Tales from the Dorkbook

Mike Pettine's loyalty to Brian Hoyer during the game was not a good look.

Taylor Gabriel broke into the open against one of the worst pass defenses in the NFL. For a brief moment, it seemed as if the Browns mopey offense would awake from its slumber and build on the momentum created by a defense playing at an All-Pro level.

Brian Hoyer reared back and fired, over-throwing the wide-open receiver by at least ten yards.

* * *

The moment came, and the moment passed Mike Pettine by.

We learn the most about people in times of adversity, of pressure, of crisis. Sometimes people fold up under the pressure, sometimes they persevere.

Sometimes they pull back, become very cautious, and take no chances, playing it safe in an attempt to weather the storm.

Hello, Mike Pettine.

The Browns coach, in electing to stick with Brian Hoyer throughout a sub-lackluster offensive performance against the Indianapolis Colts seemed to show that he is an extraordinarily cautious man, concerned about the potential of disastrous failure.

* * *

There is no way to describe Hoyer’s performance against the Colts other than awful. The statistical line is evidence enough, as the Cleveland native finished with 14 completions in 31 attempts for 140 yards, with no touchdowns and two interceptions, resulting in an absurd 31.7 passer rating.

Cleveland fans, well experienced in the realm of bad quarterback play, would register those numbers as somewhere between a Spurgeon Wynn and a Brady Quinn. Not a good place to be.

Hoyer was nothing short of terrible, leading the team to frequent three-and-outs despite good field position. The bad performance was highlighted even more by the return of Pro Bowl tight end Jordan Cameron to the field, joining stellar wide receiver Josh Gordon.

Despite the offensive ineptitude, the Browns were in the contest throughout, leading until the final moments of the ballgame. This is thanks to an aggressive, opportunistic, and praise-worthy defense which scored two touchdowns, picked off two Andrew Luck passes, created four fumbles, and held one of the top NFL offenses in check throughout the game.

* * *

One should probably take Pettine at his word that he never considered a quarterback change, but such a thing is hard to envision. Hoyer, after all, was worse, if anything, against the porous Colts defense than he was the previous week against the ferocious Bills.

If Pettine wasn’t afraid to put Manziel in against the ravenous front four of Buffalo, why was he concerned about playing him against Indianapolis? If a coach was hoping for a rookie quarterback to get some traction, a home game against a weak Colts pass defense would seem to be a good opportunity.

If I were in his shoes, with a close game hanging in the balance and a key decision to be made, I would envisioning two scenarios: One where I made the change, and Manziel immediately turned the ball over, leading to a Colts touchdown. Or one where Manziel improved the quality of offensive play, allowing the team to take advantage of the opportunities created by their defense.

One thing that should have been obvious, however, was that sticking with Hoyer was equivalent to dying a slow death. The Browns starter was simply not getting it done and was providing the Colts excellent offense with chance after chance. Andrew Luck simply couldn’t be given all those chances.

A high chance of reward matched with high risk, or a slow bleed leading to the inevitable?

Mike Pettine chose the latter on Sunday.

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