After being named the Cleveland Browns’ starting quarterback on Wednesday,
After being named the Cleveland Browns’ starting quarterback on Wednesday, Brian Hoyer told reporters he’s used to looking over his shoulder. While he still may approach the game that way, Hoyer is locked in at number one on the depth chart to begin the regular season.
“This is Brian’s job,” said head coach Mike Pettine. "I never think of it as a leash or we want a guy to be a game manager. We want him to be confident and go out and play.”
“It’s been my mentality this whole offseason to come out here and act like the starter and be the starter,” said Hoyer. “When coach Pettine told me this morning, I’m sure I cracked a smile. You realize all the work I put in, now here’s my shot. Now just go out, and run with it. All you can do is ask for an opportunity and to go out and try and seize it. Now that it’s here, it’s time to work harder.”
After collectively analyzing weeks of practice film and two preseason games, the Browns’ coaching staff made the decision late Tuesday night. Pettine met separately with both Hoyer and
Pettine has mentioned several times about finding the “sweet spot” in the competition, meaning let the quarterbacks compete, but don’t drag out the race too long. After considering every option, the plan Cleveland had concocted all along – to name the starter before the third preseason game – remained the most ideal situation.
“We wanted to have a starter in place,” said Pettine. “There’s no substitutions for live game reps with the guys that you’re going to be playing with. There’s so many plays where it involves being on the same page. If you never got a chance to practice them together, or more importantly be in a game situation together, I think you are doing yourself a disservice.”
Several lines of questioning to Pettine and Hoyer had to do with the pressure of the competition, and whether it was weighing on the veteran quarterback. The national media has set up shop here in Berea of the course of the last month and social media and talk radio have been a buzz about Hoyer and Manziel.
For Pettine, the tension of competing for a starting job was a big reason why he wanted an open quarterback competition.
“That’s part of football,” said Pettine. “We wanted to stress our guys. We wanted to put them in tough situations. We talk to the team all the time about mental toughness and dealing with adverse conditions. And I think that was something that [the quarterbacks] went through. And had to deal with. It will only make them stronger.”
Hoyer actually felt the opposite about the training camp competition. Because he was regularly lining up with the starting lineup and was able to command the offense without stepping on toes, this is the most relaxed Hoyer has ever felt coming into a season.
“Last year the biggest thing was that I proved to myself I could play in this league,” said Hoyer. “You always think you can. And then to get out there and play and have success, I think it’s paid dividends this year as far as my mental preparation.
“People want to pin [the Redskins loss] on pressure,” Hoyer continued on the team’s so-so performance on Monday Night Football. “I think we just played poorly – us as an offense collectively. We’ve got to better than that. I don’t think [pressure] ever got to me.”
On the other end of the stick is rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel. The Browns’ head coach said Manziel took the news as you’d expect.
“He’s a competitor,” said Pettine. “He wants to be out there. But he knows there’s some things he needs to work on. And it’s his job to press on and prepare every week like he’s the starter.”
This was a fair and square competition, according to Manziel. But when the final whistle blew, the Texas A&M alum didn’t make enough good plays to beat out the incumbent.
“I feel if I would have [come] out and played better it would have been a different outcome,” said Manziel. “I don’t think that I played terrible, but [I] didn’t really do anything to jump off of the page”
At the present moment, Pettine ruled out using Manziel in certain packages to suit his skill set. Pettine also dismissed rumors about Manziel’s commitment to earn the starting job.
“I don’t question his dedication,” said Pettine. “He made tremendous strides from an X’s and O’s standpoint from the time he left here after the rookie symposium, till the time he came back. I know there’s been a lot of discussion about his activity then, but he clearly studied a lot and came back significantly ahead of where he was.”
Now that the quarterback competition has been put to rest, Pettine’s next focus is gelling the starters together this Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium against the Rams. The early portion of the regular season will come into focus, too.
The Browns’ strategy against the Rams this Saturday will be a little more game specific and the coaching staff will start looking ahead towards game planning for Pittsburgh, New Orleans and Baltimore.
There is no time to celebrate here in Berea, but regardless, Wednesday is all about Brian Hoyer. His commitment to being in the building for the entire offseason shows the dedication he’s willing to pour in to make the Browns a winning franchise.
“There were days where rehab sucked, and I hated what I was doing, but I knew the feeling I had running out into the stadium, or running off the field after we beat Cincinnati – it’s all worth it,” said Hoyer. “It’s amazing how much you appreciate the game when it’s taken away from you.”