CLEVELAND – With the Cleveland Browns set to take a quarterback in the 2014 NFL Draft, what will become of Brian Hoyer?
Hoyer, the former local prep school product and third-string quarterback that led the Browns to wins over Cincinnati, Minnesota and Buffalo, is expected to be Cleveland’s opening day starter in 2014.
Or will he?
Before Browns fans anoint the former Michigan State Spartan as their savior, one must consider that with a new head coach in Mike Pettine, offensive coordinator(insert proverbial media/fan punching bag here!) and possible draft picks, is Hoyer the Browns quarterback of the present and future?
Hoyer, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury on a hit from Buffalo Bills linebacker Kiko Alonso, will be turning 29 in October and based on the Browns current needs and possible staff, Hoyer has the opportunity to solidify his grip on the quarterback spot.
With former first-round bust Brandon Weeden expected to be cut, and other possible additions via free agency and the draft, are the Browns sold on Hoyer as their starter, or is he nothing more than Kelly Holcomb 2.0?
Good off the bench to offer a spark, but mediocre to bad over the long haul for a full season. Cleveland can ill afford to wait and find out in ’14.
Holcomb, a one-time backup to former top pick Tim Couch, nearly led the Browns to their first road playoff win since 1969 in Heinz Field against the Steelers. Despite losing, many in the Cleveland-area media called for Holcomb to start over Couch, thanks to his 429-yard, three-touchdown near-heroics.
Holcomb would start ten games for the Browns in the 2003-04 season and pass for 1,797 yards, ten touchdowns and 12 interceptions. While Hoyer is not Holcomb, and the circumstances are different then they were in 2003, the fan outcry to start Hoyer after a small sample size of 2.5 games is eerily similar for the demand to start the former Middle Tennessee State gunslinger after one playoff game.
In leading the Browns to three wins over a group of perennial under-achievers(Bengals) and two non-playoff teams(Bills and Vikings), Hoyer played well enough to win, but is it enough?
While Hoyer did jumpstart a bland Browns offense in getting the ball out quickly, making timely throws and passing for 615 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions, the new coaching staff may not be entirely convinced that he is their “guy” going forward.
One must also consider what kind of new offense will be installed in ‘14. Will it the return to the West Coast Offense(WCO), a spread/shotgun, or a vertical offense? If Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan is hired, will he incorporate the read-zone offense that RG3 ran and trust a guy coming off a ACL injury to run it?
If you’re a Browns fan, this gives you a lot to think about, doesn’t it?
Whatever the Browns decide to do in May going forward, they must firmly commit to either Hoyer, their rookie franchise quarterback or a free agent pick in hopes of avoiding another Holcomb-like cautionary tale.