After a strong start to the NFL season, Brian Hoyer has cooled off considerably in recent weeks. He threw eight touchdowns to only two interceptions in the first seven games of the season, as the team stayed in contention in the AFC North.
Since then, he has thrown only three touchdowns to eight interceptions. The Browns are still in the hunt in the AFC, but after playing horribly in a loss to the Bills earlier today, Hoyer was benched by head coach Mike Pettine. First-round pick Johnny Manziel promptly took over, completing five of his eight passes and adding a rushing touchdown.
Now that Manziel has seen the field as the leader of the huddle, it may be difficult to put him back on the sidelines. Hoyer’s play has not done much to convince the organization otherwise in recent weeks. Still, Pettine will wait until Wednesday to announce the starter heading into next week’s game against the Colts, reports Adam Schefter of ESPN (via Twitter).
The moment wasn’t too big for Manziel, according to Albert Breer of NFL.com. His poise in the moment makes him the frontrunner for the starting job the rest of the season. “It’s a football decision,” said Pettine. “Nothing else will factor into it, just pure football.”
Peter King of Sports Illustrated agrees that it is time for Manziel (via Twitter). With only four games left and the playoffs on the line, the team needs a spark if it plans on grabbing either the division title or a wild card berth.
Manziel is prepared for the opportunity to get his first NFL start, writes Jeff Schudel of the Morning Journal. “That’s obviously up to Coach Pettine and some higher people than me in this organization,” Manziel said. “But if that’s the case and my name is called, I’ll definitely be ready.”
Hoyer was obviously unhappy with the prospect of losing his job midway through the season, according to Schudel. “Obviously you never want to see someone else doing your job, but it’s the coach’s decision,” Hoyer said. “I mean this is my team and I’ve always felt that way. We’ll see what happens.”
Despite the recent rough times, Hoyer still supports the Browns’ playoff chances for the stretch run. “I just keep pressing on,” Hoyer continued. “I’m not the one that makes the decision. I’m not going to just hang my head and feel sorry for myself. We have four games left, and whatever Coach decides to do, I’ll be here to support this team.”