By Nick Muhl
Late in the fourth quarter of the Cleveland Browns game Sunday versus the Buffalo Bills, starting Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer was benched for the rookie Johnny Manziel. The highly awaited move by Browns head coach Mike Pettine was loudly cheered for as Mr. “Money” Manziel stepped on the field. Manziel did lead the Browns on their single touchdown-scoring drive of the day, capped off by a Johnny Manziel rushing touchdown. Following the 26-10 loss, the Browns coach did not make a decision on who the starting quarterback would be the next week for the Browns versus the Indianapolis Colts.
In his past three games, Hoyer has thrown one touchdown and six interceptions. The Browns have lost two of their last three games. Despite his slow streak in the past three games, Hoyer still has the Browns at a 7-5 record and facing their best chance to win the AFC North and capture a playoff spot in many seasons. However Hoyer still faces losing his starting position to the former Texas A&M heisman trophy winner.
Hoyer had this to say about his starting position on Monday in a post-practice interview, “You don’t get to 7-5 in the NFL just lucking into it,” Hoyer said. “It’s been a lot of hard work, and I think I’ve proven that I’ve gotten us to this point. I feel like I can carry us through the next four games.”
The Cleveland Browns traded up in the first round of this past year’s draft to select Johnny Manziel with the intention of him one day being the starting quarterback for the franchise. However, is the time now? Up until this point Pettine has remained firm in his position that the veteran Hoyer gives the Browns the best chance to win.
There is no denying Johnny Manziel’s popularity, following the NFL draft Manziel remained the number one NFL selling jersey for many months. His level of popularity has already put pressure by the media on the Browns franchise to answer the question, when will Johnny become the starting quarterback for the Browns?
After benching Hoyer this past Sunday, the media pressure has reached an all-time high. According to Washington Post writer Mark Maske, there is no turning back now for the Cleveland Browns franchise,
“The Browns invested plenty of hope in Manziel when they drafted him, and now it should be time to find out whether he can deliver. It’s the way of the NFL. Once a team turns to its young, would-be franchise quarterback, it generally stays with him until he demonstrates whether or not he can play. It would be extremely difficult to go back to Hoyer now.”
The Washington Post wasn’t the only paper to publish articles urging that now is the time for Johnny Manziel to be given the job. The Cleveland Plain Dealer, Chicago Tribune, ESPN blog writers and many more all weighed in this week on the largest new story in the NFL at the moment. An overwhelming majority appealing to Pettine to give the headline grabbing rookie a chance this week against Andrew Luck.
The Browns franchise has faced many obstacles in its search for its first Super Bowl and a franchise quarterback. Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, and Colt McCoy are just a few high draft picks the Browns have used over the past 15 seasons in hopes of finding a franchise quarterback who could lead them to victory and capture an AFC North title. It remains to be seen if Manziel will be given the chance this week against Indianapolis.