On Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, the Cleveland Browns were given the opportunity of a lifetime to upset one of the best teams in the NFL. After their defense frustrated Andrew Luck and generated four turnovers and 14 defensive points, all Brian Hoyer and the offense had to do was be average in order to complete the upset.
Unfortunately for the fourth consecutive week in a row, Hoyer’s performance left a lot to be desired—and the Colts completed the comeback to defeat the Browns 25-24. On a day where Luck finished with a 59.8 passer rating, the Cleveland Browns offense could not muster more than 10 points despite being handed the game on a platter by their defense—and that is a major problem.
Forget about all of the “we need to find out what we have in Johnny Manziel” talk for a moment.
This is completely about Hoyer’s play at the quarterback position over the past four weeks, and his future with the franchise. With the team in a prime position to make a playoff push, Hoyer has looked less like the game manager he was touted as and more like a scared backup quarterback thrown into the fire for the first time.
Hoyer finished Sunday’s contest against the Colts with a stat line reminiscent of so many discarded quarterbacks of Cleveland’s past. He completed 14-of-31 passes for 140 yards and two interceptions—failing to register a touchdown pass for the third consecutive game and fourth time in his last five games.
The Michigan State product and hometown kid has completely lost control of the starting quarterback position since the team destroyed the Cincinnati Bengals in a Thursday night primetime game. In the four games since the victory, Hoyer has compiled a 1-3 record and an awful stat line to go with it. He has completed 75-of-151 passes (49.6 percent) for 984 yards, one touchdown and eight interceptions (stats from ESPN).
For the fans, this should not be about being on “Team Manziel ” or “Team Hoyer.”
The decision looming over head coach Mike Pettine’s head is one that comes down to one person and one person only, Hoyer. His performance has been atrocious since the team moved to 6-3 on the season on November 6th, and with a chance to run the table and win 10 games on the season, he has shown absolutely nothing to suggest he is the quarterback who won five of six games between October 5th and November 6th.
No, Hoyer has reverted to the guy many—including this writer—touted him as being last season. Hoyer has proven to be the journeyman backup who has the ability to step in and start when necessary. He will have some good performances that make you think he can be “the guy,” but when it comes down to it, he cannot single-handedly win a football game for you—and that is something you absolutely need at the quarterback position when you are trying to get to the playoffs and compete for a Super Bowl.
With Hoyer facing free agency in the offseason as well, the time is now to pull the plug on the Hoyer era in Cleveland. From the performance on the field to his comments off the field, the stage has gotten too big for Hoyer—and this team needs more from the quarterback position.
All of this instantly leads to the question, is Manziel the answer to all that ails the Cleveland Browns?
Nobody truly knows the answer that question, but he is the backup quarterback for the team and has been touted as “ready to play” by his head coach. Add in the fact that he was a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, and this means the Texas A&M product and former Heisman Trophy winner will get the first crack to be “that guy” for the Cleveland Browns.
But once again, this pending decision should not be about Manziel waiting in the wings. It should be about the performance of the current quarterback on the field and the potential for him to bounce back, both of which Hoyer has failed at miserably.
It is time for Pettine to stick to his “Play Like a Brown” mentality and move on from Hoyer at the quarterback position. And by default, that means it should be Manziel time in Cleveland against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday.