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Saturday, 6 December 2014

The Great NFL Pigskin Pick 'Em: The Stretch Run

The quarter-poll is finally here for the 2014 NFL season. Per usual, it’s been a wild ride. We’ve seen the resurgence of some teams, the complete collapse of others and the continued dominance of the NFL blue bloods that many pundits thought had come to a whimpering end. The last four weeks promises to be just as interesting as there are still playoffs spots very much up for grabs for a huge portion of the league. 

That’s all nice and good but I wanted to delve into the point that I was going to touch on last week but ran out of time and patience to elaborate on. If you’re not from Cleveland or hate quarterback controversies, you can skip the next few paragraphs and head straight to the picks. It’s time we had a frank discussion about Brian Hoyer.

It doesn’t take an expert NFL analyst to see the tipping was coming in regards to the quarterback position. The past month, Brian Hoyer has been an utter and complete stink bomb. 1 touchdown, 6 interceptions and a 2-2 record. The team isn’t winning because of him, they are winning in spite of him. 

Local pundits, as well as fans, are completely divided on what to do at quarterback; stick with Hoyer or go to the rookie Johnny Manziel. If you do a hashtag search on Twitter or keyword search on Facebook for “Hoyer”, “Browns”, “JohnnyFootball”, or “JFF”, you’re likely to find all sorts of people spouting off about why one or the other should be starting. The arguments on both sides are fairly absurd as they generally have nothing to do with football but the arguments supporting Hoyer, as he continues his death spiral, are truly bizarre but reveal a very particular pattern of thinking. 

I should have screen capped these comments but when you’re busy yelling and arguing with your friends over Twitter, you forget to do those things. However, here are some of the greatest hits in support of Brian Hoyer.

  • “What’s Brian Hoyer’s record? He’s won 7 games, that’s a winner in Cleveland.” Too bad the season isn’t over yet and if we only win 7 games, we’ll have a losing record.
  • “All of the greats had losing seasons. Look at Dan Marino, one of the greatest ever and he doesn’t even have a Super Bowl ring.” Fun fact: Dan Marino had two losing seasons in 17 years and only one of those was a complete season. I’m not even going to address the absurdity of comparing Hoyer to Marino. 
  • “They [Cleveland sports media] didn't see that Hoyer was working with a all pro tackle that couldn't block, a 3 string center and tight end and running backs that started 10 yards behind the line and player not running their routes. Go Browns.” I’m not sure what the last part of the sentence means but the first part, blaming everyone else, is now a motif with Hoyer supporters. 
  • “[Head coach Mike] Pettine knows things we don't know. He sees the work (or lack of) that Johnny puts in on a daily basis. Maybe if he would show a real commitment, they might have more faith in him.” Right, that’s why he went to Manziel in lieu of Hoyer to try and salvage the Buffalo debacle, because he was unprepared and not committed to the team. Also, I hate the word “faith” when we’re talking about sports. Sports are completely quantifiable and having faith in someone is to ignore the FACTS. One more quote for you.
  • “[Josh] Gordon needs to learn his routes and show more effort. How many of his picks in the last few weeks have been directed to Gordon? West needs to hold onto the ball as well. Glad to see Hoyer is still our QB.” Gordon just came off a suspension two weeks ago, so it’s probably unfair to blame all of Hoyer’s misfires and the league’s worst completion percentage on a guy who wasn’t even in the building the first 10 weeks of the year.

Every Brian Hoyer fan comes off as a broken and abused lover trying their best to justify why their relationship is great and why it’s working. Hoyer fans, and by extension a lot of Browns fans, have seen so much shitty football we’re ready to lower the bar on what a winner looks like. In this case, all you need is 7 wins! 

Every Brian Hoyer fan reaches for the most impossible straw man they can find when people assail them with facts over Hoyer’s performance: “well, Dan Marino was bad this one time”, “Tom Brady was a backup too”, or “Joe Montana didn’t have the strongest arm either!” Too bad we don’t have any of those guys!

Every Brian Hoyer fan is ready with an excuse for why he’s done so miserably recently. None of it seems to be his fault. Gordon didn’t run the right route, our starting center is gone, our left tackle had a bad game. Excuses. The elite QBs don’t need anyone to excuse them because they overcome adversity.

Finally, every Brian Hoyer fan hates Johnny Manziel. More specifically, they hate the persona of Johnny Football. They hate that he parties on his off days, they hate that he’s marketing savvy, they hate that he’s flashy, they hate all of these things about Manziel that have absolutely NOTHING to do with football but they are more than prepared to use that as a reason to keep him off the field. It makes no sense. You don’t think Bernie Kosar and Gary Danielson weren’t living it up off the field during their heyday with the Browns? Josh Gordon got suspended, again, for putting himself into situations that are just flat out stupid and detrimental to the team but people have already welcomed him back with open arms. 

Since the incredible comeback against the Tennessee Titans on the road, Hoyer has completed 53% of his passes with 5 touchdowns, 9 interceptions and a quarterback rating of about 76.37. 

Oh, I almost forgot my favorite reason why Clevelanders back Brian Hoyer despite his subpar performances: He’s from here!

Provincialism is a blinding force, especially in smaller cities with a chip on their shoulder. Cleveland wants Brian Hoyer to succeed because he’s a good Catholic boy from the westside of Cleveland. He cheered for the Browns as a kid, just like us! He works hard, just like us! HE’S JUST LIKE US.

So because he’s just like us, he deserves to have an extra long rope with which to hang himself and our playoff chances? Wake up, Cleveland, and stop being so damn stupid: Hoyer has hit the glass ceiling for backup quarterbacks.  

Last Week: 10-6 (Lester 1-2)
Season: 114-84-1 (Lester 4-8)

  • *Goes to put the thumbs up next to the Cowboys, checks the calendar, confirms it’s December, moves it back to the Bears*
  • Will you please beat the Bengals? Brian Hoyer needs all the help he can get.
  • The RGIII Bowl. I guess the Rams have the upper hand in the monster Robert Griffin III trade?
  • If the Giants lose two-in-a-row to the Jaguars and Titans, you have to fire everyone, right?

  • Can we forget the NFC South exists for the rest of the season?
  • The Jets have already forgotten that Geno Smith exists. That’s a step in the right direction.
  • We need you, Ryan Tannehill! Do your Tannehill magic!
  • If the Browns get down by 13 or 17 by half, it will be the last we’ve seen of Brian Hoyer in Cleveland unless he comes back to visit his family in the offseason.

  • How good would the Lions be if they actually scored consistently? Scary.
  • Hoyer or RGIII: who’s more likely to be in Houston next year?
  • I heard Peyton Manning was pretty good, so I’ll pick his team to win.
  • With Carson Palmer at the helm, the Cardinals looked like a contender. Without…yikes.

  • Have you ever seen a bald eagle up close? They’re enormous, probably because they’re made entirely out of freedom, which has a lot of mass and volume. Ospreys aren’t as big because they’re the sea-faring communists of the bird world. What’s that? I’m picking football games? In that case, give me the ospreys. 
  • Lester’s first step toward redemption?
  • Who’s Gronk going to throw out of the club this week?
  • The Falcons are like a semi-flat soda: kind of fizzy, but wholly unsatisfying. This one should be ugly. 


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