One of the most dramatic quarterback competitions in recent history came to a close Wednesday morning, with Brian Hoyer getting the nod over Johnny Manziel.
In the end, it’s not too difficult to figure out why.
“I think more than anything, Johnny was not able to demonstrate that he was ready to take over this team – either on or off the field,” Cleveland Plain Dealer Browns writer Mary Kay Cabot said on The Morning Show. “He didn’t know the playbook well enough yet. Then of course we saw the obscene gesture to the Redskins’ bench the other night. He was late for a team meeting the week before. I will say that Johnny’s coming up the learning curve very quickly, (but) he’s not there yet – and Mike Pettine has said all along (that) he prefers veteran leadership and ability over rookies.”
Yes, it would have been awfully difficult for Mike Pettine, a rookie head coach, to walk into a meeting room with grown men and say he was rewarding a 21-year-old kid who looked like a punk against Washington on Monday. That’s the wrong message to send if you’re hoping to establish a winning culture.
“It was part of (the decision),” Cabot said, referencing Manziel’s middle-finger salute. “I asked Mike Pettine on a conference call yesterday, and he admitted, yes, everything that they’ve done since they walked in the door in the spring – from A to Z – will be factored in. And we all have seen what Johnny has been up to since the day he was drafted. He did not show at all from that moment that he was going to come in here and take this job. And you know what? It was just a complete wrong approach on his part. What he needed to do was . . . stay in town and not leave, get in that playbook and do all the things that Brian Hoyer was doing.”
“I can promise you that Brian Hoyer was in that building,” Cabot continued. “He was in that facility every day. They saw his face. They saw how hard he was working to come back from his torn ACL. And Johnny just didn’t do those things. He needed somebody to pull him aside and say, ‘You know what? Get in there and work your tail off.’”
What’s the feel in the locker room? Are guys happy that Hoyer will start?
“I think a lot of guys have been really excited about what Johnny Manziel can bring to the table,” Cabot said. “If they had named Johnny the starter, people would have been excited about that, too. It was not a divided locker room in the way that some people think that it was; it was a locker room that was ready to embrace both guys, and they saw that both had merits. You had (a) steady, veteran leader, and then you had the play-making, wild-child rookie – and I think they were intrigued by both of them. There was not a rift. They were ready to go with either one.”
“But I do 100 percent agree,” Cabot continued. “You could not walk into your locker room and say, ‘Hey, you now what? The kid that lost his cool the other night in Washington, he’s going to be your starting quarterback.’”
While Manziel is beloved in Cleveland, let’s not forget that Hoyer, 28, is a hometown hero.
“There is so much support for Brian here that I think fans will still be excited by this,” Cabot said. “I do think the support for Brian will be there.”