Why Brian Hoyer Is in No-Win Situation with Cleveland Browns

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Why Brian Hoyer Is in No-Win Situation with Cleveland Browns
Mark Duncan/Associated Press

Brian Hoyer's story should be a great one in Cleveland Browns lore. Born in Lakewood, Ohio, Hoyer attended St. Ignatius High School in Cleveland, and he learned the quarterback position behind Tom Brady with the Patriots for several years. Surely someone with that kind of story would be someone the media would take notice of.

Of course, life does not always turn out how you might expect. Hoyer went undrafted after a productive college career at Michigan State, and after showing promise in two full games last season, he tore his ACL and missed the rest of the season.

The void at quarterback led to the Browns drafting Johnny Manziel, and rather than looking like the local boy who could get his big break and lead the local team to greatness, Hoyer already seems to have one foot out the door.

It's through no fault of Hoyer's, but entering the 2014 season, there is no perfect option for Hoyer. Whether he starts or sits, performs well or performs poorly, it's just going to end up causing problems for the Browns, as well as the fans.

How so? For starters, any time there's a new regime change, it's natural that the new group will want a new quarterback to work with, presuming of course that Ray Farmer, Mike Pettine and the rest of this staff actually stick around in their roles for more than a season or two.

With the selection of Manziel, that makes him the heir apparent with Hoyer simply being someone who Manziel has to beat out or wait behind at best.

If Manziel ends up beating Hoyer out and starting on day one, then that's the end of the road. The Browns can't just take Manziel out after a bad game or two and throw Hoyer back in, as "Johnny Football" is going to have to work through any issues he might have by simply learning through them in games.

Let's say that Hoyer is the starting quarterback for Week 1, and given that Hoyer is "securely ahead" according to Pettine, that appears to be the case. Even though Hoyer is technically the team veteran, he does not have much of a track record.

In two full games last season, he had a very good outing against the Cincinnati Bengals, but his narrow win against the Minnesota Vikings seems glossed over. He threw three interceptions, completed just over half his passes (30 of 54) and it was against a team that was hardly any better than the Browns last year.

As a result, even though Hoyer looked far better than Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell last year, a poor season is not out of the question. The Browns could enter the bye week 0-3 after facing the Steelers, Saints and Ravens.

The schedule gets easier for the Browns later on in the year, but by that time Hoyer could be back on the bench. It doesn't help that he will likely be without Josh Gordon, whose 146 receiving yards were instrumental in the Minnesota win for Hoyer last year.

It's obvious that Hoyer is in a bad spot if he performs poorly after being given the starting job, but the Browns can just plug in Manziel and move on. What if Hoyer does well instead?

The Browns' nonconference games are mostly winnable ones (Raiders, Texans, Falcons, Titans), and Hoyer can shine in those appearances. Plus, if he performed as well as he did against the Bengals last year, he could perform just as well against the Steelers and Ravens.

If the Browns end up 8-8 or 9-7 and look to be going in the right direction, that's good news, right? The fans and media would love it, but this would throw a wrench into any front office plans, and they would have to make a decision on whether Hoyer or Manziel is their long-term option.

The end result? Yet another major quarterback controversy at this time next year. They could trade either quarterback in that case, but having to make a call like that would not be easy for anyone to swallow.

Even in that case, at best Manziel is traded, Hoyer is the quarterback for the near future and everyone begins to play the "what if" game with Johnny Football rather than enjoying a solid record put up by a Browns quarterback, which leads Hoyer right back to square one.

The Browns drafted Manziel in the first round to be the quarterback of the future. Those kind of draft picks are not just cast aside.

All Hoyer can do is just go out there and play football, letting the chips fall where they may. Any personnel moves are out of his hands, just like his long-term fate might be.

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