It's Hoyer's job - and his chance to keep it
AUG 20, 2014 7:02p ET
BEREA, Ohio -- The Cleveland Browns have a quarterback -- and every intention of having just one quarterback.
Brian Hoyer knows the circumstances and the stakes. As a native Clevelander, he knows the history, too.
Hoyer has held off Johnny Manziel in a training camp competition and knows he'll have to deliver wins to keep holding off the much-ballyhooed first-round pick. It's something Hoyer is used to.
"I've been looking over my shoulder my whole career," Hoyer said Wednesday afternoon, a few hours after Browns coach Mike Pettine called Hoyer into his office and gave him the news.
He won the job because he came to training camp ahead of Manziel, not because he delivered a bunch of grade-A performances. The Browns offense has gone nowhere fast this preseason, but Pettine believes Hoyer is still battling back from a torn ACL that ended his 2013 season in early October and will play better now that he can worry about the challenges ahead and not the day-to-day competition.
"He's had a lot going on," Pettine said. "We'll see how things are for him now. I think maybe there's some sense of relief or some re-found confidence. I just think he was dealing with a lot coming into camp where he was a hometown guy and was the starter, but he had a draft pick competing with him. Then, certainly we've already discussed it here, he's just coming off the injury. I think that's a lot on a young guy's plate."
Hoyer has four career starts, three last season after joining the Browns in May and going through most of the preseason as the No. 3 quarterback. He admitted to cracking a smile upon Pettine delivering the news but said there's been no time to let it soak in.
"Obviously it's very special to me," Hoyer said. "Did I believe this could happen after I got hurt? There was no doubt in my mind but there were days that rehab sucked.
"It's amazing how much you appreciate the game when it's taken away from you."
Hoyer has completed just 6-of-22 passes in leading the No. 1 offense to three field goals in two brief preseason appearances. The Browns are 0-for-7 attempting to convert third downs with Hoyer on the field in the preseason, too, but Pettine pointed out that dropped passes and wrong routes by intended targets haven't helped. Pettine's target date all along was now, before the third and most important preseason game, and a day after admitting that "all options are on the table" he picked Hoyer, announcing it to the team Wednesday morning.
"You're trying to find that sweet spot between if you do it too early then they really didn't compete at all and if you do it too late, you run the risk...nobody is ready for the opener and you donÃt have cohesion, chemistry, things that I've talked about," Pettine said. "That's why we had targeted it (for this week) and felt when we met last night that we had enough information to go ahead."
Pettine's goal, obviously, is for Hoyer to be the quarterback and not just the guy keeping the seat warm for Manziel. Pettine said there are no plans for an offensive package that brings Manziel into the game.
"This is Brian's job," Pettine said. "I never think of it as it's a leash or we want a guy to be a game manager. We want him to be confident and go out and play."
Hoyer used to go to Browns games with his father at old Cleveland Municipal Stadium. He made two home starts last year and said throughout camp he believed it was his team until he was told differently.
He got official word on Wednesday, then got to work on keeping the job.
"It's been my mentality this whole camp to get out here and act like a starter," Hoyer said. "Now, it's just get out here and run with it.
"Now that it's here, it's time to work harder."