Friday, May 17, 2013

Hoyer signing strictly ho hum

OK, so what does signing Brian Hoyer to a two-year contract mean for the Browns? More specifically, Brandon Weeden.

Absolutely nothing.

Barring injury, Weeden will be the Browns’ starting quarterback in the season opener against the Miami Dolphins. Bet on it.

Jason Campbell will be his backup and Hoyer (after the Browns dispatch Thad Lewis) will be the emergency quarterback. He’ll be the guy who dresses but doesn’t get into a game unless at least someone in front of him is injured.

Signing a second-rate quarterback (being kind here) who has been a clipboard holder for three teams in his brief National Football League career is normally not a big story.

But since Hoyer is a St. Ignatius graduate and an avowed favorite of Browns General Manager Mike Lombardi, his signing has stirred a few pots.

About 18 months ago when he was an analyst for the NFL Network, Lombardi declared that Hoyer, at the time backing up Tom Brady in New England, was good enough to be a starter in the NFL.

“If I were the Cleveland Browns, I’d rather have Brian Hoyer (under) center than Colt McCoy,” he told a Boston radio station in November 2011. “I think he’s got all the traits you need in terms of leadership, toughness, the arm strength, the ability to move the team.”

Well, Lombardi is the Cleveland Browns now. He’s the guy who makes all the important personnel decisions and feeds them intravenously to CEO Joe Banner, who takes the major share of the credit.

I wonder what they think of Hoyer now that he’s going to be wearing the Seal Brown and Orange. And whether he still has all those traits at age 27. “Hoyer has demonstrated the skills needed to be a starter,” Lombardi reiterated to a reporter 12 months ago.

It didn’t take the GM long to finally wrap his praise around Hoyer in person. Forty-eight hours after the Arizona Cardinals couldn’t find any buyers for Hoyer’s sterling talents and released him, Lombardi pounced. All he had to do was outwait the Cards and the quarterback fell into his lap.

Weeden handled the news well, although he admitted being surprised. “That’s the nature of the beast,” he said. “It’s part of the business and if you start worrying about it, that’s too much to worry about. That’s my mentality . . .“

So what can we read into bringing Hoyer back to Cleveland? Again, absolutely nothing unless Lombardi sees in his newest acquisition something that is not readily apparent to the eyes of many fans.

Hoyer is your typical journeyman quarterback. Three (now four) teams in four seasons with one start. And that start was in the final game of last season when everyone else in front of him was either injured or brutally ineffective.

It’s obvious why he has started only one game. Playing behind Brady and Ben Roethlisberger (for two games in Pittsburgh last season before he was released) does not bode well for starting status.

We really don’t know what kind of quarterback Hoyer is. We can’t take Lombardi’s word for it because the youngster has done nothing in his NFL career except watch games from the sideline.

All we know is that he completed 19 (of 34) passes for 225 yards with a touchdown and interception in a loss to San Francisco. Eight of those completions and 166 of those yards were to wideout Michael Floyd.

Bottom line: Even with all those wonderful traits Lombardi spoke of, Hoyer is just good enough to be a backup quarterback. And not just with the Browns. He can’t embarrass you from the sideline.

Now we get a chance to see up close and personal just how right (or wrong) Lombardi was about Hoyer. 

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