It’s easy to pick on the Cleveland Browns. An easy target for jokes is the team’s history with quarterbacks since returning in 1999, which has been well-documented and will one day lead to its own ESPN 30 for 30 documentary. (“From Kosar to… Rosen”?)
One of the QBs who has gone through the Browns’ revolving door is Brian Hoyer, who’s in Super Bowl LII as a backup to Tom Brady with the New England Patriots. If you think Hoyer isn’t keeping tabs on his former team, think again. He knows exactly what the score is in Cleveland since he lost his starting job in 2014.
“They’ve only won three games since then. So I think that explains everything. Is it three or four? Four,” Hoyer said to Tony Grossi of ESPN.
With Hoyer as the starting quarterback, the Browns were 9-6 prior to his departure. The Browns have indeed won just four games since Hoyer last started for the team, with three wins in 2015, one in 2016 and none this past season.
Hoyer was the starter for the Browns at the start of the 2014 season, but was eventually replaced by rookie first-round pick Johnny Manziel after going through some struggles in the middle of the season. At the end of the season, Hoyer’s contract with the Browns expired and the team decided to go in a different direction, hoping to ride with Manziel as the franchise quarterback. That didn’t quite go according to plan for the Browns, of course.
Meanwhile, Hoyer signed a free agent contract with the Houston Texans in 2015, where he spent one season before latching on with the Chicago Bears in 2016 and the San Francisco 49ers in 2017 before ultimately landing with the Patriots after New England traded away Jimmy Garoppolo. (Hoyer was released by the 49ers following the trade rather than be included in the trade piece because the Patriots did not want to include compensatory draft picks.)
Talking to reporters during Super Bowl week, Hoyer reflected on his time in Cleveland, portraying a franchise that is as dysfunctional as they come and he is absolutely right. There is really no other way to describe the quarterback instability over the years in Cleveland and the Browns just went 0-16 this past season.
Now, despite picking up Deshone Kizer in the draft and making him a starter in his rookie season, the Browns are once again in position to draft a top-flight passer and another key player with two of the top four picks in the NFL Draft. Options include quarterbacks Josh Rosen, Sam Darnold, Lamar Jackson, Baker Mayfield, and Josh Allen, while Saquon Barkley is the top running back available. Only the Browns can manage to screw this up, right?
While the Browns try to establish some stability, Hoyer might get a Super Bowl ring as Brady’s backup.