Hoyer was 30-of-54 for 321 yards and three touchdowns. He led a game-winning, 55-yard touchdown drive with just 3:21 left on the game clock. He was good enough to get the Cleveland Browns and head coach Rob Chudzinski their first victory of the year.
While he played well, he was not perfect. After guiding the Browns to a 24-17 halftime lead, he threw three interceptions in the second half and looked confused.
So was it enough to replace Brandon Weeden as the permanent starter?
For this front office, it was plenty enough. The Browns will likely hold off on naming a starter until Wednesday, but it would be a shock if Hoyer isn’t the guy.
It is no secret that Browns’ general manager Michael Lombardi is a Hoyer supporter. While working for NFL Network, he spoke glowingly of Hoyer on multiple occasions. In February 2011, he said, “...Hoyer demonstrates the skills needed to be a starter.” He also criticized Weeden many times, including when the Browns selected him 22nd overall in the 2012 draft.
Despite the fact that Weeden did not have wide receiver Josh Gordon for his two starts and the playbook seemed to be more creative against the Vikings, his time as the Browns starter has most likely come to an end.
Browns’ brass never gave Weeden a compliment, let alone a vote of confidence. He was saddled with an uphill battle from the start of training camp. He needed to impress a front office that didn’t want or believe in him.
Hoyer, on the other hand, stepped in and sparked a stagnant offense. The same offense that scored just 16 points through the first two games had 24 points at halftime against the Vikings. Hoyer showed poise, made plays outside of the pocket and took advantage of defensive mistakes downfield.
Hoyer made big-time throws on a game-winning drive. That’s exactly what Lombardi saw in him and exactly what he didn’t see in Weeden.
The team doesn’t seem to have thrown in the towel on the 2013 season, despite trading running back Trent Richardson. They opened up the offensive playbook for Hoyer and even faked a punt and a field goal. They did anything to give the offense a jolt of energy.
For one week, football was fun again in Cleveland, and that was all the front office needed.
It doesn’t matter that they will most likely select a QB high in the 2014 draft. It doesn’t even matter that Hoyer has physical limitations that will prevent Turner from executing some of his down field passing schemes.
All that matters is that Hoyer was a gamer and got the team a victory. That was just enough reason to make a permanent change at QB.
That was probably the end of the line for Brandon Weeden as a starter in Cleveland.