You make the call: Hoyer or Johnny Football

Both struggle Monday night against Skins.
Aug 19, 2014


Talk about not living up to the hype.
The duel between Browns quarterbacks Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel in a 24-23 loss to Washington on Monday night at FedExField disappointed in almost unimaginable fashion because neither player made significant strides or a strong case he should become the starter heading into the upcoming season.
The veteran and rookie combined to deliver perhaps the biggest dud since the Y2K scare. Despite all the hoopla, nothing of much importance happened with the Browns’ top two quarterbacks in the team’s second preseason game.
The most-talked-about moment came when Manziel was caught on camera sticking his middle finger in the air, a gesture aimed at his opponents, late in the third quarter.
“It does not sit well,” Browns coach Mike Pettine said. “I was informed of it after the game. It’s disappointing because what we talk about is being poised and being focused, that you have to be able to maintain your poise. That’s a big part of all football players, especially the quarterback. We have to keep our composure. That’s something we’ll obviously address.”
Hoyer and Manziel’s prime-time showdown, nationally televised on ESPN’s Monday Night Football, was supposed to be their final audition before a victor was scheduled to be declared.
The Browns planned to meet Tuesday to choose one of the them as the starter for the Sept. 7 regular-season opener at Pittsburgh.
But why wouldn’t Pettine call an audible and force the quarterback derby into overtime after Monday night’s debacle? After the game, he wouldn’t rule it out.
“It’s still something we’d like to do,” Pettine said of possibly making a decision Tuesday. “We’ll see.”
Could the Browns wait until after their next exhibition game to select a starter?
“It’s possible,” Pettine said. “I think all of the options are on the table.”
Pettine has said a committee led by him, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains will make the decision. Pettine made it clear he would exercise his power to break a tie should one occur.
There was a tie Monday night, but it was a dead heat in futility.
Pettine has said all along he wants to name a starting quarterback before the team’s third exhibition game Saturday against St. Louis. He wants the starter to have an opportunity to build chemistry with his supporting cast during a “dress rehearsal” in which the first-team offense will likely play into the third quarter in preparation for Week 1.
Right now, there is no semblance of cohesion on offense. The Browns squandered several opportunities to capitalize on the playmaking abilities of their defense and trailed 7-3 at halftime.
Hoyer and Manziel played so poorly some observers are wondering whether the Browns would be better off scrambling to find a new starting quarterback.
“That’s not a choice,” Pettine said. “Somebody has to be ready for the opener.”
Manziel’s inability to keep his cool during the game certainly didn’t help him convince the coaching staff he’s the answer right now. ESPN reported he is subject to an NFL fine worth as much as $11,025 for flipping the bird.
“I get words exchanged with me throughout the entirety of the game, every game, week after week,” Manziel said. “I should’ve been smarter. It was a Monday Night Football game. The cameras were probably solidly on me, so I just need to be smarter about that.
“I just need to let it slide off my back and go to the next play. I felt like I did a good job of holding my composure throughout the night and you have a lapse of judgment and slip up.”
Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden said Manziel was provoked but also added, “I wouldn’t have did it” when asked about the gesture.
“If you stand on our sideline, it’s so bad. The whole time, everybody was talking, just the worst things you could ever imagine about Johnny,” Haden said. “I was next to him a lot of times on the sideline. He gets a lot of grief. You’ve just got to try to not listen to it.
“That’s from everybody. Their bench, their fans, everybody. There’s a lot going on. There’s a lot of pressure on him. Just people talking. It can get a little bit overwhelming.
“He gets a lot of attention. There’s a lot of people that just scream out things that are very, very disrespectful. You’ve just got to zone it out.”
So, in a span of a week, Manziel was late to a team meeting and flipped off his opponents. Asked if he thought those two incidents might be factors in his tight race with Hoyer, Manziel said, “No, no, no, no.”
Added Pettine: “It’s whoever gives us the best chance to win the opener will be the starter.”
At this point, neither Hoyer nor Manziel appears capable of slaying the Steelers.
Is Hoyer pressing?
“It’s hard to tell,” Pettine said. “I know he missed some throws. They both missed some throws. [Manziel] made some plays, but he left a couple of plays on the field, threw a couple of balls low, threw behind some receivers. There was definitely stuff that needs to be cleaned up.”
Hoyer appeared to be a slight front-runner over Manziel heading into the game, and he received the starting nod. Hoyer played four series, plus one play at the end of the second quarter. He faced Washington’s first-team defense during his first two series and backups the rest of the way.
Hoyer completed just 2-of-6 passes for 16 yards. His longest pass went for 12 yards, and he finished with a passer rating of 42.4.
