2014 in Review: The quarterbacks
(We will do a position-by-position review of each of the Browns positions as the team heads toward the 2015 season. We’ll start with the quarterback position.)
The Browns have searched for over 16 seasons to try and find the franchise quarterback. 2014 was supposed to be the season to find the quarterback moving forward. It was to see if Brian Hoyer would be able to handle the role of the team’s starting quarterback or to start in the development process of rookie Johnny Manziel.
Hoyer started fairly strong and led the Browns to a 6–3 start through the first nine games. However, his play spiraled downward thereafter and Mike Pettine decided to start Manziel in the biggest game of the Browns season.
Manziel failed miserably in his first start and then was injured in his second start and finished the season on injured reserve. Undrafted rookie free agent Connor Shaw finished the season and showed more poise than Manziel did in his first NFL action.
A brief breakdown of the quarterbacks who ended the season on the roster:
Brian Hoyer—Hoyer finished the season at the bottom of NFL quarterbacks in most statistical categories, including completion percentage at just 55.3 percent. Overall, Hoyer was 242-of–438 for 3,326 yards with 12 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. His rating was 76.5. Hoyer’s record as a starter for the Browns is 10–6 over the past two seasons, which is his most redeeming accomplishment. Hoyer is a free agent and is expected to be offered a better opportunity elsewhere.
Johnny Manziel—. Manziel’s best showing was in a mop up role against the Bills when he moved the team 80 yards for a touchdown in his first series, including a 10-yard touchdown run.
However, Manziel failed miserably in his first NFL start against the Bengals as the Browns were shut out. He finished the season 18-of–35 for 175 yards (51.4 pct.) with no touchdowns and two interceptions. His rating was just 41.9.
With the likely departure of Hoyer, the Browns have to decide if Manziel can be trusted to turn the reins over to in 2015.
Connor Shaw—Shaw showed grit and poise in his only game action for a player who spent 16 weeks on the practice squad. He was 14-of–28 for 177 yards (50 pct.) with no touchdowns and one interception in his only game. His rating was 55.2. Whatever the Browns decide to do, Shaw will likely return to battle for either the second or third quarterback spot.
Tyler Thigpen—Picked up a nice check for standing on the sideline for the final game after Manziel was placed on injured reserve and Hoyer was unable to play. He might be brought to training camp, but it hardly an option moving forward.
Summary: The Browns quarterback situation is arguably in worse shape than it was at this time heading into the 2014 off-season. At this time a year ago, the Browns decided to part ways with Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell, but felt Hoyer was the inherent starter heading into the season.
They planned on drafting a quarterback to develop and sit while Hoyer played. Manziel was drafted and the plan was working until Hoyer faltered and the plan was scrapped. Manziel’s body of work, although small, doesn’t give the Browns any confidence going into 2015 that he can be the answer.
Pettine said the quarterback position is “muddy at best” going into the off-season. With Hoyer a free agent, the Browns have to make a decision on if they are going to re-sign Hoyer, sign another quarterback in free agency, make the commitment to Manziel as the starter in 2015 or draft another quarterback to compete with him.
(Next: We’ll review the running backs)