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And the winner is ...

... Hoyer. Browns name veteran starting quarterback over Manziel

August 21, 2014
By MIKE McLAIN - Tribune Chronicle , Tribune Chronicle

CLEVELAND - Brian Hoyer's time has arrived.

"Good for Brian," Johnny Manziel said. "He's a hometown guy and a guy that's been around this area for a long time. I know me being from Texas, if a Texas job were like that it would mean the world to me. Props to him."

You really can't get a good read for how the central figures in the NFL's most-hyped quarterback competition feel about each other after the decision was announced Hoyer would be the Browns starter. Manziel and Hoyer have polar opposite personalities and off-the-field lifestyles that aren't compatible. Manziel admitted he didn't have much conversation with Hoyer about the battle.

What can be discerned from their comments is that Manziel feels he would have won the job if he had simply played better. In other words, he feels that Hoyer didn't win the competition - he lost it.

"I feel if I would have come out and played better, it would have been a different outcome," Manziel said. "I don't think I played terrible, but I didn't do anything to really jump off the page."

That sums up a competition that was heavy on media hype and light on substance. Without Manziel's name on it, the battle would have made rare appearances on ESPN or the NFL Network. With his name, both of the aforementioned networks gave reporters permission to call this area home for the last month.

Hoyer, the hometown kid from North Olmsted and a star quarterback at St. Ignatius High School, would be the first to admit that his performances in two preseason games weren't good (8-of-20 for 108 yards). He looked beyond that Wednesday after being informed of the news by coach Mike Pettine and warmly embraced the opportunity of a lifetime.

"Like I said all along, it's been my mentality this whole offseason and training camp to act like a starter and be the starter," Hoyer said. "Now that it's official, we can move on."

Pettine told each of the players in separate meetings. He said Manziel acted "as expected." Given Manziel's unique personality, the expected could mean anything from kicking a desk to extending a middle finger, which he did so prominently during last Monday's ESPN-televised game against the Washington Redskins.

"He's a competitor," Pettine said. "He wants to be out there, but he knows there are some things he needs to work on. It's his job to press on and work every week as he's the starter."

Manziel termed his reaction more disappointment than anger. He vowed to learn from the sideline and be prepared to replace Hoyer if the need arises.

Manziel reiterated his comments of last week when he said he's not ready to face the Pittsburgh Steelers in the season opener.

"I know you don't go from playing two years in college and playing two preseason games and saying you can come out and play the Pittsburgh Steelers and their defense," Manziel said. "It just doesn't happen that way. I don't think that should have been much of a shock saying I wasn't necessarily ready."

The on-the-field spotlight will now shine solely on Hoyer. He claims he hasn't felt the pressure of the competition, but missed throws in practices and both preseason games indicate otherwise. In all fairness, Hoyer is working with a sub-par receiving corps that has made a habit of dropping passes and running poor routes.

"I don't think I haven't been relaxed," Hoyer said. "The other night we had a bad first series, and people want to pin that on pressure. The offense collectively has to do better than that.

"I don't think it ever got to me. This is actually the most relaxed I've been at a training camp in my career because I was in a spot to be a starter, and that had never been given to me before."



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