Last week before the attention turned from Brian Hoyer and onto the trade of Trent Richardson, head coach Rob Chudzinski was non-committal about who would be the starting quarterback once Brandon Weeden returned from his injury.
This week, Rob Chudzinski named Hoyer the starter for the second week in a row while ruling Weeden out of the game with his sprained thumb. That was a veteran move by a rookie head coach.
Hoyer played well in his first start, but wasn’t without his mistakes. His first half was really good, completing 14 of 23 passes (61%) for two touchdowns and an interception. The Browns had 12 first downs in the half and were 3 of 7 on third down conversions. They scored every time they were in the red zone and scored 24 first half points. This after scoring 16 points total in their first two games.
The second half wasn’t as good. Hoyer was 16 of 31 (52%) in the second half with 147 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. He was very good on the go ahead touchdown drive though.
Hoyer’s play on Sunday might have been enough to earn him another chance this Sunday against the Bengals, but it really doesn’t matter once Chudzinski ruled Weeden out for the game. As Chudzinski said last week, Hoyer gives them the best chance to win the game on Sunday. It doesn’t matter if he has the title of “starting quarterback” or even “franchise quarterback”. That pressure just doesn’t exist because Hoyer is making a spot start.
He’ll likely make another one next Thursday night against the Buffalo Bills.
Brandon Weeden hasn’t thrown a football yet since his injury against the Ravens. Chudzinzki said that he will attempt to throw at some point this week, but didn’t know when.
Whether or not Brian Hoyer plays well against the Bengals, I would have a hard time believing that Brandon Weeden will be back under center for the Browns in that Thursday night game. And that works out well for Rob Chudzinski.
Chudzinski has the luxury of not labeling anyone THE starter. If Hoyer plays well against the Bengals and Bills, then Chud could give him that role, which of course will always create some kind of controversy or animosity. It always does when a starter loses his job, but especially the quarterback.
If Hoyer does not play well over the next two games, then Chudzinski can go back to Weeden without there being a problem since Weeden is the starter returning from an injury.
Is three starts enough to know what the team has in Brian Hoyer? I would say probably it is. For one thing, it isn’t just those three games. It’s the body of work before the season began. It’s the time spent in practice sessions and film studies. It’s the preseason games. All of it adds up to a pretty good snapshot.
The problem will come if Hoyer looks average. Let me rephrase that. The problem will come if Hoyer looks average by Cleveland Browns quarterback standards. (There is a difference, isn’t there?) Then Rob Chudzinski will have to make some sort of determination.
In the meantime, Brain Hoyer continues to live out the dream. This week will be his first start at home in Cleveland. Hoyer said he is looking forward to the opportunity to be introduced in front of his home town friends and family. The St. Ignatius grad and North Olmsted native grew up a Browns fan and said on Wednesday that he used to go to games with his father who had season tickets at old Municipal Stadium behind a post. Hoyer said he admired Bernie Kosar when he was a kid, and joked about watching Eric Metcalf run up the middle.
Standing there watching Hoyer answer questions and joke about the Metcalf teams, you couldn’t help but think that this guy is really ‘one of us’. Which makes it really easy to root for him.
Like all Cleveland athletes though, whether we continue to cheer for him has more to do with his performance on the field and less about the proximity to it from his childhood home.
Let’s face it, if the Browns had a winning quarterback from Sri Lanka we wouldn’t care.