It's Dec. 1 and the Cleveland Browns find themselves at a crossroads: Which quarterback gives the team the best chance to advance to the playoffs?
While coach Mike Pettine and the coaching staff deliberate the quarterback position, we thought we'd present you with a pros list of why each quarterback deserves to get the nod.
Pros of Brian Hoyer
1) He's been the starter all season long, winning seven games and has helped Cleveland wildly exceed expectations.
2) He has four fourth-quarter comeback victories this season. He's proven he's clutch late in close games.
3) He was with the Patriots during three playoff runs, including a trip the Super Bowl in 2011.
4) He's shown leadership ability in rallying teammates and giving confidence to younger players such as Taylor Gabriel.
5) Hoyer has experience reading NFL defenses and often has made the right audible calls throughout the season.
The bottom line on Hoyer
It's evident that Hoyer is not playing his best football right now. In his last two games, the quarterback has thrown five interceptions while posting a combined quarterback rating of 51.65. The offense has moved the football, but too often Cleveland has been settling for field goal attempts. The Browns can still win games if Hoyer is inaccurate, but they won't be able to win big games down the stretch if Hoyer is turning the ball over.
Here's the thing: In the snap judgment world we live in, naysayers are ready to completely abandon Hoyer. Two poor performances in a row doesn't mean Hoyer's season at quarterback has been a failure, or even further that he can't rediscover the player he was in earlier in the season. At the halfway point many Browns beat writers wrote that Hoyer was the MVP of this football team. Who is to say the veteran won't respond to getting benched and come out on fire against the Colts? Ask the Steelers, Bengals, Titans and Falcons: Hoyer can make enough throws to beat you.
Pros of Johnny Manziel
1) His mobility changes the way defenses play the Browns and may open up the running game.
2) He thrived in pressure situations during his college career at Texas A&M.
3) Other teams don't have an adequate amount of film to study him.
4) Sometimes making a change just for the sake of change can spark a football team.
5) His arm strength is underrated.
The bottom line on Manziel
Given the chance to show the coaching staff what he was made of, Manziel responded. The Browns' lone touchdown drive against the Bills was because of the precision passing, shifty feet and – most importantly – the energy the rookie quarterback visibly brought to the table. Manziel's got the arm strength to make all of the throws and the mobility to become a weapon in the running game – a la Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick. The Browns need more offensive firepower to match the play of their stingy defense.
Here's the thing: As exciting and talented as Manziel is, does he realistically give the Browns the best chance to make the playoffs? With the postseason within reach for the first time since 2002, a bold decision to pull the trigger on Manziel shouldn't be based on any thoughts about the future of the organization. As Joe Haden said, the time is now. It would be naïve of even Manziel's staunchest supporters to think there won't be any growing pains for the rookie quarterback. He will turn the ball over. And there will be a few head-scratching moments. But there will also be plays like his 10-yard touchdown scramble that could ignite the offense.
Manziel passed his small little pop quiz against the Bills. But can he shoulder the burden of taking over the team in the most critical stretch of the season?