As much fun as the media had covering the Cleveland Browns quarterback competition between Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel, it sure looked like the team itself hated it.
Sure, no players came out and said they couldn’t stand the constant back-and-forth which came with the starting offense having a different QB every day at practice. At the same time, if you’ve watched any of the Browns’ preseason games so far, you can tell there was likely a lot of relief when coach Mike Pettine chose Hoyer as his starter.
In both preseason games, the offense as a whole looked very disjointed. Timing was off, rookie mistakes were made by longtime vets and it was pretty clear the entire unit struggled to perform when the focal piece of the puzzle was swapped out every two series. As a result, Cleveland’s first-team offense has nothing but a handful of field goals to their name.
Now, they head into tomorrow’s dress rehearsal game against the St. Louis Rams knowing Hoyer will be running the show for at least the entire first half. With this in mind, can the starters finally get in sync and remotely look like an NFL offense?
There’s certainly reason to hope this will be the case. Most importantly, it finally gives the entire offense some much-needed stability. With Hoyer being more of a pocket passer and Manziel a quarterback who depends on his mobility, the offense was dealing with two completely different players running the show. Though the coaching staff obviously had to get a look at both QBs, the stark differences between the two made it difficult for the offensive unit to get into a rhythm.
On top of this, it certainly appeared as though the competition was having a negative effect on the quarterbacks themselves. Manziel showed plenty of inexperience, while Hoyer looked a little too jumpy, nervous that any bad play he made would result in his losing a grip on the starting job he so desperately wanted. He knew how badly the national media wanted the flashy rookie to start for the Browns, and for obvious reasons, it affected his game.
However, with the job officially given to Hoyer, there’s no longer a question mark at the offense’s most important position. The unit as a whole can now game-plan knowing there isn’t a constantly revolving door at quarterback.
Say what you will about Hoyer’s struggles this preseason, but it’s incredibly difficult to grasp a new offensive scheme if you’re only playing every other series. You can’t develop chemistry and timing with your receivers if you only get one or two opportunities per game. And, when the quarterback can’t get a grip on the game, the offense as a whole will struggle mightily. With a full half of football in the preseason’s most important game this Saturday, the Browns first-team will finally have plenty of time to start gelling.
Everyone on the offense is attempting to learn a new system. This alone is a difficult task for all involved. Trying to do so while you’re dealing with two different quarterbacks with two different playing styles? That’s not going to make things any easier.
With Hoyer at the helm, here’s hoping the offense can finally get going now that they have some semblance of stability at all positions.