It seems that even when the Cleveland Browns are playing good football, we still have a quarterback controversy.
For the first time in several seasons, the Browns are sitting at 4-3 and most definitely in the race for a playoff spot in a division where every team is currently over .500, the AFC North.
Yet, fans are still debating who should play quarterback, the incumbent, Brian Hoyer or the rookie, Johnny Manziel.
Whether there would be any debate at all stems from Hoyer’s and the entire team’s poor performance against a winless Jacksonville team on October 19th, because had Cleveland won that game, even in a squeaker, they would be sitting at 5-2 and there wouldn’t be a reason for a change.
And, of course, if the back up wasn’t Manziel, the people’s choice and former Heisman Trophy winner, there wouldn’t be a discussion either.
But Hoyer completed less than 40% of his throws that day and the offense couldn’t get into the end zone, and followed that up by not scoring a touchdown for the first three quarters of Sunday’s game against another opponent without a victory, the Oakland Raiders.
Therefore, the entire offensive unit is under scrutiny, including the guy taking the snaps.
There are Hoyer people who staunchly support the local kid and there are Manziel folks who believe he will have the same success he had in college immediately after taking the field in the NFL.
Our opinion is that Hoyer shouldn’t be in jeopardy of losing his job because he is performing decently and the team in winning.
Think about it, if another 4-3 team’s coach announced he was changing his starting quarterback in favor of playing a rookie, you would think he was crazy. But some people want Mike Pettine to do just that and the sooner the better.
Look, Brian Hoyer isn’t Tom Brady, he isn’t Peyton Manning, and he isn’t even Ben Roethlisburger. Those guys are all Super Bowl winners and most likely will be enshrined in Canton someday. Hoyer will never be in the upper echelon of passers in the NFL.
However, right now, he gives the Cleveland Browns the best chance to win games. Why? He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes. He’s thrown two interceptions on the season and fumbled once. He takes care of the football, and that’s what Pettine wants. He doesn’t want to put his defense in a jackpot and have to defend a short field.
And mistakes are what you get with a rookie quarterback. Last week, we documented that the three players drafted in May who are currently starting signal callers preside over among the worst offenses in the NFL in terms of both yardage and scoring. And while Oakland’s David Carr has been relatively interception free, his team doesn’t score a lot of points.
Now Hoyer has had a problem getting the Browns into the end zone the past two weeks, and he hasn’t exactly been a precision passer lately, but he doesn’t turn the ball over either. Yes, at times he’s the dreaded “game manager”. And right now, he’s in control of a team that, with a win at home against Tampa, could be 5-3 at the halfway point of the season.
The coaches see Manziel at practice everyday. If they deemed him a better fit right now for this football team, they would play him. To be sure, they have to be weary for the mistakes that come with being a rookie.
Fans only see the upside with playing Manziel, which is excitement and spectacular plays. Pettine and his staff see the warts and they don’t want to deal with them at this time.
No one, particularly us, is writing off Johnny Manziel. We believe he has a bright future. But it’s not his time right now.