Does Hoyer think he has fallen victim to pressing?
“No, I don’t think so at all. I don’t think I am,” Hoyer said. “Things in a game are a little different than a practice. So it’s not anything that it’s pressing. If I’m thinking about trying to make the perfect throw, it’s not going to (happen). I’ve just got to go out and do it, and there’s no excuse for it.”
Manziel entered the game with 5:26 left in the second quarter after Hoyer took the first two series. He played two series in the first half, both of which were against Washington’s starters, and completed 2-of-7 passes for 29 yards and a rating of 44.3.
Manziel remained in the game until undrafted rookie Connor Shaw replaced him with 9:46 left in the fourth quarter. Manziel went 5-of-9 passing in the second half while surrounded by backups and going against backups.
Overall, Manziel completed 7-of-16 passes for 65 yards and a touchdown, finishing with a passer rating of 76.3. He ran once for a 1-yard loss.
“I don’t think I did a very good job today,” Manziel said. “I think there was a lot of room for me to improve, some throws that I wish I would’ve had back. But I’m not sure. That’s really up to Coach Pettine and the higher powers than it is me. I think I just need to come in every day and continue to try to get better. ... I’m hard on myself, and I think I need to get a lot better.
“I think with my play in college, I set the bar very high for myself. So people are going to expect what I did in college consistently. But it’s a different league, it’s a different level, it’s a different team, it’s a completely different environment for me. I just need to continue to get better and hopefully one day, be able to do some of the things that I did in college at that level.”
Manziel dumped a short pass over the middle to running back Dion Lewis, allowing Lewis to run for an 8-yard touchdown with 13:33 left in the fourth quarter, trimming the Browns’ deficit to 14-10. Safety Jim Leonhard’s 19-yard interception return for a touchdown off a pass from former Browns quarterback Colt McCoy gave the Browns a 17-14 advantage with 12:19 left in the fourth quarter.
But a 26-yard field goal by Kai Forbath tied the score with 9:46 left, and McCoy’s 30-yard touchdown pass to receiver Nick Williams gave Washington a seven-point advantage with 2:01 remaining. Williams’ score was a result of Browns cornerback Royce Adams being beaten in coverage and surrendering his second touchdown of the night.
The Browns scored a 45-yard touchdown as time expired when Shaw’s pass was tipped by receiver Willie Snead and caught in the end zone by tight end Emmanuel Ogbuehi. But instead kicking an extra point, tying the score 24-24 and entering a dreadful preseason overtime period, Pettine elected to go for two. Shaw threw a high pass toward receiver Charles Johnson in the end zone that fell incomplete.
Aside from Lewis’ touchdown in garbage time, neither Hoyer nor Manziel received much help from the rest of the offense.
The Browns’ first possession was a disaster because linebacker Ryan Kerrigan zoomed untouched around right tackle Mitchell Schwartz and sacked Hoyer. Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Thomas was flagged for a false start before the next snap. On second-and-21 at the Browns’ 9-yard line, Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron wasn’t looking for the ball and failed to catch it. Not even a 19-yard run from running back Ben Tate, who finished with 10 carries for 51 yards (5.1 average), could save the Browns from punting.
“It just kind of spiraled out of control,” Hoyer said. “We were never really able to get things going. So it’s unfortunate, especially with the situation that we’re in.”
The Browns caught a break during the ensuing possession when running back Alfred Morris fumbled and inside linebacker Craig Robertson recovered at Washington’s 48. The Browns, though, went three-and-out when Hoyer’s third-down pass to slot receiver Andrew Hawkins was thrown low.
Browns Pro Bowl cornerback Joe Haden intercepted a pass from quarterback Robert Griffin III during the next series and returned 37 yards to Washington’s 46. But the Browns went three-and-out again. On third down, Kerrigan sacked Manziel. Linebacker Brian Orakpo flashed Manziel’s signature money sign after the play, and it wasn’t the first time he flaunted it.
The Browns completed a goal-line stand early in the fourth quarter. Robertson tackled Morris short of the end zone, which a replay review confirmed, on fourth-and-goal from the 1. The offense marched to Washington’s 39, but Manziel’s third-down pass to All-Pro wide receiver Josh Gordon was off target and fell incomplete.
Browns free safety Tashaun Gipson picked off a pass from backup quarterback Kirk Cousins and returned it 43 yards to Washington’s 15. The Browns settled for Billy Cundiff’s 29-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 4:58 left in the second quarter after Hoyer threw an off-target pass that went off Hawkins’ hands in the end zone.
“I’ve got to make better throws,” Hoyer said. “I’ve got to put it right on Hawk in the end zone. That should’ve been touchdown. There’s no excuse for that.”
Washington’s offense struck late in the first half. Running back Evan Royster barreled through Robertson and scored a 2-yard touchdown with 23 seconds remaining in the second quarter. Washington tacked on another touchdown and took a 14-3 lead with 10:39 left in the third quarter when Cousins completed a 14-yard touchdown pass to Grant, who beat the coverage of Adams.

