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It will be Hoyer
August 20, 2014 - Mike McLain
With fingers firmly crossed, Browns coach Mike Pettine named Brian Hoyer the starting quarterback for the season opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The decision was announced Wednesday morning. It came about 16 hours after Pettine said he might wait until after Saturday’s preseason game against the St. Louis Rams to make the call.
Hoyer’s competition with rookie Johnny Manziel was close, which in this case wasn’t a good thing. It was close because neither of the two performed up to expectations.
In the end, Hoyer was the choice because of his experience (five previous years in the NFL).
“He was the clear leader from the beginning,” Pettine said in a released statement. “We’ve maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room.”
Manziel undoubtedly hurt his cause in two ways – his inconsistent play on the field and actions not related to actually playing the game. Several times during breaks in offseason practices, Manziel was photographed at parties. Manziel contends that he was still taking time to learn the playbook, but it was obvious from his struggles early in camp that he was far behind in the learning process.
Manziel’s actions during last Monday’s preseason game in Washington might have sealed his fate. During a moment of frustration after being taunted by some of the Redskins, Manziel extended his right middle finger towards the Washington bench.
An ESPN camera picked up the moment. Considering Manziel’s celebrity status, it wasn’t surprising to see the act become topic number one on sports talk shows across the country.
Pettine was angered by Manziel’s action and hinted during a teleconference call Tuesday that it might play a part in his decision process.
As for Manziel’s development on the field, there were positive signs after a terrible first week of practices. There was really no clear difference in the performances of the two the last couple of weeks.
“He’s certainly made great strides,” Pettine said of Manziel. “We’re pleased with where he is, and he has shown that he has come a long way in his ability to pick up the playbook, be coachable and lead an offense. We are confident that Johnny is going to have a great future, but we just felt that Brian still had a decided edge on him.”
After his comments on Tuesday, Pettine ultimately decided the wise choice was to name a starter prior to the game against the Rams.
“I think it’s especially good, as an offensive unit, to go out and play and gain cohesion and chemistry,” Pettine said. “That was one of the reasons I wanted to go ahead and make the decision before this third preseason game so that (Hoyer and the rest of the starting offense) could play as a unit for a good chunk of it.”
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