“(Hoyer) was the clear leader from the beginning,” coach Mike Pettine said in a press release, via Around the League. “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.”
The knee-jerk reaction is that this is a no-win situation for Hoyer. Unless Hoyer plays consistently well (a difficult task for anyone at the NFL level), Manziel is going to get a shot at some point this season. Hoyer knows his margin for error will be incredibly tight, which could add pressure and affect his performance.
Why did Mike Pettine decide to name a starter before the third game of the preseason? For starters, there have been rumors that the Browns do not want Manziel’s first NFL start to come against a potentially tough defense like the Steelers on the road. Boomer Esiason believes Manziel would get his “ass kicked” in Pittsburgh and the Browns might agree.
Beyond the difficulty of the matchup, you have to wonder if Manziel’s infamous middle finger had anything to do with Pettine’s decision. In addition to not looking that sharp on Monday night (6-of-17 passing), Manziel made a lapse in judgment that not only made him look bad but also may have indicated he is letting opponents get under his skin.
We’d be stunned if Hoyer starts even half of Cleveland’s games this season.