Brian Hoyer is on a roll, and the Browns aren’t about to stop it.
Coach Rob Chudzinski ended any mystery — if there was any — on Monday by saying Hoyer is the starting quarterback for Thursday night’s game against the Buffalo Bills.
With two wins in two starts since replacing injured Brandon Weeden, Hoyer is the first Browns QB to win his first two starts since Mark Rypien in 1994.
Although Weeden has been cleared to play after being sidelined with a sprained right thumb, Chudzinski is sticking with Hoyer, who led the Browns to a 17-6 win over Cincinnati on Sunday and has sparked the team after an 0-2 start.
Chudzinski declined to make Hoyer his starter for the remainder of the season and will continue to evaluate the position ”week to week.”
But it’s clear the Browns (2-2) believe in Hoyer, who won at Minnesota last week in his second career start.
”He played well again yesterday and for the past two weeks,” Chudzinski said. ”Obviously, we’ve been able to win in those games and in a short week we’ll get ready and be ready to play Thursday.”
Weeden, who started Cleveland’s first two games, took the demotion in stride. It’s tough to lose his starting job, but he understands the team’s reasons for staying with Hoyer.
”They made the decision and we’re playing well right now,” Weeden said following practice. ”I’m the ultimate team guy. I want to win games. I want to be on a team winning games. It makes this business a lot more fun. And Brian’s playing well, the offense is playing well, defense is playing outstanding. It’s fun to watch. I’m happy for this football team.”
Weeden said it’s difficult to handle not starting, but he’s been around long enough to know there’s a lot of season left.
”For me, I’d be lying if I said it was the ideal situation,” he said. ”I want to be out there. You never draw it up that you’re going to get hurt Week 2 and stuff like this happens. But it’s life. You can’t feel sorry for yourself.
”I’ve got to do what I can to help this team. I’m treating it like this is still my football team, I’m still involved in the offense, and stuff like that.
”I’m not discouraged. I’m going to keep continuing to prepare like I have been and, if my number’s called I’m ready to go.”
Hoyer does not have Weeden’s high-powered arm, but he has shown composure and control in the pocket and made enough big plays to keep the chains moving. Against the Bengals, he completed 25 of 38 passes for 269 yards and two TDs.
”I think he improved from the week before,” Chudzinski said. ”His decisions were very good. Just in talking with him this morning, there were a few throws he would like to have made better.
”But you look at the drives – we had some long drives we were able to string together because some of the things he did on third down, the decisions he was making and the guys were rallying around him.”
The Cleveland-area kid has Browns fans buzzing and his teammates are behind him.
”Brian’s done a nice job for us coming in, providing that spark,” Pro Bowl tackle Joe Thomas said. ”He had two nice games already making the right throws, getting the ball out on time, just making sure everybody’s on the same page. We’re 2-0 with Brian, so it’s no surprise that he’s going to be the starter.”
With the Browns leading the Bengals 10-6, Hoyer led Cleveland on a 91-yard scoring drive capped by a 1-yard TD pass to Chris Ogbonnaya. The TD essentially finished the Bengals, but when he returned to the bench, Hoyer urged Cleveland’s defensive players to put the game away.
”He’s really, really confident,” cornerback Joe Haden said. ”He comes to the sideline talking to the `D’ all in our face, smacking me on the butt like, `Joe, let’s go.’ He just has a really good spirit.”
Chudzinski said Hoyer is embracing the leadership role, part of the responsibility of being a No. 1 quarterback.
”He’s doing his job and that’s where all that starts,” Chudzinski said. ”That’s where you get the credibility to be able to do that. He’s a fiery guy. I think our whole team was that way about that game yesterday. The fans were awesome. It was loud. Guys were really excited about that and playing in front of them.
”Brian typified that.”
NOTES: The Browns announced details for their halftime tribute to Hall of Fame RB Jim Brown on Thursday. Cleveland’s legendary No. 32 skipped the team’s ring of honor ceremony two years ago amid a separation from the team. He re-joined the Browns as an adviser in May. … RG Shawn Lauvao worked with Cleveland’s starters after missing the first four games following ankle surgery. Lauvao thought he would play Sunday against Cincinnati but was inactive. He’s confident about being on the field against the Bills. … LB Jabaal Sheard (sprained knee) and DE Billy Winn (strained quadriceps) both remain sidelined. … LB Quentin Groves (sprained ankle) shed the walking boot he’s been wearing since getting hurt in Week 2. He worked on the side with a trainer during practice.