Experience, O’Brien’s comfort level helped Hoyer win job

AP

After what Texans coach Bill O’Brien called “a true competition,” Brian Hoyer has been named the team’s starting quarterback over Ryan Mallett.

Hoyer “showed the most consistency,” O’Brien said, and is the more experienced of the two. He’s 10-7 over the last three seasons as a starter, all but one of those with the Browns.

O’Brien had both Hoyer and Mallett in camp with the Patriots in 2011 when O’Brien was the quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Hoyer, 29, signed a two-year deal with the Texans in March, not long after Mallett had agreed to a deal to remain with the team. So, Hoyer saw a competition coming and believed he could win it.

The Patriots released Hoyer at the end of the 2012 preseason, and he caught on first with the Steelers and then with the Cardinals as an emergency injury replacement. He started 2013 as the No. 3 quarterback with the Browns but was promoted to starter two weeks in when then-starter Brandon Weeden was injured, and Hoyer went 3-0 as a starter but tore his ACL in the third and missed the remainder of the season.

Hoyer was awarded the job in Cleveland after last year’s training camp competition with Johnny Manziel; neither really won it. The Browns only scored one first-team touchdown in the preseason, and that was in the preseason finale against a defense made up of Bears second and third-teamers.

But Hoyer was a different player and the Browns were a different team starting in the second half of the regular-season opener. Hoyer posted a quarterback rating of 85 or higher in seven of the first nine games and had a 10-4 touchdown-to-interception ratio during that span. The one true clunker Hoyer posted during that span, a 24-6 loss in Jacksonville, was the first game the Browns played without injured center Alex Mack.

The Browns shuffled centers from there, and neither the run game nor the offense as a whole was ever the same without Mack. Hoyer threw just two touchdown passes over the next six games and might have been benched earlier than mid-December had Manziel been anywhere close to ready.

Both Manziel and Hoyer got hurt in December, and the Browns lost five straight to finish last season. The Browns signed Josh McCown before free agency started, a signal that bringing Hoyer back was never really considered, and Houston was easy to peg as a possible destination. Hoyer studied not only under O’Brien but under Tom Brady for three full seasons, and O’Brien could see him as a safer pick than the strong-armed Mallett would have been.

Mallett was traded to the Texans last August and made his only two starts last season before suffering a torn pectoral while warming up before his second start. He played through it but was shut down for the season after the game.

The prevailing thought is that Hoyer was the favorite to win the job in Houston all along; that he’s been in this spot before may have contributed to whatever edge he held throughout camp. Now, he’ll be asked to be steady, not spectacular, for a team that has a strong defense but will be without top runner Arian Foster to start the season. His second chance to start and run a team may be his last, and we’ll see if he hit his ceiling last fall in Cleveland or if he’s equipped to guide a team to the playoffs.

11 responses to “Experience, O’Brien’s comfort level helped Hoyer win job

  1. Please. O’Brien knows his best chance for landing Hackenturd next draft lies w/starting Hoyer at QB. That kid is mediocrity personified.

  2. This is not the same offence I thought they’d have when the signed Hoyer. AJ’s gone, Foster hurt, and they’ve made no significant moves to replace either. And the O Line’s in flux. I know they’re not finding any top receivers or RBs at this late date, but they should consider bringing Myers back.

  3. The contracts almost dictated Hoyer would be the starter. Mallett (or Savage) would have had to blow him out of the water to win the job, despite o’Brien’s diplomacy.

  4. stexan says:
    Aug 24, 2015 4:23 PM
    This is not the same offence I thought they’d have when the signed Hoyer. AJ’s gone, Foster hurt, and they’ve made no significant moves to replace either. And the O Line’s in flux. I know they’re not finding any top receivers or RBs at this late date, but they should consider bringing Myers back.

    ————-

    If the Bills cut Bryce Brown, he’d be the best RB on the Texans roster.

  5. stexan says:
    Aug 24, 2015 4:23 PM

    This is not the same offence I thought they’d have when the signed Hoyer. AJ’s gone, Foster hurt, and they’ve made no significant moves to replace either. And the O Line’s in flux. I know they’re not finding any top receivers or RBs at this late date, but they should consider bringing Myers back.
    ————————————————–
    Foster will be back week 4 or 5. AJ was declining but Hopkins is more than a good enough replacement. The offensive line is good – the only reason they’ve struggled in the preseason is from all the shifting around they’re doing. Blue will be improved from last year.

    This team went 9-7 with a checkdown QB in Fitzpatrick. They’ll be just fine with Hoyer being a game manager.

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