A Leader Emerges in Cleveland Browns

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The Cleveland Browns defeated the New Orleans Saints in a hard-fought game by the score of 24-26. Quarterback Brian Hoyer was an integral part of his team’s first win of the season as his poise, leadership and decisiveness with the football were on display throughout the game. With just 204 yards through the air and one touchdown, Hoyer’s statistics weren’t stellar; but when a play needed to be made, he was able to answer the bell during critical moments of the game.

In the third quarter, the Browns inserted rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel into the football game as a “change-of-pace quarterback”. Taking the starting quarterback out of the game typically has adverse results on the player’s rhythm, but Hoyer showed no ill effects. Hoyer continued to show the ability to execute the offense and quickly get rid of the football.

With the Browns’ offense devoid of talents such as Josh Gordon (suspension), Jordan Cameron (Shoulder), Ben Tate (Knee), the Browns found themselves down 24-23 in the final moments of the fourth quarter. Hoyer managed to complete two passes on third down to keep his offense on the field. Hoyer completed 8 of his 11 passes on the drive for 79 yards to set up the game winning 29-yard field goal by Billy Cundiff. Hoyer spoke to reporters about the final drive after the game.

“[…] I’m not sure how many different guys I hit I know Miles Austin had a few crucial plays. Gary Barnidge stepping up big on fourth down and obviously Hawk (Andrew Hawkins) catching the one at the end. You have just got to play until the end and see what happens. Good things tend to happen when you do that.”

Hoyer also expounded on the makings of the 28-yard pass to Hawkins with 13 seconds left in the game, which set up the Cundiff Brian Hoyer vs Saints Thumbfield goal.

“That play, we were surprised they all-out blitzed us two plays in a row. Kyle Shannahan had a great call, and when I saw the guy run over with, I think Miles (Austin), I’m reading him first, then you just see everyone fly down, it’s almost like you throw a punt and just let him catch it. I got hit and I didn’t get to see him catch it. All I saw was just him under the ball and then I heard the crowd and I knew we were set up to kick the field goal.”

Obviously it meant a lot for the Browns to get their first win of the season, but to do so against a quality opponent such as the New Orleans Saints makes the victory that much sweeter. Hoyer discussed how big the win was for his team.

“When a team can come together like that and play the way we did, regardless of all the situations that we had to deal with, and win a game against a team who some think are going to the Super Bowl, it was a pretty big win, for us to come together and see it come to fruition and actually win the game.”

Hoyer consistently conducts himself with a sense of confidence that other players can rally behind, which can be attributed to a game he played in last season when the Browns pulled out the victory in similar fashion. “I think the biggest thing for me is to win a game like that,” Hoyer said. “We won like that in my first start against Minnesota last year and you see the guys really believing in you. It’s the best feeling there is. Winning the game is great, but when the guys in that room respect you, that’s what it’s all about. It’s a great feeling.”

Hawkins offered his thoughts on Hoyer as a leader.

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 “He was himself. Very confident, very poised, and those are the qualities you want in a quarterback. There was no doubt in his mind that we were going to go down and get the points we needed to win the game, and that’s exactly the way it happened.”

While many are clamoring for Manziel to become the starting quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, it would be wise for fans to sit back and appreciate what they have in Hoyer. He might not have a cannon for an arm, but he throws the football with enough anticipation to compensate for his “lack of arm strength”. He might not be as mobile as Manziel, and other quarterbacks in the NFL, but he quickly goes through his progressions and consistently makes the appropriate read.

Hoyer might not be a prototypical quarterback, but he is indeed a leader with a composite skill set necessary to win football games in the NFL.

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