Not many NFL teams had new opening day starting quarterbacks this season.
Oakland Raiders – Derek Carr
Houston Texans – Ryan Fitzpatrick
Minnesota Vikings – Matt Cassel
Carolina Panthers – Derek Anderson (*Cam Newton injured)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Josh McCown
St. Louis Rams – Shaun Hill (*Sam Bradford injured)
Cleveland Browns – Brian Hoyer
Out of that list, the rookie Carr is the only quarterback with less starts than Hoyer. The rest of the league is still figuring out what type of quarterback the Ohio native is. And the reviews continue to be overwhelmingly positive.
"When he's been the quarterback they've played well," said Payton of Hoyer's play as the starter. "He's someone that obviously has got a pretty good grasp as to what they're doing from a system. On film, you can see him make enough plays and you can see that – I guess you would say that – how calm and cool he is. Even in duress, he'll stand in the pocket and deliver and still take a hit.
"That toughness is something that you see, and I think he's handled all of the potential distractions with regards to the competition, it appears he's handled that well."
Hoyer's career stats with the Browns as a starter: 3-1 record, six touchdowns, three interceptions, 76-for-127, 845 yards passing.
Drew Brees offers advice to Duke Johnson Jr.
If there's any current NFL quarterback who Johnny Manziel draws the most hopeful comparisons to, it's Drew Brees. In college, Manziel could make any and every deep throw, was at times impossible to sack, and most importantly, could put up five touchdowns with ease.
That describes exactly what Brees has turned his unbelievable 14 career into.
"The wins, the offensive numbers are legendary," said Browns head coach Mike Pettine.
There are two other big aspects of Manziel's young career that are running parallel to Brees': not playing as a rookie, and their height.
What many people don't remember is that Brees did not even start a football game until his second season in the NFL.
When the San Diego Chargers drafted Brees in 2001, the rookie quarterback from Purdue watched Doug Flutie lead the Chargers down the wrong path in a sour 5-11 season. Brees appeared in one game in mop-up duty. Sitting on the bench as a rookie is often out a players control.
Brees started his second season and played decent, 17 touchdowns, 16 interceptions and an 8-8 record. But there was still a pocket of the fan base calling for Doug Flutie. After Brees posted a 1-7 record to begin the 2003 season, the Chargers had no choice but to bench Brees. It wasn't until his fourth pro season where everything started to click, when he led San Diego went 12-4 he launched 27 touchdown passes to only seven interceptions.
That's the lesson for Manziel to take: in a sports society that's become a now-now-now, instant results habitat – especially in the NFL – there are still those situations where players can grow and eventually morph into game-changing quarterbacks.
As for being on the shorter end of the spectrum of quarterbacks, Brees says Manziel needs to tune out those who overanalyze his height.
"Height has nothing to do with it. It's all in your mind and in your heart," said Brees. "Obviously he's a very exciting player. His college career was unbelievable. I'm sure when he gets the opportunity he'll kind of be that playmaker that he's always been."
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