Browns

Hey Cleveland, it’s me…Quarterback Controversy: Brian Hoyer’s Maiden Voyage with the Cleveland Browns

Hoyer Pats

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The hometown kid is getting the starting nod. One day after saying the decision had not yet been made, Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski announced that their starting quarterback this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings will be one Brian Hoyer. On the cover, a thumb injury sustained by Brandon Weeden a week earlier paved the way for Hoyer to get the nod. Peel back the onion a bit and it becomes a bit more evident that the Browns, currently sitting winless two weeks into the NFL season, were looking to shake things up and this was merely seamless way to do so.

“I have the utmost confidence in all three of our guys, each one brings something different to the table,” said Chudzinski of his quarterback triumvirate. “Based on where we are offensively, we feel that Brian’s strengths are the best fit for this week and he gives us the best chance to win.”

The narrative of this decision writes itself for the nostalgic and optimistic at heart. A former Browns front office member becomes the general manager years down the road. His new head coach was a dog bone-eating Browns fan while he was growing up a few miles west of the lakefront town. The two men sign a kid from Lakewood, Ohio who attended Cleveland’s St. Ignatius who just happened to sit behind New England’s Tom Brady, the same Tom Brady who sat behind Drew Bledsoe before shocking the world and becoming a model-marrying, Super Bowl-winning, Ugg boot-wearing A-List celebrity just a few years after being a doughy sixth-round draft pick.

In contrast, the decision could simply result in the perpetual embarrassment that Browns fans have been forced to endure for the last two weeks. Where the Browns are offensively, as Chudzinski stated, is essentially quicksand. Scoring just one touchdown in two weeks places the Browns second-last in the NFL in scoring. They’re among the league’s worst in yards per game (275.0); garbage time has allowed their passing yardage (219.0 per game) to be ranked considerably better when compared to peers.

“We’re 0-2 right now,” said Chudzinski. “We’re looking to shake things up. We hope this will give us the spark that we need.”

Hoyer, a fifth-year pro, has started one career game in his NFL  career, a loss to NFC-winning San Francisco  49ers at the tail end of last season. It was a respectable outing which featured a 53-yard pass to then-rookie Michael Floyd. He was released by the Cardinals late this past offseason and was promptly scooped up by the Browns on a two-year deal. His transition from free agent to starting quarterback was one that featured sweatpants as Hoyer was listed as inactive one week earlier.

Blame the pass protection, blame the suspensions, blame the dropped balls. What speaks volumes is that Chudzinski stated that there was not a lot of “separation” between his three quarterbacks. Hoyer has a few more years of experience on Weeden and was touted multiple times for being “smart” and “efficient” under center. Though boasting a 40-yard dash time in the 5-second range, Hoyer does provide some shiftiness that can create some uncertainty for opposing defenses. But in the same, Hoyer did not excel at any level of his playing career and was released by a team who also had incredible issues at the quarterback position.

Back in May, WFNY’s Craig Lyndall surmised that Hoyer would not be a factor for the Browns save for an injury or a complete failure. Given that Brandon Weeden amassed just one touchdown over the course of the first two weeks and then slammed his thumb into the helmet of a likely-too-close-for-comfort offensive lineman, it could be argued that both “injury” and “failure” have check marks firmly inked in their respective boxes.

While Chudzinski stated that Weeden’s thumb is not a long-term issue, there were several times on Wednesday morning where the head coach stated that the second-year quarterback will see a hand specialist and that a prognosis is still up for debate. Also up for debate is the future of the Browns’ quarterback position if and when Weeden can return. Certainly, this week will buy the Browns coaching staff and front office some time—the bar for Hoyer has to be incredibly low given the team’s first two weeks and the fact that his experience with the first team offense has, to this point, been limited to 7-on-7 drills.

One week into the 2007 season, Rob Chudizinski was handed a raw and unproven arm by the way of Derek Anderson. Anderson was dreadful in spot duty a season earlier, but took his starting gig and turned a down-field offense into a 10-win team that was an Indianapolis Colts loss shy of making the postseason. In 2010, Colt McCoy took over for an injured Jake Delhomme (and Seneca Wallace) and shocked the world to not only stand strong against the Pittsburgh Steelers, but later triumph over the New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints. He would later be replaced by Weeden.

“We’re going to leave the options open,” said Chudzinski of the future. “We’ll see how things are going—how Brandon’s doing from a health standpoint and put the guy out there who gives us the best chance to win. We’ll see who that is.”

When discussing the Cleveland Browns quarterback situation, the term “fluid” is an understatement. Hoyer will be the 19th starting quarterback to take the field for the Browns since their return in 1999, encompassing just under 200 games. How the hometown kid does this week may provide a fun story with plenty of local lineage, but it will undoubtedly be fleeting as it’s becoming more and more obvious with each day, each game and each press conference that the future at the quarterback position is not currently on the team’s roster.

When Anderson took over for Charlie Frye in 2007, the Arkon product was jettisoned shortly thereafter. If Brandon Weeden is deemed to no longer be the answer at the position, he could very well be next, 17 games into his NFL career.

Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas referred to a quarterback going from a sweatpants-wearing inactive clipboard holder to starter over the No. 2 man as “unusual.” Then again, there isn’t much that this Browns team does which could be considered commonplace.

Image via WFNY/Rick Grayshock

  • stryker1121

    ..in an adventure of a lifetime…

  • stryker1121

    Will there ever be a point where an appreciable amount of fans say, Screw it, I’m done. That is, enough to be noticeable in the seats, or through downshift of exorbitant media coverage, or the buzz that’s always around the team, negative or positive.

    I hate this franchise for the mess they’ve become, and that’s made worse by how much people talk about it, and all the talk is extremely negative and depressing. Something’s gotta give..

  • stryker1121

    Will there ever be a point where an appreciable amount of fans say, Screw it, I’m done. That is, enough to be noticeable in the seats, or through downshift of exorbitant media coverage, or the buzz that’s always around the team, negative or positive.

    I hate this franchise for the mess they’ve become, and that’s made worse by how much people talk about it, and all the talk is extremely negative and depressing. Something’s gotta give..

  • Hamfist

    Ouch.

  • Harv 21

    … buckle your helmets and adjust your cups …

  • stryker1121

    …for the comedy thrill-ride of the holiday season..

  • CBI

    More like the beta version of Charlie Frye?

  • nobody

    Give it a few years…the Browns have almost certainly lost a whole generation of fans with their ineptitude.

  • RGB

    “Once more unto the breach”

  • Adam Copeland

    Exactly. I reached this conclusion definitively after seeing the talent on the field in week 1. How can you go through an entire offseason and not upgrade your CB2 from Buster Skrine?! Kanicki has been saying for awhile the Browns were punting on this season and there’s zero evidence to the contrary.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Hang onto your head but the Browns have reportedly traded Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for their 1st round pick next year and will sign Willis McGhee,

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Scott have you heard this: Browns have reportedly traded Trent Richardson to Indianapolis for their 1st round pick next year and will sign Willis McGhee,

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    You were closer then you thought reportedly the Browns just traded Richardson to the Colts for a #1 pick next year.

  • Welp….now we have our smoking gun with T-Rich. As if we needed more of clue. Good god.

  • saggy

    what idiot was saying 10-6 at the beginning of the year?

    oh, wait….

  • saggy

    …a true Bridge over troubled Water…

  • womp

    “Trouble over Bridgewater”: rated ‘R’ for retarded.