Cleveland Browns Weekly: Hoyer does it again
By Eric Szczepinski @eszczepinski2
All that matters is the Cleveland Browns are 7-4 and very much alive in the AFC Playoff picture. Once again, the Browns used late game heroics to steal another nail-biting victory. Brian Hoyer orchestrated a drive with 44 seconds left to set up the game winning field goal by Billy Cundiff. Upcoming for the Browns is a road test against Coach Mike Pettine’s former team, the Buffalo Bills. But first let’s break down the Browns stunning victory.
The NFL is a bottom line business and even though it was ugly, Brian Hoyer was money when it mattered. He got the Browns a much needed road victory, despite the fact that analysis of his play shows Brian Hoyer had one of his worst performances of the 2014 season. Hoyer was 23 for 40 passing with 322 yards, 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Hoyer was facing the worst pass defense in football and also had superstar Josh Gordon back in the lineup. With so many things in his favor, he managed to have a very poor performance.
Hoyer was inaccurate once again, throwing behind and missing some critical open receivers in the game. He also made late decisions and forced the ball into tight coverage. Most disturbing about his play is that Hoyer seemed unable to decide where he wanted to throw the ball. As a result, he missed key open receivers. Hoyer completed 58% of his passes, which is slightly higher than his season average of 56%.
Hoyer ranks dead last at 32nd overall in completion percentage among starting NFL quarterbacks. Though Hoyer has been unpredictable at times this season, one thing you can predict is his leadership and poise. For 59 minutes and 16 seconds Brian Hoyer had an awful game. Fans on social media cried for Johnny Manziel and many thought Hoyer was on thin ice as the Browns starting quarterback. A loss would certainly dim the Browns playoff hopes. But with just 44 seconds left, trailing by one, Brain Hoyer trotted onto the field composed and relaxed as ever. On the final drive Hoyer was 4-6 passing for 61 yards. One incompletion was a spike to stop the clock. When the Browns backs were against the wall, Hoyer delivered. It wasn’t pretty or glamorous but the former Spartan found a way to win and that’s all that matters. Hoyer can be frustrating at times but numbers never lie and Hoyer is now 10-4 as the Browns starting quarterback.
Despite the guts and courage of Hoyer’s late game heroics, his numbers are reason for concern. Through the first 5 weeks of the season Hoyer threw for 6 TDs, 1 interception and had a 62% completion percentage, which is slightly higher than league average. From weeks 6-12 Hoyer has thrown 5 TDs, 7 interceptions, and has a league low 52% completion percentage. What is odd is that the Browns are 2-2 when Hoyer has played well and 5-2 when he has regressed. Over the reminder of the season the Browns need to find out which one is the real Brian Hoyer and see if he is worth a new contract.
Even as Twitter and the media are calling for Hoyer’s head and to place Johnny Football in, you simply can’t do it yet. The reason? The Browns continue to win with Brian Hoyer. Hoyer must find his early season form with five tough games to close out the regular season. Hoyer is the leader of this team and has the respect of his teammates. The coaches also believe in Hoyer and will not be quick to pull him. The Browns are 7-4 in the midst of a playoff race. This is not the time to bench Brian Hoyer despite his struggles. Hoyer has gotten us this far and it’s time to ride Hoyer and this season out and see what this team can accomplish. As long as Hoyer wins and remains healthy he will continue to be the driving force behind the offense, whether it’s good or bad.