Making the cases for Johnny Manziel or Brian Hoyer as starter

Manziel and Hoyer

Neither Johnny Manziel nor Brian Hoyer have won the Cleveland Browns quarterback job. You can make the case for either quarterback at this point, mostly because you can’t make a good case for either. Rather than haggle over who gets to plant their flag in the rotting soil that has become the Browns’ QB depth chart, I figured I would just make the case for both guys so we can skip the part where we argue about it. In the end, the only thing I’m sure of is that the Browns need to name someone the starter for week one so whoever it is can be the best prepared they can be.

The case for Brian Hoyer

Brian Hoyer is a veteran with experience reading professional defenses. He’s struggled for a few different reasons this pre-season, but he should be named the starting quarterback for the Browns.

Brian Hoyer will likely keep getting better as he gains reps on that surgically repaired knee. Once he is named starter and gets the comfort level of knowing that he no longer has to look in his rear-view mirror for a man with the last name “Football,” he’ll get back some of that rhythm and chemistry he seemed to have with the offense a year ago. Hoyer isn’t blessed with all the top-level physical abilities, but he’s got an undeniably quick release that relies on timing and chemistry.

Brian Hoyer might lack the elite talent level of Johnny Manziel, but he’ll bring a calm veteran presence. He’ll at least keep the Browns in games to allow the defense to shine. In fact, considering the lack of running options Hoyer had a year ago, he will likely be that much better. Plus, not that Johnny’s bird is all that relevant, it’s emblematic of the maturity differences between the two guys. That’s why at least to start the year, Brian Hoyer is the guy for the job.

The case for Johnny Manziel

Johnny Manziel needs to start the year for the Cleveland Browns. Look, we all knew Brian Hoyer was something of a long-shot. That’s why the Browns drafted Johnny Manziel. Plus, even if you love Brian Hoyer, he hasn’t appeared to nail down the job, despite the fact that he was given every opportunity. Johnny Manziel hasn’t grabbed that bull by the horns either, but the best is yet to come for Mr. Football. That’s why it’s an easy choice to name Manziel the starter right now.

Yes, Johnny will take some bumps and bruises. He’s a rookie, so you have to assume there will be some bad games and bad turnovers, but what you get with Manziel that you don’t get with Brian Hoyer or any of the other young QBs since 1999 is dynamic play-making ability. Manziel isn’t the fastest guy on the field, but he has quickness and escapability that will extend plays.

No matter who the quarterback is, the Browns will rely heavily on the run game with Ben Tate and Terrance West. That being the case, on throwing downs, you might as well turn loose the talent-rich rookie Johnny Manziel. That’s why I give my vote to Manziel to start the season for the Browns.


So now that I’ve made the case for both QBs, feel free to ignore all this and fight for your guy in the comments.

  • MrCleaveland

    Johnny Fresh Meat? Fuggeddaboutit.

  • If they start JFF then they have to ride or die with him. Pulling JFF because he’s playing poorly and then putting in Hoyer would be an unmitigated disaster.

    If they don’t start Hoyer first, they may as well cut him.

  • Harv 21

    Once more with feeling, Craig. Doesn’t sound like you believe a word you’re saying in support of either one.

    After watching half of last night’s dumpster fire I’m more excited about watching video clips of the moving trucks outside Kevin Love’s mcmansion than I am about watching the opener against the Steelers.

  • I don’t consider this to be terribly complicated: start Hoyer until at least the bye. At that point, if he hasn’t shown any sign of being the guy he was last season (albeit briefly), then you consider the change. As Mark J points out here, though, once you make the switch to John Pigskin, he’s your guy for the remainder of the season (assuming he survives that long. Seriously.) regardless of effectiveness. Meanwhile, let’s assign a scout to every Oregon game now, just to be thorough. May not even need to rely on Buffalo being bad to get a top spot in the 2015 draft after all.

  • thenoclist

    I think the Browns might have the first 2 picks in the draft next year.

  • Your Mariota love is unrelenting.

  • I see the season is already over.

  • iHeartCleveland

    Sorry for interrupting the discussion, but I wanted to share an awesome t-shirt my friend designed – “I Heart Lebron” with a repaired/bandaged heart. Check it out if you have time –

  • Tron

    I wanted Manziel in the draft as much as anybody but the one thing that did concern me was the media attention that he would bring. If you go on ESPN or SI today they’re having aneurysms over last night. And it’s only preseason.

    This kind of circus can ruin a players career.

    You can say Manziel is partly to blame for hanging with Bieber and what not but honestly if I was Manziel i’d be drinking too (not that that keeps me from drinking anyways).

  • cmm13

    Problem of course being that Johnny was drinking and partying before the real success came.

    A Heisman in college, beating Alabama….. okay.

    The media may have jumped into the stands to watch the circus but Johnny pitched the tent and put on the makeup.

  • Jason Hurley

    Shut up, Meg.

  • bossman09

    Do you want to win in 2014 or wait until 2015? That determines who you should start.

  • eldaveablo

    Suddenly, that media invented “Hoyer for Andre Johnson” trade sounds like the best thing ever.

  • BenRM

    This would be my logic for starting Hoyer as well.

