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Based on football logic, Brian Hoyer should remain Cleveland Browns’ starter

Posted Jul 28, 2014

Veteran quarterback showing value of experience.

Brian Hoyer, Johnny Manziel

So far, the battle for the Cleveland Browns’ starting quarterback job is shaping up exactly as football logic suggested it would.

The more experienced guy, Brian Hoyer, is looking more experienced.

The less experienced guy, Johnny Manziel, is looking less experienced.

That’s the football logic.

The media logic has a different take. The media logic seems to be suggesting that, because he was a first-round draft pick and created tremendous excitement on the field in college and is arguably the most recognizable name/face in all of football, Manziel will be the Browns’ starter for the Sept. 7 season-opener at Pittsburgh.

There is no reason to wait, goes the common refrain of those who talk and write about sports for a living, not to mention others who simply love to watch. Let’s see what Johnny Football can do now!

But the first few days of practice at the Browns’ training camp have done plenty to confirm the football perspective on this highly anticipated and well-documented quarterback competition.

In everything he does, Hoyer simply looks more ready to start.

Hoyer is more consistently accurate with his throws and general decision-making. He shows greater command in the huddle and at the line of scrimmage. He gets each play from offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan in the headset in his helmet, and cleanly delivers it to the rest of the offense.

Everything generally runs smoother and more efficiently when Hoyer is at quarterback, which is a big part of the reason he has been working with the starting offense since the first training-camp practice on Saturday.

Not so much with Manziel.

He tends to struggle with the basic communication of plays to the rest of the offense, which is understandable because the language is much longer and more complex than what he dealt with at Texas A&M. He is working under center, which is a dramatic switch from his exclusively being in shotgun with the Aggies.

Although Manziel proved himself to be a tremendous leader in college, he has not demonstrated much of a commanding presence so far because he is too concerned with making sure he gets the details of his own job right before he can show he has a grasp of the offense on a macro level.

When applying football logic, it is clear that the job should belong to Hoyer when the regular season begins.

That does not mean that Manziel has no chance to do something in the meantime to make an overwhelming football case that the job should be his from the outset.

But the reality is that he has a fairly limited amount of time to make that happen, based on the considerable distance he needs to cover to close the gap with Hoyer and the third-week-of-the-preseason timeframe that coach Mike Pettine has established to name a starter.

The reality also is this: if the mostly impressive performance Hoyer displayed in two full games last year and what he has shown through the offseason and early in training camp are a true indication of what he will do this season, Browns fans should want him to be the starter indefinitely.

If, as many have suggested, Manziel should become the starter at least three or four games into the schedule, that means the Browns’ season will have gone sideways – as it too often has in the early stages of previous seasons.

The ideal scenario is for the team to get off to a strong start, with Hoyer doing his part to keep the offense on the rails, and for no change to be necessary for the starting quarterback job. Manziel will benefit greatly from watching and learning, and ultimately, his time will come to be the No. 1 guy.

If it happens sooner, it happens sooner. But if it doesn’t, and if there is any sort of debate over when he does start because Hoyer is performing well, that is a GREAT problem for the Browns.

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