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Hoyer’s ACL tear: Unfortunate, but a blessing in disguise for Browns


Brian Hoyer was a nice story. So was the Browns recent surge. And in one play, all that good-will, all that excitement generated by a local kid, turned starting quarterback, evaporated. And with it, a fascinating discussion point.

Hoyer tore his ACL courteous of a first quarter slide – usually a safe play, but this is the Browns we’re talking about — and he instantly went from sensational subplot to sidelined for the season. A strange twist that sucks the oomph out of Cleveland’s surprising 3-2 start (and clumped with the Indians quick post-season ouster, a bit of tough luck for the title starved city), but not necessarily such a terrible thing in the long run. It’s not like the Browns were generating high Las Vegas Odds to challenge for the Big Game (but hey, ya never know right?)

When Cleveland dealt 2012 1st round choice Trent Richardson, the 3rd overall pick and ‘the future’ bruiser that would carry the Browns back to offensive relevance, the tone appeared to be set that the organization was already shifting its sights to next year: particularly a strong QB class that could yield the franchise signal-caller Cleveland has desperately sought (and craved) since the epic flop of one, Timothy Couch (and a quick reminder to myself on the former Kentucky star who I foolishly pegged $90 on an autographed Browns mini-helmet, thinking I was ahead of the curve– Whoops).

The truth is that Brian Hoyer was likely lightning in a bottle for the Browns — a nice spark for a short time, who took advantage of injuries and his opportunity to start — but ultimately a guy who you probably don’t hitch the wheels of your franchise to.

And that’s no knock on the guy. I love a good underdog story and Hoyer fit the bill. But Hoyer’s been in the league since 2009, and the former Spartan QB has already found himself donning four different jerseys. He’s been a career backup (pretty hard to break through that Tom Brady force-field, and in two games with Arizona last year, he was less than impressive — albeit behind a horrendous offensive line).

It appeared that he’d get a shot to start for the beleaguered Cards this season — their fans tortured with horrific QB play since Kurt Warner retired — but then the team signed Drew Stanton and dealt for Carson Palmer, leading to his arrival in Cleveland.

Who knows: maybe Hoyer’s surge and Cleveland’s rise after an 0-2 start was for real. Or more likely — perhaps a brief mirage. And as a team looking at the bigger picture, you can’t let a mirage stall your future.

In a little over 2 games he put up some pretty sweet numbers after moving up the depth charts via Brandon Weeden’s early season injury; Not that the former first round pick Weeden was so great, but Hoyer’s performance was enough that heading into Thursday’s tilt with the Bills — the Browns finally sporting a healthy Weeden (and a ghastly brown jersey, brown pants combo) — still handed the keys of their offense to Hoyer.

And then in typical Cleveland sports fashion, he got hurt.

He’s gone for the season. So Cleveland now turns back to Weeden, likely knowing what it has (aka: not enough), probably comfortable that better days are ahead via the draft despite the early turnaround (and no, the erratic and young Josh Freeman is not the answer, and Cleveland has no intention to pursue the recently released former Bucs QB — Smart Move Browns!)

Two games hardly makes a good enough sample size. Look at Matt Flynn. Look at just about any successful backup Eagles quarterback who found himself on another team, poised to be the starter (Kevin Kolb anyone?) Anyone remember A.J. Feeley?

Who knows: maybe Hoyer’s surge and Cleveland’s rise after an 0-2 start was for real. Or more likely — perhaps a brief mirage. And as a team looking at the bigger picture, you can’t let a mirage stall your future.

Cleveland needs a franchise QB. For the Brownies to ride a hot streak out of the top slots of the draft, only to still have the same glaring needs just doesn’t make much sense long-term. Most fans don’t usually want to hear that. We want to win now (and for good reason — those tickets ain’t cheap!)

But even the mighty Steelers struggled for years and found themselves on the right side of a 1-13 1969 season. They tied with the Bears for the worst record in football and won the coin toss, electing to draft Mr. Terry Bradshaw. Bradshaw, now a well-known analyst for Fox, had a Hall of Fame career, the Steelers dominated the 1970′s — leading to a book soon to be released called Their Life’s Work — and the rest is history.

The point is this: Chuck Noll was determined to build the team he wanted through the draft. Even if it caused some lumps on the field, eventually it translated to wins. He always saw the bigger picture and it showed. When the Steelers took the field in New Orleans for Super Bowl IX versus the Vikings just 5 years later — they had just 5 guys remaining from that dreadful 1 win squad. Not a coincidence. It was a process.

That’s why Hoyer’s injury is probably a blessing in disguise (sorry Hollywood). It’s a tough blow for the  6 foot 2, 215 pound hometown kid from Lakewood, OH, who went to school in Cleveland. I feel for him and his family.

But there’s nothing worse than being stuck in mediocrity. You want to either rise to the top — where the air is crisp — or bottom out and rebuild. Every team has a plan. The best teams are smart enough to stick with theirs.

Cleveland will likely tail off with Weeden back under center, or perhaps the rejuvenated Browns will feed off their three game winning streak and keep afloat in a wide open AFC North race. Regardless, the Browns don’t have to be disillusioned any more by a hot start from a journey-men backup, who was quickly gaining favor from playoff-craving fans, desperate for their team to be a consistent winner again. The Browns can continue to stay the course, ride it out, and simply see what happens.

It’s a tough break for Hoyer, but ultimately it’s probably the right break for Cleveland.


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2 Responses to “Hoyer’s ACL tear: Unfortunate, but a blessing in disguise for Browns”

  1. Cleveland still a lot to do and improve if they want to take a change of a good future!!!

  2. If he is introduced to a fellow mortal and a number of timberland boots on sale pauses occur in the conversation, he regards himself as a failure, a worthless person

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