Nate Ulrich can be reached at Read the Browns blog at Follow him on Twitter at and on Facebook
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OK call me crazy or whatever you want but here is what I saw in last nights game. Hoyer needs to be the starter no doubt about it. And they need to groom the rookie for the next year or two until he is ready. At that time, Connor Shaw should be more than ready to take the starting position and succeed in the NFL. Yes I know he played against third stringers. However, the way he played is what impressed me. His poise in the pocket was outstanding. His decision making was right on. His passing was precise and accurate. This kid has talent and deserves a real chance of being the starter in a year or so. The Browns have a gem in the making and it isnt one finger johnny, it is Shaw!!!

eat my shorts's picture
eat my shorts

I agree, Hoyer should be number one while they groom Manziel, just like they did with Bernie Kosar. Be careful about how much stock you put into Connor Shaw. Besides playing against the third stringers, he doesn't have near the amount of pressure on him that Hoyer and Manziel do. You don't see the media hounding him like the other two. Take Manziel for example. The media is making such a fuss about him flipping off the Redskins, but I couldn't be more proud. Cleveland fans have waited a long time for something to get them riled up. So it's probably much easier for Connor Shaw to be playing most of his time in the shadows.


Conner Shaw

swiss family

it seems to me that Cleveland is up to their old tricks.. they are focusing on just their quarterback positions... they can have the best quarterback in all of the leagues, but without any good recievers it doesn't mean crap... where is Josh Cribs???if we had someone of his talent to catch and return or to carry the ball we might have something.. But this is usual Cleveland thinking.. lets get 1 good player and expect him to win every game.. they did it with LeBron.. and he was forgiving enough to come back (thank God) we should have learned from that, obviously we didn't...

Dr. Information

Lol. Goes to show how much you do not know about football. Josh Cribbs? Dude had like one good year and that was as a returner. He sucked as a WR.

On topic, Hoyer needs to start bottom line. JM may never see the field as a starter and by his antics on field I'm sure the impressed crowd might of became a bit unimpressed with him last night.

swiss family

goes to show how much you don't know... he Josh Cribbs played any position they needed him to be in.. he was an outstanding returner.... and an outstanding receiver, and a surprisingly great quarterback when they needed him to play that position, , and any other position they needed him to play.... maybe it is you who does nor remember what he can do.. because he had more than one great year, but just like Always, Cleveland lets their great players go, because at that time he was their only great player, and now they get Manzel, but not much to back him up... kind of like L.James..and no one to back him up... except Shaq, 10 years past his prime...I am not sure if you understand sports at!!!


