The game itself took a back seat to the drama surrounding the starting QB job. Most focused on whom benefited more from the team's performance, Brian Hoyer or Johnny Manziel. Neither guy has blown the coaching staff away during training camp, so Cleveland's four preseason games may be the final decider.
Unfortunately, Monday night's game did little to elevate either QB.
Hoyer had completed 2-of-6 passes for 16 yards. Sports Illustrated's Peter King thought that the 28-year-old did little to prove he deserves the starting job:
Brian Hoyer has to make plays to win this job. In a pretty important quarter for his future, he's been totally meh.— Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) August 19, 2014
Manziel wasn't much better, going 7-of-16 for 65 yards and a touchdown. He also let the Redskins sideline know exactly what he thought of them, per Bleacher Report:
He'll likely be looking at some kind of fine from either the team, NFL or a combination of the two. Rob McBurnett, who works in the Browns' public relations department, wasted little time giving the rookie some words of advice, via SB Nation's Brendan Porath:
NFL.com's Daniel Jeremiah wasn't impressed with Johnny Football, highlighting the fact that he wasn't getting away from the center quickly enough:
Manziel is consistently late getting away from center. Kills the rhythm of the play.— Daniel Jeremiah (@MoveTheSticks) August 19, 2014
In terms of the QB battle, Monday night was a wash, which was mostly the case last week against the Detroit Lions, too.
Here's how each guy has performed in the first two weeks.
There hasn't been much difference between Hoyer and Manziel so far, aside from Manziel running for a lot more yards, which is a bit expected given his style. Part of that, though, is because the first-round draft pick's a bit too eager to tuck and run rather than make the easy throw.
Many people view those numbers through the spectrum of fantasy football. Fans everywhere are curious as to how the preseason has so far affected Manziel's and Hoyer's fantasy value.
To a certain extent, both men's fates are tied to the ruling the NFL hands down regarding Josh Gordon. The league continues to drag its heels about his possible suspension, so until that decision is revealed, the Browns passing game is in flux.
With Gordon, Hoyer and Manziel are much more appealing in fantasy drafts. Any QB would benefit from having a Pro Bowl-caliber wideout.
Without Gordon, both of their fantasy stocks take a hit, especially Hoyer, since he doesn't boast the mobility of Manziel. Cleveland doesn't have many other weapons outside Jordan Cameron.
That's only part of the problem, though.
What's really clouding their respective fantasy prospects is that Browns head coach Mike Pettine has yet to name one or the other the starting quarterback. Until that happens, it's hard to gauge when you should draft either player.
Of course, Pettine has never wavered from the idea that Hoyer will be the starter at least for the immediate future.
In a conversation after practice, Pettine was asked directly if Hoyer is in the lead as the starting quarterback.
"Yeah, I would say that," Pettine said. "Johnny has definitely closed the gap. But Brian has gone out and done his job. There were a couple of throws he had in the game he'd like to have back but that was his first live game back after the knee injury. That's not easy. I thought he was very poised, very confidence. I've heard people say when you have two quarterbacks, you don't have any. That's laughable to me. When you have two quarterbacks, you have two quarterbacks."
Battista went on to write that while Hoyer might have the job in Week 1, anything beyond that would be up in the air. If he struggled in the first few weeks of the season, Pettine would likely insert Manziel as the starter.
The Associated Press' Tom Withers agreed with the fact that Hoyer will at the very least start the Browns' regular-season opener:
Still believe it's going to be hard for #Browns coaches to hand keys to Manziel for opener. I will be stunned if he starts Week 1.— Tom Withers (@twithersAP) August 18, 2014
Don't tell that to Sports Illustrated's Doug Farrar. He remains thoroughly unconvinced with Hoyer:
I'd really like to know. If Brian Hoyer had played for the [MEDIOCRE TEAM X] instead of the Pats, would he even be in this fight?— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) August 19, 2014
Because whatever Hoyer is supposed to have, I'm not seeing it. Not here, not before.— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) August 19, 2014
At things stand now, neither player is worth taking as the starting quarterback for your fantasy team. Too many questions remain unanswered, such as Gordon's status, who's going to start, whether Hoyer can repeat last year and whether Manziel can be a consistent NFL-level quarterback.
In the event Hoyer is named the starter, you should only count on him providing security for the first three or four weeks of the season. Anything beyond that and he may not be the starter any more.
Of the two, the rookie is arguably the more draftable since he has the higher ceiling. With that ceiling comes more risk, though. If you want to go with the safer short-term option, draft Hoyer.