The Browns got their 7-5 record with Brian Hoyer at quarterback, and, after some "lively discussions," deemed he's the best choice for Cleveland's 2014 playoff push.
Coach Mike Pettine announced Wednesday the Browns will keep Hoyer in the starting lineup when the team hosts the Indianapolis Colts (8-4) at FirstEnergy Stadium this Sunday.
What was the deciding factor when the Browns brass chose Hoyer over rookie Duke Johnson Jr.?
"The fact that he'd be in there. He was a part of our success," Pettine said. "It wasn't perfect and he's made his share of mistakes. But he's gotten the lion's share of the reps in practice and virtually all of them in games. And he has us in the thick of a playoff hunt. That to me was probably the biggest determining factor."
Pettine said he and the coaching staff came to a decision Tuesday morning. Both Hoyer and Manziel received the news in separate meetings.
"It was close," Pettine said. "It was difficult because how [Manziel] played."
After reviewing the film and taking a step back from the emotion of Sunday's loss in Buffalo, Pettine made it clear all of the staff involved in the decision agreed starting Hoyer against the Colts was the right call to make.
"You almost look at it like a risk-reward situation," said Pettine. "There's a lot of unknown [with Manziel]. And we've known we've been very effectively offensively, at times. We are hopeful we can get back to those times when we were efficient moving the ball and eating up the clock.
"We're going to get Brian playing better. He knows there's some things he needs to work on. He's shown the ability to bounce back from things that have happened negatively in the past. Just look internally at the Atlanta game … he made the mistakes he made and was able to bounce back. We're confident he'll be able to do that this week."
Cleveland's head coach also made it clear the entire offense needs to pick up its game, not just Hoyer. The Browns aren't a quarterback-centric offense like the Colts are with Andrew Luck. Receivers all need to be on the same page and running backs need to protect the football with more care.
"There's no position that's immune to it. We all know we need to elevate our level of play in order to be successful," said Pettine.
Pettine keeps a pulse on the Browns' rabid fan base and knows pockets of the fan base had varying opinions on Hoyer and Manziel.
"The Dawg Pound is happiest when we are winning," said Pettine. "The decision was based purely on football."
Pettine said it's also fair to say using a set of Manziel package plays against Indianapolis has been discussed more this week. But the coach also clarified Cleveland isn't thinking about putting Hoyer on any type of leash. There's no sense in dwelling on hypothetical negative situations.
"The reason Hoyer was named the starter is that we're confident he can go out there and lead us to a win," said Pettine.