What is in the pipe you are smoking ?

eat my shorts's picture
eat my shorts

That's an excellent question which many of us have been asking for a long time. Personally, I'm rooting for crack because I'd hate to think that being such a Swister comes naturally.

swiss family

You know Mr Shorts... your use of the word "Tards" is very offensive. you can make fun of me if you wish, it really does not matter o me one bit , mostly because you mean nothing to me in any way, so nothing you say nor not one of your opinions matters to me in any way , shape or form. I will even go so far to say that my dogs Crap is of more concern to me that anything that comes out of your mouth or typed from your fingertips...

With that being said I have to say that the term "tard" is a very offensive a derogatory word.. it is a word that is thrown out there that is always used to hurt and to demean someone and to put them down.. just like the "N " word does for African Americans, and the " F " word does for Gay and Lesbian Americans, or the " C " word is for the Asians, or the "W B" term is for the Mexican Americans.. and so on... It is 2014 after all, and even though this is small town Norwalk in back woods Ohio and we seem to have a spineless and gutless Editor who runs the local paper who is too weak to take a stand on his own, and determine that those words are offensive, and will not be tolerated in the paper as long as he is in charge, but will stand all proud with his chest all puffed out with pride, like he is a part of the solution if he blocks out the "N" word that someone tries to slip through... you know what Joe, you are a joke.. go ask Frank if he thinks the "tard" word is offensive???that will hit a little too close to home and maybe then you will understand what I am talking about... People are people... not categories...or they shouldn't be about you grow a pair Joe..and get your Moderator to do the same..

Far be it from me to tell you, especially someone so great and wonderful as you with all the knowledge you have in your field..but I might have a smidgen of respect if you do decide to not allow the "tard" word to be used in your paper anywhere... I would have some respect if you said it was because YOU found it offensive ...NOT because it offended ME..of course that would mean that you would have to grow a pair and have a spine and show some guts.. and I personally do not think you have any of the qualifications that you would need...


Did you fall off the soap box yet ? Yikes !

swiss family

feck off... there Joe take that off... but not tard you spineless as$hole

eat my shorts's picture
eat my shorts

I changed it just for you, so stop flatulating your liquids. What exactly do you find offensive since tard simply means to proceed along at a slow pace?

swiss family

Mr Shorts... you obviously AGAIN missed my point... Please DO NOT take that word out of you offensive posts, because I find them offensive... I really do not matter in what goes into the paper or is on the newspaper blog, like people like Joe or Cliff or people like that, so as long as it is OK for you you get the approval from them and the somewhat worthless Moderator, the please feel free to be as crude and biased and as insulting and as backward and call any woman you don't like the "C" word, and any,Vietnamese the "G' 'word, and , well I don't have to go on.. because I really have to have a hard time trying to think of the offensive terms that are out there to use to hurt people, where you, on the other hand seem to use those terms on a daily if not hourly basis..

So, I do not know what happened and why you had a change of heart, especially, like you say it is not an offensive term, so why did you change it???I am sure you did not change it because I objected to it, because that was part of the bonus to use the word, you know that it offends me as a human being and a fellow occupant of this world with every other person of all types of people, even the spineless, ball less, gutless people like Joe and Cliff and you, so to use that word and to know t offends me would be a bonus, so can not see that you would have a change of heart, (NOT like you had one or anything) so I have to believe that Joe said something... which again just shows how weak and pathetic and how terrible he is at his job.. how about making a statement on here Joe.. how about saying that the use of that word would not be tolerated in "your" newspaper.. because YOU find it offensive, but again like I said before you would have to have a spine, and some balls, and some guts, and you don't have any of, a hint of any of those.. so it is not surprising that you sneak around and stop a problem as quietly as possible... STAND up and be an EDITOR and make some rules and STATE the rules and say what will be tolerated and what will not... and shame on you, one of your workers is closely connected to that word and would be highly disappointed and feel betrayed that when you had the chance to stop the use of this word being thrown around as a put down on other people, you as a friend and as a boss did not defend them or the dignity of their child.... good luck looking at your reflection in your mirror Joe...

eat my shorts's picture
eat my shorts

Swiss- Go ahead and think whatever you want. You couldn't even begin to guess why I made the change. I will say this though, maybe you should start paying more attention to how much you insult others in these blogs. You are by no means an innocent victim. Don't go dishing out what you can't take.

