The exhibition football season hasn’t even started yet and already there seems to be a quarterback controversy involving the Cleveland Browns.
Veteran Brian Hoyer has his supporters within the Browns fandom, and of course, there is a tremendous amount of buzz surrounding rookie Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football.
The incredulous thing to us is the Manziel supporters seem to be willing to suffer through another 4-12 and 5-11 campaign in order for the former Heisman Trophy winner to gain much-needed experience.
For a franchise that has lost the number of games Cleveland has over the past 15 years, that is ludicrous.
Who should start for Cleveland in the opener at Heinz Field against the Steelers? The player who gives them the best chance to win and get off to a good start.
Remember, the Browns have won their season lidlifter just once since returning to the NFL in 1999, so a victory in week one would be rarefied air indeed for the franchise.
The notion that Manziel should start no matter what is crazy. If he shows in the pre-season games that he deserves to be under center for the first offensive play of the regular season, then fine, let him start.
There is no hidden agenda for Hoyer here, and we believe the coaching staff doesn’t have an affinity for either QB at this point.
The guess here is that Hoyer is starting against Detroit this Saturday night and will play with the first team offensive unit with Manziel playing with and more to the point, against, the second teamers.
We also think the following week against the Redskins, the roles will be reversed, and the rookie will go with the first team offense against the Washington starters. As a matter of fact, that’s the fair way of doing things.
After those two outings, head coach Mike Pettine will make a decision before the third exhibition contest, the dress rehearsal if you will.
We understand the feelings toward both players. Hoyer is a hometown kid, and he sat and watched and worked with one of the sport’s all time greats in Tom Brady while at New England. He’s going to do a professional job.
Last year, he got an opportunity to start three games and the Browns won all three, although in his last start he was hurt and Brandon Weeden got the bulk of the action in a victory over Buffalo.
Hoyer’s second start, a workman like win over the Bengals at home, is more the type of game we would expect to see from the former St. Ignatius and Michigan State star. The Browns used a ball control offense and a tough defense to dominate Cincinnati.
Manziel is obviously the flashier of the pair, and fans want to see the guy who took college football by storm the past two seasons. He will probably make a lot of great plays, but the potential for some colossal mistakes because of inexperience is there as well.
Mike Pettine has a defensive background and those coaches generally try to win games with that unit. They don’t like quarterbacks to make mistakes which put the defenders in bad situations. That would seem to give Hoyer the edge.
However, the games will start this week although they obviously don’t count. So, if one of the two plays very well and the other doesn’t, the decision will be an easy one. If both Hoyer and Manziel play well or play poorly, then we believe Pettine will go with the veteran to minimize errors.
Either way, the guy who gives the Browns the best chance to win should start. The franchise needs to start putting numbers in the win column this season.