Rearview Mirror: It’s All About The Quarterback

Cleveland Browns v Buffalo BillsIn Cleveland, it’s all about the quarterback.

There is one thing that I have hated about the Browns since they’ve returned – besides the losing – is the constant controversies. Quarterbacks and coaches and general managers. Quarterbacks have been the worst. It feels like they’ve had one every season since 2005. (Because they have) And here we are again.

Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel?

I’ll start with Hoyer: It was his job to lose and he lost it. He’s never been great, but he was managing his performances and the team was winning. But the last three games…

I have stood up for Hoyer remaining the starter, not because I liked Hoyer. I was ready to let him leave when the season ended, but because the team was winning and he was playing pretty well, I felt like you couldn’t bench him. I said you wouldn’t be able to sell it to the players.

Sure enough, on Monday night on ESPN, the two former players – Tom Jackson and Keyshawn Johnson – said that they would let Hoyer finish the season. And if anyone has been beating the drum for Manziel to start, it’s been ESPN. I’m not saying they’re right; I’m just pointing out the illustration of what I’ve said about how players look at it versus fans and the media.

But last week, in that Atlanta game, when Hoyer threw his third interception, I was ready to pull him. He just looked terrible. Then he led the team down the field and they won. I just didn’t think you could pull him after that. Why? See the paragraph above.

But yesterday he made it impossible to defend him. He’s been worse than terrible. The team is lucky to not have gone 0-3 over the last three. I feel like I’m watching a starting pitcher who can’t locate his fastball. (Sorry for the cross-sports reference)

Now, Manziel. Let me start by saying that I will never ever ever refer to him as “Johnny”, “Johnny Football”, or “JFF”. Ever. Ever.

I have said that Manziel should stay on the bench unless Hoyer collapses or the season is lost. Well, Hoyer has collapsed and the season is close to being lost.

In my opinion, it’s probably time to start Manziel. And that’s a lot of people’s opinions and there’s no reason for me to go into it further than that. The argument for it has been on your TV screens for at least three weeks now. I will add the caveat that people don’t get to see Manziel in practice, and maybe he looks terrible. But short of that, I think you have to start him.

Let’s move on.

I feel that the season is probably lost with this switch. It’s the NFL and we’ve seen crazier things, but I feel like there is going to be a learning curve, and the Browns need to win at least 3 of the last 4, maybe all 4. Can they win games against Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and Baltimore while a guy learns the pro game at game-time speed? Probably not.

Cleveland Browns v Buffalo BillsBut I feel like Hoyer painted the coaching staff into this corner and so it is what it is. I feel like, rather than watching them make a push for the playoffs, that I am watching preparation for next year. And I hate waiting until next year. I hate talking about the draft while the games are still being played. I’m sick for watching games for no reason but to write these articles.

If I wanted to be a crazy optimist, I’d say that bringing in a guy that teams have no real tape on may give us an advantage. But that is just fan talk. I still expect defenses to play the same way they’ve been playing lately: Load the box and force the quarterback to beat them. They may have to mix in a spy to get after Manziel if he decides to run.

So the question becomes, Can Manziel beat them? Honestly, no one knows. But it’s time to find out.

One final comment on this: We all scream how the players need to play for the name on the front of the jersey instead of the name on the back. And then we sit here and pull for a guy to do bad and cost the name on the front of the jersey so that we can either see “our” guy play, or because we want to be right in a watercooler argument.

Cleveland Browns v Buffalo BillsOr maybe we don’t like a guy, right? He acts like an arrogant jerk, hangs out with horrible people, he has a stupid little hand gesture. Maybe he can’t make it through a month without an off the field incident. Like punching someone in the face for wanting to hug him. I don’t know, I’m making stuff up here.

Anyway, no matter what, if the guy is playing for the Browns, I’m pulling for him. I’m not interested in the team winning any off the field games; I want on the field wins. To cross sports again, I didn’t like former Cleveland Indians closer Chris Perez, but as long as he was shutting down opposing teams, he was my guy. When he wasn’t, then I was happy to ship him and his pot-smoking dog out of town.

So if Sunday sees Brian Hoyer at quarterback, I want to see him resurrected. If it’s Johnny Manziel, I want to see him amaze the masses.

In the end, it’s all about the W’s, it’s all about the Cleveland Browns.


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