Today, Browns coach Mike Pettine revealed that Brian Hoyer will be starting when the Browns open their season in Pittsburgh on September 7th. I have been on the fence about who should start Week 1 for many weeks, as my heart and my mind have pulled me in many different directions, and I have flip-flopped my opinion more than a bad politician. Seeing as it was so difficult for me to decide which quarterback I liked better, I can only imagine what it must have been like for Coach Pettine. Despite a post I wrote weeks ago arguing Manziel should be the starter, I support Pettine’s choice of Brian Hoyer as the starting quarterback.
First of all, let me say kudos to Coach Pettine and the rest of the Browns’ coaching staff for making a decision early enough to allow the offense to develop some continuity in the weeks that remain until the opener against our arch rival. In the first two preseason games, suffice it to say that the players on the Browns offense were not all on the same page and each quarterback look rattled. The incumbent starter, Brian Hoyer, did not show the confidence he portrayed in the games he started–and won–last season, but admittedly, he has been put in a bad position: Cleveland drafted a young, vibrant, atypical, celebrity quarterback named Johnny Manziel, and as Hoyer silently put in work to become a better quarterback and rehab his surgically-repaired knee, Johnny made headlines for floating on an inflatable swan while drinking champagne. Not only has Hoyer had to deal with finding a rhythm following ACL surgery, he has had to look over his shoulder at a backup quarterback who was getting swarms of media attention. With the Browns placing confidence in the veteran QB, Hoyer should have significant weight lifted from his shoulders, prompting him to play better, and prompting the Browns offense to develop some rhythm and continuity that has been lacking so far this preseason.
However, there still seems to be a significant load on Hoyer’s shoulders. Personally, I wonder if Pettine ever truthfully wanted to start Manziel. The Browns first three games: at Pittsburgh, vs New Orleans, and vs Baltimore, are grueling. With the way that the Browns’ offense has looked thus far in the preseason, it is reasonable to conclude that, at points during those games, the offense will struggle. In my opinion, if the Browns reach the Week 4 bye week with 1 win, that should be viewed as a moral victory. If the Browns struggle offensively in the first three games and come out with anything less than 2 wins, there will undoubtedly be grumblings that a switch needs made at the quarterback position during the bye week.
Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
My only fear is that the pressure of having a well-known backup quarterback will be too much for the Browns coaching staff and for Brian Hoyer, and a change will be made too hastily. Aside from being named the starter, not much has gone Hoyer’s way this season or for his career. Without a doubt, the uncertainty at the receiver position has not helped Hoyer’s situation, either, and if Gordon is suspended, the situation will only get worse and Hoyer’s job all the more difficult.
My message to Browns fans: Be careful before calling for Brian Hoyer’s head if he should struggle early in the season. He’s already had to overcome so much to become a starter last season and even more to become the starter for Week 1 this season. I hope we’re patient enough to give him a fair shake.
My message to Brian Hoyer: Good for you for winning the starting job. Take it, run with it, elevate your play. From a diehard Cleveland fan, I sure hope you get a fair chance to do your job.
As always, Go Browns!
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