Estrella Damm

At no point in time during his tenure in the NFL was Josh Cribbs an adequate let alone an outstanding receiver.

Dr. Information

@swiss fantasy. Nowhere in Cribbs career was he every an outstanding receiver, great qb, but he did have one outstanding returning year and then was avg. the following years to come. Cribbs has had 7 receiving TD's in 9 years in the NFL. He has had a total of 1,167 yards in 9 years as well. Just for comparison, Calvin Johnson who has been in the league only 7 years, and is a GREAT WR, has had over 9,000 receiving yards and 66 receiving TDs.

You then move on to say they let their great players go, well Cribbs was an avg player, that is why they let him go. Facts are facts. Then you go on to say we got this great player in JM. How do you know he is great, he's been below avg in two NFL preseason games. Not much to back him up? Only one of the best WR's in the league in Josh Gordon, the 2nd best TE Cameron and a pretty solid O line and a top notched D.

Swiss, go back to arguing about trash pickup or cats in your yard or whatever it is you cry about on here daily. Let the big boys stick to football.


I saw a game where the best looking QB was Connor Shaw. Won't hear his name much after preseason I don't believe but that's how much chaos is in that locker room. Dude was out there fighting for the game, Hoyer & JM we're fighting for the position.


It won't matter. They will ruin whomever. I
started in 1957 and saw every yard run in the old stadium by Jim Brown during games. I have watched a lot of great football with The Browns. There is something about the culture in Cleveland that they can't quite get it together !

shovelhead's picture

I know your right. If I was Johnny football, I would be running away from Cleveland as fast as I could. We have ruined 25 QB's since I've been out of school.

eat my shorts's picture
eat my shorts

Bring back Weeden! At least then we'd know we're guaranteed to suck instead of getting our hopes up, only to have them crushed in the end as usual.


What is painfully obvious after last night is that neither Brian Hoyer nor Digitally enhanced Johnny One Finger fits the Shanahan offense. The Browns must find a way to keep Shaw who obviously fits the system.

Cliff Cannon

Sarrak: Do you have an egg scraper ? Because right now, I sure need one to get the egg off my face. Still hoping Johnny is ultimately the real deal. Question is how long must we wait to find out ?


Cliff - Nearly 75% of first round QB's bust before playing in 64 games. More than half of the remainder fail to become franchise QB's and have careers like Jason Campbell (25th pick 2005) and Rex Grossman(pick 22 2003). Many years they are all busts (2002, 2007)and when franchise QBs are drafted in the first round there is usually only one (2004 being the exception when there were 3). Johnny needs more time to mature and become a pro. I hope he doesn't start before 2016 when he may have a chance to become a franchise QB. The Browns are not going anyplace for the next two seasons anyway and perhaps they will solve the RT problem by then

Cliff Cannon

Sarrak : 75 % Wow ! I had no real idea just how many went belly up from the 1st. round. Of course,with hoping for Johnny to start right away. One just knew it was either a pipe dream or he was competing with Brian Hoyer for the job. Because obviously, if he was THAT good , he would not have fallen so far in the draft.

Still, it is hard not to hope Johnny doesn't come on to play this season. Agreeing with you that the Browns are going now where. The rather popular thought is Manziel starting coming off the bye week. So we will see. ( With the line issues. Maybe neither of them want to get pulverized )

Either way.Thanks for all the helpful information and I certainly look forward to debating Johnny with you for about another 15 seasons. ( if we are lucky.)


Maybe Johnny can start for the Buckeyes now that Miller is hurt.