Brian Hoyer has been named the Cleveland Browns’ starting quarterback, coach Mike Pettine announced this morning.
Hoyer, who started in both of the Browns’ preseason games, won the competition against rookie Johnny Manziel.
Ultimately, Hoyer’s biggest advantages are that he has played in the NFL for five years and the leadership qualities he has displayed.
“He was the clear leader from the beginning,” Pettine said. “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.”
Despite Hoyer completing only two of six passes for 16 yards in Monday night’s loss against the Washington Redskins, Pettine said that he took much more into account than one performance or what was done in either preseason game. He said he considered Hoyer’s “body of work,” which includes leading the Browns to victories in the two full games he played as a starter last season and the way he has prepared himself throughout the spring and in training camp.
“I think Brian’s been very poised,” Pettine said. “I think he’s handled the situation well. He’s had a lot of things going on.”
The most significant is the way Hoyer has battled back from the torn anterior cruciate ligament he suffered in his right knee during the Browns’ Oct. 3 victory against the Buffalo Bills.
“I think a lot of people discount that,” the coach said. “Here’s a guy coming off of a season-ending knee injury. Really, these are his first, essentially, 20-25 plays of live work back from it, and he’s only going to get better.”
The coach said it was important to name the starter this week, leading up to Saturday’s preseason game against St. Louis at FirstEnergy Stadium, to maximize the amount of time Hoyer and the rest of the offense have to prepare for the Sept. 7 regular-season opener at Pittsburgh.
“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.”
After reaching a decision with offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains last night, Coach Pettine informed the players this morning.
The decision to start Hoyer does not, in the coach’s view, reflect poorly on Manziel.
“He’s certainly made great strides,” Pettine said. “We are 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.”