The Cleveland Browns are sitting at 7-5 and have a very realistic opportunity to earn their first trip to the postseason since the 2002 season but the quarterback dilemma might just derail those dreams for the Browns. Brian Hoyer has been the starter since week 1 and while he has struggled the past two weeks, he is the guy that the Browns need as their quarterback for the rest of the season, not rookie Johnny Manziel.
Johnny Manziel will be the future of the Browns franchise as he has the skill set and the cocky attitude needed to drive a team to success, but his skill set isn’t complete enough to carry a team to the postseason especially to a division title.
Manziel has not played all season except last Sunday against the Bills where he did have a rushing touchdown and made a few excellent passes, but he also showed flashes of struggles that come with a rookie quarterback. If the Browns thrown him into the fire, they can kiss their 2014 season goodbye and they run the risk of destroying Manziel’s mental physic that he needs in order to be successful in the NFL.
Hoyer has thrown six interceptions in the past three games while only having one touchdown. I understand that Hoyer might only be a solid backup quarterback in the future, but right now he gives Cleveland the best chance to win as he understands the offense and has the poise in the pocket to take the hits and deliver those tight passes when the outdoor elements are less than friendly.
Cleveland hadn’t even been close to the playoffs since 2007 when Derek Anderson took the Browns 9-7 and even made the Pro Bowl. While Anderson fell off the map after that great season, the team stuck with him as he gave them the best chance of winning, not then rookie Brady Quinn. Fast forward seven years later and again the Browns are in the same situation and I believe it would be a grave mistake to put a rookie in late in the season and expect him to carry the team to the postseason.
The last time a team decided to put a rookie in late in the season when in playoff contention was 2006 when the Denver Broncos put Jay Cutler in over veteran Jake Plummer. The end result was that Denver struggled along with Cutler and they missed the postseason. So history says that rookies don’t have a successful track record when put in this tough situation.
Cleveland has a tough schedule ahead of them in the last four weeks of the season as they play the Colts, Bengals, Panthers, and Ravens. Three out of the four teams have excellent defenses that will bring solid pressure on a rookie quarterback and force him to either be the hero or the big zero.
This is a dangerous situation as a young quarterback can suffer a lack of success and it could be a confidence killer that is hard to bounce back from. I think Cleveland needs to think long-term with Johnny and keep him on the bench while allowing the veteran Hoyer to either sink or swim.
I honestly believe that Manziel will be the starter for Cleveland in 2015 as Hoyer will be a free agent and Manziel will have a good enough grasp on the offense to lead them to success with his strong-arm and playmaking ability that a young Brett Farve had back in the mid 1990’s. With that being said, Johnny Football is a good quarterback but he isn’t ready to take the Browns to the postseason.