Prior to last week’s game against the Buffalo Bills, Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel had attempted just one pass this season. However, he finally got some meaningful time on the field in a game against the Buffalo Bills. Manziel completed 5-of-8 passes for 63 yards and added two rushes for 13 yards. Most importantly, he led the Browns to their only touchdown of the game, taking the ball in himself on a speedy 10-yard run.
Given that the Browns used a first-round pick on Manziel this past spring, it seems like they’re ready to cash in on the investment. But (possibly former) starting QB Brian Hoyer doesn’t think his time is over under center just yet.
“This is my team,” Hoyer said after the game. “I’ve always felt that way. Obviously you never want to see someone else doing your job. It was a coach’s decision.”
Whether or not this is truly Hoyer’s team remains to be seen. Head coach Mike Pettine did not notify him that he’d be benched over the final 12 minutes of the game, with Cleveland trailing 20-3. Pettine also said that he’d decide by Wednesday on who will start the Week 14 contest against Indianapolis.
A few more nights of sleep may do little to influence Pettine’s decision. After all, Hoyer’s play over the past three games has been pretty bad. He’s thrown one touchdown and six interceptions during this period, leading Cleveland to a 1-2 record. The lone victory included a 26-24 win over Atlanta, where Hoyer threw zero TD’s and three interceptions.
Now this isn’t to say that the Cleveland native hasn’t done well for his local team. Hoyer has led the Browns to a respectable 7-5 record and made some excellent plays in crunch time. However, he’s also had some low points and lately hasn’t looked anything like a reliable franchise quarterback. Plus Hoyer had difficulty hooking up with Josh Gordon last game, who’s coming off a 12-game suspension and looking to reprise his explosive role of last year.
Given Cleveland’s record and the fact that they’re still alive in the playoff race, one might question changing quarterbacks at this point. However, it’s also worth noting that the Bengals have a game-and-a-half lead in the AFC North with just four contests remaining, while the Browns are tied with the Ravens and Steelers at 7-5. Seeing as how Cleveland holds none of the tiebreakers, it seems unlikely that they’ll emerge as division champions or even make the postseason.
So it make sense to give Manziel a shot right now, especially considering that Hoyer’s quarterback play isn’t exactly inspiring now. The remaining schedule won’t be entirely rookie-friendly, with home games against Indy and Cincinnati, followed by road contests at Carolina and Baltimore. Then again, it won’t be impossible for Manziel to experience success against this lineup either.
But first thing’s first, Johnny Football must be named the starter on Wednesday. It seems likely, and if that does happen, Hoyer promises that he’ll remained focused:
“I’m never going to just hang my head and feel sorry for myself. We have four games left and whatever coach decides to do, I’ll be here to support this team and obviously I feel like this is my team and this is my job so we’ll see what happens moving forward.”