Something Something Johnny Football Something

A̶ ̶s̶t̶o̶r̶y̶ ̶l̶i̶n̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶h̶a̶s̶ ̶a̶l̶r̶e̶a̶d̶y̶ ̶b̶e̶e̶n̶ ̶h̶a̶m̶m̶e̶r̶e̶d̶ ̶i̶n̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶g̶r̶o̶u̶n̶d̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶n̶o̶ ̶e̶n̶d̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶s̶i̶g̶h̶t̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶y̶o̶u̶’̶r̶e̶ ̶g̶o̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶g̶e̶t̶ ̶s̶i̶c̶k̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶l̶i̶s̶t̶e̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶s̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶N̶F̶L̶ ̶s̶e̶a̶s̶o̶n̶ ̶i̶s̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ Johnny Manziel made his non-special package NFL debut. And while Buffalo was playing some form of the prevent defense, his first drive was impressive – 80 yard touchdown drive in just over three minutes. He used his arm. He used his legs. He gave us a teaser trailer of the future.

His second drive didn’t go quite as well and was aided by a gift from an awful officiating crew (and although he took blame for the botched snap, Nick McDonald’s backup was the one delivering that football so…).

Before the last second ticked off the clock in Buffalo, the debate was already raging: Who will start for the Browns against Indianapolis next week? When Hoyer was lifted with 12 minutes to go in a game that was technically still in reach, I thought for sure that would be the end of his starting days in Cleveland barring an injury. However, not everyone agreed. And after listening to both sides of the argument, let’s just say that I’m glad I’m not the one who has to make the decision.

Obviously, the quarterback who gives the Browns the best chance to win should start. Asking 100 people who exactly that quarterback is will probably fetch you fifty reasons as to why either one of them should or should not start. And those 100 people don’t include the Browns coaching staff, who know significantly more about football than most people in the sample of 100 – and by “most,” I mean “all.” Debating the football merits of this decision or trying to convert people to Team Hoyer or Team Johnny would be about as fruitless as a political debate between a radical conservative and radical liberal.

My intention here isn’t to compare the football qualities of Manziel and Hoyer. I could see the reasoning behind starting either and could buy into either one giving Cleveland the best chance to win. Rather, my intent is to look at a different side of the argument.

With all things being equal, if next week’s game was on the road, I would have an easier time letting Brian Hoyer start (with a tiny leash). However, being at home, I believe Johnny Football should get the nod. This isn’t to say that I don’t think Manziel can do well on the road or that we should protect him from a hostile environment (he played in the SEC, after all, and those southerners can get nasty!).

Brian Hoyer has captained the S.S. Dawg Pound back into the sea of relevancy. He didn’t always take the smoothest or most direct path in doing so – he got caught in Hurricane Jaguar and Super Storm Texan and somehow barely missed the dreaded Falcon cliffs. The fact is, though, that Cleveland has seven victories after week 13 – six more than most national pundits picked them to achieve for the entire season. Even the most diehard Browns fan couldn’t have expected more. Cleveland is somehow still in the playoff race in December and while most will argue that it is despite Brian Hoyer, there is no way a Brandon Weeden-esque QB has the team in this position. Brian Hoyer deserves to be celebrated by Browns fans. He deserves to “go out on top” – or as “on top” as he possibly can go – in terms of his days as a Cleveland Browns starter.

That won’t happen in front of the home crowd who has already seen a Johnny Manziel peep show. (I tried three different wordings for this and they are all just as suggestive).

If Hoyer gets the start, everyone knows he’ll be on the aforementioned short leash. He’ll be one mistake away from getting the hook. In the city where he was raised. In front of his home crown. Who cheered when their own quarterback went down with injury.Twice.

No matter how you feel about Brian Hoyer, he doesn’t deserve that.

If the Browns were on the road this upcoming weekend, there may be a mild “OOOO we get to see Johnny play” cheer if / when Hoyer gets yanked.  But even if those cheers were loud, it wouldn’t sting Hoyer like the roars of his hometown crowd celebrating the arrival of his successor.

It’s pretty obvious that Brian Hoyer isn’t the long-term option as the Cleveland quarterback. He may stick around as a backup (IDEAL!!!); he may go elsewhere to compete for a starting job (understandable); he may just kind of fade out after a brief shining career (frowny face). However his exit may be, it is deserving of dignity and admiration by the Browns faithful and I just don’t see that being the case if he starts another game in Cleveland with a healthy Johnny Manziel on the roster.