Nov 30, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) prepares to throw the ball during the second half against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Buffalo beats Cleveland 26 to 10. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
Surprise! Johnny Manziel is not starting for the Cleveland Browns this Sunday as Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts roll into FirstEnergy Stadium, but when you think about it, the news shouldn’t be that shocking.
Coach Mike Pettine and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan are going with Brian Hoyer because they believe the Cleveland native gives the Browns the best chance to win this Sunday–and in a bottom line business–that’s all that matters.
Manziel appeared poised to start after relieving Hoyer and his forgettable effort against the Buffalo Bills Sunday, and Johnny Football didn’t disappoint. He moved the Browns right downy he field on an eight-pllay, 80-yard scoring drive.
Nov 30, 2014; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams (95) sacks Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bills won 26-10. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
And while the Dawg Pound understandably wants to see Johnny, the decision to go with Hoyer is probably the right one.
Hoyer isn’t the sexy choice, and his month of November was mostly forgettable, but it’s critical to remember that the Browns are fighting for a playoff spot and starting a rookie quarterback with games left on the schedule isn’t usually a recipe to play in January.
Just look around the league, and you’ll notice rookie quarterbacks struggling to produce as The success enjoyed by college quarterbacks is something reserved for the NCAA history books
The notable names from this year’s draft class–Blake Bortles (2-8), Teddy Bridgewater (3-6) and David Carr (1-11) have all had more bad moments than goood, as the rookie QBs have combined for just six wins.
Johnny could be the exception to the rule, but probably not. The Browns are fighting for their playoff lives against other teams looking to position themselves for a postseason run. Three of Cleveland final opponents (Indianaopolis, Cincinnati and Baltimore) are fighting for playoff positioning.
It’s one thing to ask Manziel to start an October road game in Jacksonville. It’s another to ask him to save the Browns season.
Bortles, who was the only quarterback taken ahead of Manziel with the No. 3 overall pick, has nine touchdowns against 15 interceptions. He’s completing 62.4 percent of his passes as the Jaguars are 2-8 with the University of Central Florida product taking snaps.
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Teddy Bridgewater, the last player taken in the first round, has also had struggled, as it’s hard to forget the three picks he threw in just his second pro start. Still, Bridgewater has managed to throw more touchdowns than interceptions (8 to 7), but his play hasn’t had a huge impact as the Vikings are just 3-6 with him as the starter as the former Louisville Cardinals is completing 61.1 percent of his passes.
David Carr, a second round pick, is the only rookie quarterback to start from day one. His Oakland Raiders have one win, while the Carr is struggling to complete more than 60 percent of his throws. Carr has had his moments, and has 14 touchdowns against 11 picks, so there’s reason to believe he can get better, as long as Oakland builds a better team around him.
Last year’s draft class doesn’t exactly won’t exactly calm your nerves about inserting Manziel, either. The first quarterback taken–E.J. Manuel–was benched in favor of Kyle Orton in Buffalo. In New York, it’s anyone’s guess as to whether Geno Smith is starting or coming off the bench as the former West Virginia star has busted under Jets coach Rex Ryan.
Pettine believes Hoyer gives the Browns the best chance to win. It’s a decision that doesn’t breathe a lot of optimism in Browns Country, but it was a decision the first-year head coach had to make.