CLEVELAND – Despite going 19-of-28, passing for 275 yards and one touchdown in a 23-13 victory over the Oakland Raiders, Cleveland Browns starting quarterback Brian Hoyer is on the hot seat in Cleveland.
One would think that despite a 13-point win, and improving one’s hometown team to a 4-3 record, going 7-3 as a starter in ten games would be enough to satisfy one of the most passionate, vocal and ardent football fan bases in the NFL.
Following the win, Cleveland-area talk shows and media would nit-pick and utterly critique Hoyer on everything from his post-game body language to not putting up enough points on the board against a winless team visiting from the West Coast.
Even this writer will confess that on Facebook, I posted something about him looking lost and out of rhythm. A number of factors could be brought into this such as the fact that Oakland is actually quite talented on defense, and are a few pieces away from contending in the AFC West.
Secondly, Derek Carr—who I wrote the Browns were looking at in the draft—has a bright future as Oakland’s future franchise quarterback. All Oakland needs to do—besides firing general manager Reggie McKenzie—is continue to build thru the draft and give Carr some weapons to throw to (Amari Cooper, Jaelen Strong, Nelson Spruce, etc.)
Back to Hoyer, this writer will concede that despite his shaky performance against Oakland, I’d rather take an “ugly” win over a “pretty” loss. Browns fans must have suddenly become spoiled to be calling for Johnny Manziel so soon AFTER a win.
The way the media and armchair general managers in Northeast Ohio made it sound, Hoyer played like Jeff Garcia and posted a 0.0 passer rating.
Being a Browns fan, I can relate to the angst among many in Dawg Pound Nation in the fact that Hoyer is a stop-gap to Manziel, and worry that he is another Kelly Holcomb or Derek Anderson. But please consider that with Hoyer under center that the Browns are 7-3 and have averaged 24.2 points a game?
With due respect, what good would benching Hoyer for Manziel at this point in the season with the team in the thick of a tight divisional race do, other than boost ratings and the selling of Manziel merchandise?
I for one, am for Manziel being the Browns quarterback of the future—but right now, the so-called Browns “fans”—who are nothing more than Johnny Manziel supporters—need to understand that until Hoyer plays like Garcia or proverbially lays a goose egg against the visiting one-win Tampa Bay Buccaneers, that is not going to happen anytime soon, and here’s why.
While his 1,714 yards passing eight touchdowns and two interceptions may not be the most eye-popping stat line, per clevelandbrowns.com, Hoyer leads the NFL in yards per completion at 13.71.
For the year, he has completed 57.3 percent of his passes and has the 18th-best QBR of 7.9 and a passing rating of 91.0
Again, while there are areas for Hoyer to clean up on in such as deep-ball accuracy and avoiding high throws, such as the one that resulted in Pro Bowl tight end, Jordan Cameron suffering a concussion—and will be sidelined, per NFL concussion protocols—Hoyer is a game-manager, which thanks to Kyle Shanahan’s run-heavy, play-action-based West Coast offense, fits Hoyer’s skill set in making quick and decisive short to intermediate throws just fine.
This writer will never claim to be Sherlock Holmes or work for the CIA, but please tell me this, when was the last time the Browns had a quarterback such as Hoyer who seems to get the best out of everyone on offense?
Cleveland had gone thru 20 different quarterbacks since coming back in 1999, and thru that parade of jokers ranging from Tim Couch to Seneca Wallace, NONE of them have ever had the Browns at a winning record thru seven games except Anderson in 2007, and led the offense to 20-plus points a game, so why mess with a good thing, for the sake of throwing in a rookie hotshot?
Fans were calling for Holcomb when Couch. When an aging and past his prime—if you call it that—Super Bowl champion Trent Dilfer struggled, fans then wanted Charlie Frye.
Even when Anderson had his Pro Bowl fluke of a year, Cleveland fans screamed for the Ohio-born, former Browns fan in Brady Quinn. And most recently, when Brandon Weeden struggled mightily fans cried for local product, Brian Hoyer, and now that Hoyer “struggled” against Oakland, they want Manziel.
Don’t get me wrong, being LeBron’s BFF is great and all, but that doesn’t justify a reason for Manziel to start and bench Hoyer.
It is this type of twisted, incoherent and bi-polar logic that QB controversy-obsessed Browns fans are considered a walking punch line, because as soon as Manziel were to struggle, these same “fans” would soon call for Hoyer again. For once, it is refreshing to a front office that will not succumbed to the Cleveland fan-driven media mob in deciding who their starter is.
Hoyer may not put up the sexy five-to-six touchdown, 400-plus passing yards that are the norm in today’s NFL, but he wins games, and that is the bottom line and ultimate stat line that matters most.
Hopefully for the both the Cleveland-area media and “fans” that this is enough to curb their Manzielmania enthusiasm for now.
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