When the book closed on the 2013 NFL regular season for the...
Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer Will Likely be Starter Until Detroit Lions Game
The Cleveland Browns shocked a lot of people around the NFL by starting third-string quarterback Brian Hoyer in place of injured starter Brandon Weeden last week against the Minnesota Vikings. Hoyer did not disappoint, throwing for 321 yards and three touchdowns in the game and was able to overcome three interceptions to drive the team down for the go-ahead score with under a minute left in the game.
While Hoyer certainly outperformed Weeden’s first two starts of the season against an inferior Minnesota defense, head coach Rob Chudzinski waited until Wednesday of this week to announce Hoyer as the team’s starting quarterback against Cincinnati. With Weeden still nursing his injured thumb and unable to grip the football, Hoyer will get the opportunity to lead the Browns to his second win in consecutive weeks.
Regardless of the outcome of the game against the Bengals, Browns fans should get used to Hoyer as the starting quarterback of the Browns—at least until the week of the Detroit Lions game on Sunday October 13th. With a Thursday night home game against the Buffalo Bills coming up next week, there is likely very little chance Weeden will have enough time to get the practice necessary to anoint him the starter on a short week against the Bills.
With Hoyer and the offense clicking against Minnesota and Weeden coming back from an injury that greatly affects the way he throws the football, the team should just go ahead and give him the time necessary to properly heal. We all know Weeden will want to rush back to reclaim his starting position and attempt to prove he is the quarterback of the future, but in terms of preparation time it just does not make sense.
This will also give the Browns a three-game window (Minnesota, Cincinnati and Buffalo) to determine if Hoyer is the guy they want to lead their team for the rest of the season, or if they need to see more from Weeden. If they decide to go back to the former first-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, there should be no injury excuses with the next two weeks to prepare for the Lions and be cleared by the doctors.
Before injuring his throwing hand, Weeden failed to impress anyone in the team’s first two games. He completed just 54.7 percent of his passes for 516 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions. Weeden’s rating of 62 is second to last, with only the recently benched Josh Freeman in Tampa Bay being worse at 59.3.
While Hoyer’s completion percentage of 55.6 and rating of 68.5 aren’t that much better, the hometown kid did something Weeden hasn’t done since December 9th of 2012—lead the Browns to a victory. In a town that is starved for a winner, winning football games is all that matters and that is why the fan base is starting to rally around Hoyer to take over for Weeden on a full-time basis.
Hoyer did have a major advantage that Weeden was without the first two games, as No. 1 wide receiver Josh Gordon made his return, in a big way, from a two-game suspension. Gordon hauled in 10 receptions for 146 yards and one touchdown, while opening up major passing lanes for the rest of the receiving corps. The 6’3” and 225-pound receiving threat was a major factor in the offense, leaving many to wonder how Weeden would have performed the first two games with him on the field.
Unfortunately the NFL is not a fair world, and while many hate to see a guy lose his starting job due to an injury, that is exactly what could happen to Weeden—effectively ending his time with the Browns in the process. If Hoyer goes out and plays well against the Bengals and Bills and wins one or both of those games, there is likely no way the Browns can go back to Weeden with Hoyer on a three-game winning streak.
For better or worse, the Hoyer era is here to stay in Cleveland. Whether it is for two weeks or the rest of the season, Cleveland fans have gotten what they wanted—the hometown kid with the opportunity of his lifetime. Now let’s see what the kid can do against a real defense of the Bengals.
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