  • BenRM

    Where’s my I Heart Vince Young option?

  • Garry_Owen

    Hint: If you’re going to feel sorry, don’t do what you’re about to do.

  • Garry_Owen


  • Garry_Owen

    To put a finer point on it, I would say it this way: Do you think you have a shot to win in 2014, or do you wait until 2015? Hoyer is no guarantee of wins. To me, it seems as if the question is this: Does Hoyer get you to the playoffs in 2014? If so, you have to start him, as Manziel is not at all likely to do so. If the answer is “no,” then I can definitely see an argument for starting Manziel – and in fact, I think that’s where I’m leaning. We’re a 6-10 team, at best, with Hoyer. Might as well give Manziel some experience and see what happens. I think he’s the kind of guy that will just get better the more he plays.

  • Harv 21

    who is “you”? If you’re Pettine the answer is obviously 2014, given your complete lack of bona fides as a head coach and Jimmy’s itchy trigger finger.

  • Warburton MacKinnon

    I really wanted Hoyer to win this competition,but he hasn’t and he seems to be regressing. Since all i have to really judge by is what I have seen in 2 preaseason games,Manziel wins by a hair..he’s just been more consistent. The team seems to flow downfield better right now when Johnny is playing. Hoyer keeps shooting himself in the foot,Manziel is at least improving even from one drive to the next. I don’t particularly like the kid,nor did I want him drafted by the team,but as of right now he has an upside and I have only seen downside from Hoyer in this preaseason.

  • eldaveablo

    I just want to see the Hoyer of last year. Was it just a small population to pull from and he really isn’t as good as he looked last year? Is the knee injury something that caused him to regress? Has it just been two meaningless preseason games so far and not a real indication of what he brings?

    All are plausible. I just want to know what we’re dealing with. I’ve been firmly in the camp of giving Hoyer the first 3 weeks and reassess during the bye week, but right now I can’t get over just how bad he was last night, and not a whole lot better against the Lions.

    Now I just want to name someone the starter and QB and let them get some (any!) chemistry with the WRs. Actually, maybe we need to name the starters at WR immediately too. This must improve, and soon.

  • It’s deep and it’s real. Which means he will either not live up to my expectations or do so for another team. The fates are cruel.

  • “No offense, but…”

  • I don’t think there’s any way a knee injury doesn’t affect you the first season back, unless of course you’re Adrian Peterson. Hoyer is not Adrian Peterson, and also spends each play squarely in the crosshairs of numerous large, angry men. He may not be eager to stand in with pressure surrounding him, leading to some of these poor throws. Not the only factor, but a big one.

  • mgbode

    why would you cut Hoyer knowing our history of week1 QBs finishing the year starting? if any team knows the value of a backup QB (and QB3), then it should be our team.

  • mgbode

    given Love’s proclivity for the full court pass, he may be the best option at QB right now.

  • BKJD

    Should really be sorry for not designing a better looking t shirt if they’re going to be charging $23.

  • mgbode

    there is a recent poster who can likely help you with that option

  • mgbode

    I don’t know. RGIII got Washington to the playoffs in 2012. Johnny is pretty similar to him. Now, defenses may have adjusted because of RGIII, so maybe that point is no longer valid.

    Again, I don’t know.

  • Garry_Owen

    I hate this phrase, but I think Griffin was more “NFL ready” than Manziel is, maybe only by a hair. I also think that Washington had more talent.

    Regardless, the more I think about it, the more I want to see Manziel start. I really like Hoyer, but we might as well see what we’ve got. There are QBs that you don’t throw to the wolves, but Manziel isn’t one of them. Indeed, I think he’s the kind of guy that you do throw to the wolves and let him beat the wolves. If he fails, then we know what he is, and we still have Hoyer. I realize that’s contradictory to my “NFL ready” comment, but I guess that’s just evidence of Manziel’s enigmatic nature. I say play him, and let him be Johnny Football. We’ll see if that “Football” is the same “Football” that’s in “NFL.”

  • Cruel indeed

  • tsm

    My simple solution is to play the best QB. This is how sports usually work. No reason to over think this. The goal is to win as many games as possible. This is what the coach is paid to do.

  • MoreGolfLessWork


  • mgbode

    yeah, pretty much where I am at as well.

  • mgbode

    the difficult thing is to determine who that guy is on days when they both play like they did on MNF.

  • bupalos

    I think amidst all the hysterics it’s worth remembering: Hoyer threw 6 passes last night. We are talking about 6 passes, which I think go in the categories 2 good. 2 bad. 2 indifferent. All 6 were credible targets that I can’t fault where he chose to go with the ball. If you wanted to have a takeaway, it was hey, maybe you can’t always count on him to put the ball in the right spot.

    Manziel’s performance showed more to take away. His escapability isn’t going to operate the same way in the NFL as college and he isn’t recognizing what the defense is giving with any consistency. And you can’t count on him to put it in the right spot either. If I want to win a game tomorrow, I definitely pick Hoyer.

  • I wouldn’t cut Hoyer, but if they bypass him for JFF and don’t even give him a shot then they’re effectively cutting him anyway.

    His deal is up at the end of the year. I think he would look elsewhere, Matt Cassel style.