Replacing Brian Hoyer With Johnny Manziel Was a Decision Better Not Made


Nov 16, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) is sacked by Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt (99) during the first quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Admit it. You were excited when you saw Johnny Manziel scrambling for his helmet after Brian Hoyer took a devastating hit during the Cleveland Browns loss to the Houston Texans Sunday afternoon at FirstEnergy Stadium.

But Hoyer, who dropped to one knee at one point to collect himself, wasn’t coming out, and coach Mike Pettine wasn’t going to make a quarterback change.

It’s the right move, because for as much excitement Manziel brings to the franchise, Hoyer is the starting quarterback of this team. He has the Browns at 6-4, and despite an abomination of a loss, the Cleveland native still has the Browns in playoff contention.

Nov 16, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) is hit as he throws by Houston Texans inside linebacker Brian Cushing (56) during the fourth quarter at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Texans beat the Browns 23-7. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Hoyer detractors will point to his stat line, and they’re right. It didn’t look good. He was an awful 20-of-50 for 330 yards, with one touchdown and an interception. The fact he threw 50 times also stands out. That’s not how Hoyer wins games. Yes, the Browns were behind most of the day, so offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan needed to play catch up, but the team was still close enough that the running game could be effective.

Except, it wasn’t.

Browns’ backs carried the ball just 24 times, after the team accounted for 52 runs during their win against Cincinnati a week earlier.

Prior to the Texans contest, the most passes Hoyer attempted was 41–and that came in another ugly loss at the hands of the Jaguars. The only other time he topped the 40-attempt threshold was when he threw exactly 40 passes in the Week 2 victory against the Saints.

Hoyer was also hurt when Isaiah Crowell coughed up a fumble on 1st down at the Texans 19 with just over six minute to go in the half. The score was 7-7 then, and the Browns looked poised to take a lead heading into the locker room. Instead, the momentum shifted and  Ryan Mallett lead a touchdown drive going the other way.

Billy Cundiff also shanked that should-a-been-a-gimmee 38-yard field goal halfway through the first quarter. Points were left off the board. What’s Hoyer supposed to do?

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Could Johnny have done something in the second half? Possibly, but unlikely. Nothing he did in the preseason should make anyone think he can walk into an NFL game and pull out a come from behind when a stalwart such as J.J. Watt is single handily destroying your offensive line. Yes, Manziel’s had a good chunk of time to learn and practice behind Hoyer, but nothing simulates the real thing.

Besides, Hoyer is a better second-half performer. Heading into Week 10, he had a 82.9 quarterback rating in the first half, compared to a rating of 97.5 in the final two quarters.

Manziel will always bring intrigue, but it’s not his time yet. It’s not his team. Hoyer got the Browns to this point, it’s his shot to ride it out.

Would you have made a switch to Johnny Manziel?