the proverbial wolves, like so many others before him have. While I will say that while Hoyer has built quite a name for himself and what he has done as Browns starting quarterback, he is nothing more than a stop-gap to Manziel.
In making the switch to Johnny Football, Cleveland will finally get a chance to see exactly what they have in the former Heisman Trophy winner, as they have already seen what they needed to see in Hoyer.
Based on my observations, I feel that teams have figured Hoyer out in stacking the box to stuff the run and daring him to beat them deep.
Despite coming on late, it appeared that Manziel injected a new spark into the offense, as he led them down the field to a touchdown in his first regular-season series. Unlike Hoyer, Manziel can keep a team guessing as he has far better arm strength and accuracy than Hoyer, and is more mobile in and out of the pocket, which gives Cleveland’s offense an added dimension.
Two months ago, all the talk in Cleveland was the thought of signing Hoyer to a long-term contract extension, based on Sunday’s performance and his recent body of work, those talks may be all but over, as the brief—and promisingly bright—Hoyer era came to an abrupt close, and the much-hyped Manziel era officially beginning.
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