New Cleveland Browns QB Brian Hoyer Returns Home Hoping For First Real Shot in the League
By Sam Ingro
Many fans will remember quarterback Brian Hoyer from his time spent under center for St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, and others will remember him from his time spent at Michigan State University facing off against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Very few will remember him for much of anything in the NFL, but at the age of 27, he’s finally trying to make his mark in a homecoming with the Cleveland Browns.
While Cleveland has had home-state quarterbacks before; such as Bernie Kosar from Youngstown and Brady Quinn from Columbus, they have never had one start at the position that grew up a mere 10 miles from the stadium.
The Lakewood native ended up entering the NFL on an undrafted free agent contract with the New England Patriots. Proving himself to Coach Bill Belichick and winning the sole backup job behind Tom Brady in 2009, he saw only one drive on regular NFL season action. On October 18, in the second half of a 59-0 blowout of the Tennessee Titans, Hoyer went 9-for-11 for 52 yards and capped a drive by handing off for a touchdown to close the game.
In 2010, he saw action in just two games. He had two passing attempts in a loss to Cleveland, 34-14, and he closed the season out in Miami with a 38-7 win. Against the Dolphins, Hoyer went 7-for-13 for 122 yards and a touchdown, ending with a 111.7 quarterback rating.
The next year, the Patriots drafted Ryan Mallett, but Hoyer kept the backup position over him. In the preseason, Hoyer retained his role as Brady’s primary backup. In the preseason, he went 25-for-42 with one touchdown, no interceptions and 296 yards. Hoyer only saw one pass in the regular season–a pass to give Rob Gronkowski the NFL record for receiving yards by a tight end.
He did not see another year with New England, being released at the end of training camp. Hoyer sat out the 2012 season until the Pittsburgh Steelers signed him on November 20th in an emergency role after injuries claimed Ben Roethlisberger and Byron Leftwich. He never played a snap for Pittsburgh, dressing as the primary backup in Weeks 12 and 13 against Cleveland and Baltimore before being released when they became healthy just 19 days later.
He wasn’t on the waiver wire long, however, being claimed just two days later by the quarterback-desperate Arizona Cardinals. Thrust into the action with minimal playbook knowledge in relief of Ryan Lindley in Week 16, Hoyer hit on 11-of-19 passes for 105 yards and a pick. He was named the starter for Week 17 against San Francisco and had a career high in passing attempts, completing 19-of-34 passes for 225 yards.
Fast forward to today, and the Browns bring Hoyer back to his hometown for a quarterback competition with incumbent Brandon Weeden and backup Jason Campbell. Browns general manager Michael Lombardi was not high on Weeden during the 2012 NFL Draft and has stated that the competition is an open one, as all positions on the team are being evaluated.
At the end of the 2011 season on the NFL Network, Lombardi stated, ”I think Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallett are starters. I’ve said this many times: If I would have taken the GM job of the 49ers, I would have gone after Brian Hoyer, because I think he has all the traits and characteristics. If I were the Cleveland Browns, I’d rather have Brian Hoyer behind center than Colt McCoy. I think he’s got all the traits you need, in terms of leadership, toughness, the arm strength, the ability to move the team.”
There is no telling if Lombardi feels the same as he did two years ago, but he signed him for a reason.
Does that mean anyone is expecting Hoyer to start on opening day? Absolutely not, but you can’t rule it out just yet either. He is two years younger than Weeden and four years younger than Campbell, without ever having stability and a real chance to play, it’s hard to know what the Browns have on their roster in Hoyer.
One thing is for sure though, we are about to find out because the competition is just starting to heat up with 115 days until kickoff. Hang on to your hats, Browns fans.
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