Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Of course it's Hoyer

It was as surprising as the sun coming up in the morning. Or the Browns finishing last again in the AFC North.

Yep, Brian Hoyer will be under center for the Browns in the season opener in Pittsburgh on Sept. 7. Stunning, I know. Didn’t see that one coming (sarcasm clearly intended).

When coach Mike Pettine, after emerging from the think tank with his coaches, chose Hoyer over Johnny Manziel, it raised few eyebrows

Both men have polluted the National Football League exhibition landscape with what can charitably be called less-than-average football. Neither deserves the job based on those performances.

It was a matter of selecting the lesser of two evils. And it was the correct move.

Hoyer played decent football last season after taking over for the ineffective and injured Brandon Weeden at the beginning of the season before slicing and dicing his ACL against Buffalo. Based on that, he got the nod over Manziel.

But last season was last season and does not necessarily translate to this season. Hoyer’s limited success last season does not mean we can expect the same from him this season. That’s taking way too much for granted.

There is no question, though, that his experience had to be the determining factor with Pettine and his offensive staff, not to mention Manziel’s failure to translate his talent to the professional game at this time.

Never mind that he flashed the victory sign minus the index finger at the needling Washington bench in frustration a few nights ago. If Pettine and his guys seriously factored that into the equation, then they need to reevaluate their evaluating system.

The kid lost his composure. So what. All he has to do is make plays once he is promoted to the starting job and the trash talking will stop. But that won’t happen for at least one game as Pettine seems to be the kind of coach who will make his starting quarterback selections on a game-to-game basis.

Right now, it looks as though Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was wrong about which Cleveland quarterback to game-plan for and will have to rejigger his plans for Hoyer, whom he has never faced before.

But not too much. Unlike the more active Manziel, Hoyer will be much easier to locate for the Pittsburgh defense because of his relative immobility. He usually does not stray far from the pocket.

Pettine’s decision only delays Manziel’s inevitable debut. Unless Hoyer unveils an unbelievable season, the kid’s many fans can expect to see him sooner rather than later, perhaps as early as the third game of the season against Baltimore at home.

In the meantime, it is incumbent on the coaching staff to make certain Manziel does not regress the rest of the exhibition season. It would not be a mistake to start him in game four against Chicago Bears on Aug. 28 and play him well into the third quarter.

He needs to be put on a fast track and playing him on a sustained basis, something the Browns have not allowed him to do thus far, would be much more beneficial than harmful.

Makes no difference that he would be facing the Bears’ second-and third-stringers. He needs the experience. We need to see what he can do. And so do the Browns. They didn’t draft him to back up Hoyer. 

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