I stand as one of the most persistent Brian Hoyer supporters because he gave us the best chance to win. I believed that before and I still feel I was absolutely correct. I do not believe that now.
I have been at nearly every home game since the Browns have come back to the NFL. I saw the personal dismantling of a fantastic quarterback prospect who was playing on a “minor league” team in the NFL. He was dismantled emotionally, eventually dismantled physically by the repeated beatings he took, and then “booed” out of town. The fans forgot what a real talent he was and how he was forced to play before he was ready.
I am not suggesting that the current Browns team is even remotely similar to that embarrassing 1999 team. But Manziel and Couch both had little need to read defenses or go through progressions in their college careers. Manziel simply wasn’t ready and we had a quarterback ready that was very successful in his brief time on the 2013 Browns team. He deserved a chance to prove we could win with him. And win we have. The best start for the Browns since we have been back and we took a 7-4 record into what I knew would be a tough game.
However, as the Browns have become increasingly stagnant offensively, it became clear that the league has caught up with Brian Hoyer and the Browns. The matchup this week was especially troublesome considering it would be tough to run and the pass rush is solid. I knew Hoyer might struggle as he has for most of the time over the past several weeks. If he had been able to get us another win, I would have been supporting him continuing as the Browns quarterback. The reason would have been simple. The Browns were winning and winning is all that counts. Finding out if Manziel is the quarterback of the future is a sidebar that I care little about. Winning this year is the only thing that matters. Why??? Because the Browns need to start winning in order to advance as a team. No other statistic matters.
Early in the second half of the game with the Bills, I think the odds switched. And in my opinion, the odds are switched permanently. Johnny Manziel now gives the Browns the best chance to win. He has paid his dues as the backup and has had a chance to learn the offense and improve his ability to read defenses and go through progressions. Although, as I confidently say this, Manziel still admitted in his post game interview that his greatest concern was calling the plays correctly. He admitted that the veterans helped him with that during his time in the game. Although that sounds great that the veterans helped, I just wish they didn’t have to help Manziel by now. The only saving grace for Manziel is that he will have (I hope) a week to prepare as the starter. That will help.
Manziel will bring a layer of difficulty for the opposing defensive coordinators who don’t know exactly how to defend him yet. That will potentially divert the attention of the defenders from their assignments to Manziel. That can give the Browns an edge.
The obvious fact that Manziel can buy time and throw on the run will help when we face the tougher pass rush teams. But I think it will help against the teams with weaker pass rushes even more. The Colts and Bengals are not in the elite class of defensive front sevens. Not bad for sure, but not elite. I think that extra time to think and read will help Manziel in those games. Plus, his real threat to run might hold some linebackers from going as deep into their drops. Leaving the middle more open for throws.
Kyle Shanahan will be able to make changes in the playbook that might suit Manziel’s strengths and they will be wrinkles not seen thus far. I think we will see a more creative offense with Manziel at the helm.
I simply feel that Manziel will give us the best chance to win now. I am sad for Hoyer but I have no emotional attachment. He had his chance and has no one to blame but himself. His play left the door open and I believe it is time for Manziel to run though it. If Pettine gives him the chance, I think we will see both his strengths and weaknesses. It won’t be all pretty and exciting as Pollyanna Manziel supporter Chuck Booms believes, but it won’t be as stagnant and predictable as we have come to hate under Hoyer.