Today Cleveland Browns Head Coach Rob Chudzinksi named Brian Hoyer the starting QB following the injury to Brandon Weeden. Hoyer was third behind Weeden and Jason Campbell but jumped Campbell for the starting job. In Week 2 when Weeden was injured it was Campbell who came in not Hoyer. Hoyer, a local boy, who went to college at Michigan State was undrafted. He was signed by New England as a undrafted free agent and was Tom Brady’s primary backup for 3 years until he was released in favor of 3rd round draft pick Ryan Mallett. Hoyer finished last season with the Arizona Cardinals but was released from his restricted free agent tender leading to his low level signing with the Browns. In the pre-season Hoyer played primarily with the third stringers. Hoyer played the entire 4th game of the pre-season as starters for both teams sat out the game. Hoyer ended the game 24 of 35 for 307 yards, 1 TD and 2 INTs. Chudzinski has not committed to Weeden or anyone else as the starting quarterback for the rest of the season. Here we will analyze how Hoyer being named for Week 3 may impact the Browns versus the Vikings.
Size and Strength
One attribute that is often noted about Weeden is that he has the size and arm strength to compete in the NFL. This is also vitally important attribute in Norv Turner’s offense. Hoyer stands at 6’2″ and has never been noted for his strong arm. While the return of Josh Gordon should open up the deep ball more then in the past 2 weeks, Hoyer’s arm may limit this impact.
One of Weeden’s weaknesses in the first 2 weeks, and last year, was his accuracy. Throwing the ball behind, in front or too hard to his receivers. While Hoyer has had limited experience in the NFL accuracy has been something he has been noted for. The Patriots deciding to keep him as Brady’s backup is a great sign of his ability to digest an offense and to deliver the ball on time.
While Weeden is almost exactly 2 years older then Hoyer he has 3 less years of NFL experience then the new starting QB. Hoyer’s experience in pro-sets offenses should allow the team to run more with the QB under center, which could open up the run game. Very few plays with Weeden have been set with a 2 back traditional set. This may allow for more downhill running and open up the play action passing game.
Weeden has greater arm talent then Hoyer but the later has shown a greater football IQ. This could allow Hoyer to minimize his limitations and maximize the talent around him. Hoyer may struggle to stretch the field or throw into small windows but should be able to lead his receivers open instead of waiting for them to come open.
Hoyer could easily remind many of Colt McCoy, except Hoyer will have great talent around him then McCoy did during his time. If Hoyer is given time to throw and Trent Richardson can get the run game going then this game may seem to be the start of the “Hoyer era.” Those expectations and results will excite the Browns’ faithful but are misleading. The Ravens and Dolphins have strong rush defenses and their pass rush has been excellent. A win, with competent QB play, against the Vikings would be as attainable with Weeden as it is with Hoyer. Limiting turnovers while making just enough plays is a good expectation. Expect another defensive struggle of a game.