Browns’ Hoyer: "I’ve gotten us to this point"

BEREA, Ohio (AP) — Quarterback Brian Hoyer is positive he should be the starter for the rest of this
season. He should be the one leading his team to the playoffs. He’s convinced.

The Browns aren’t as certain.

A day after he was benched by coach Mike Pettine in the fourth quarter of a loss at Buffalo, Hoyer said
Monday that he hasn’t lost any of his confidence despite three straight poor performances and believes
he should keep his job over rookie Johnny Manziel.

"You don’t get to 7-5 in the NFL just lucking into it," Hoyer said. "It’s been a lot of
hard work, and I think I’ve proven that I’ve gotten us to this point. I feel like I can carry us through
the next four games."

Hoyer was replaced by Manziel in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 26-10 loss to Buffalo after throwing two
interceptions, continuing a pattern of bad games over the past month.

In his past three games, Hoyer has thrown just one touchdown pass, six interceptions and the Browns have
scored just 36 points.

Pettine has not yet decided who will start this week against Indianapolis. He’ll meet with his staff —
and general manager Ray Farmer — on Tuesday and intends to inform Hoyer and Manziel of his decision
Wednesday. Pettine said he’s not leaning in either direction, and insists the choice comes down to one

"I’ve said it a million times," he said. "Who gives us the best chance to win this
weekend?’ Period."

The Browns (7-5) remain in the thick of the AFC playoff race, but Pettine said Cleveland’s postseason
hopes won’t affect whether he sticks with Hoyer or switches to Manziel, who came in and sparked a
"stagnant" offense on Sunday.

"For us involving the playoffs, we have to win and that’s the bottom line," Pettine said.
"It’s not like anything beyond that would influence the decision. It’s ‘Who gives us the best
chance to win this weekend?" It’s that simple. It makes it easy when you look at it like that and
shut out everything else."

As Hoyer has done all season — after a win or loss — he was at his locker Monday to discuss the previous
day’s game.

For the first time since September, he walked away not knowing if he’ll be doing it again next week.
Hoyer, though, isn’t worried about anything other than getting ready for the Colts.

He’s the starter, and that’s the starter’s duty.

"I’m studying my tape on Indy, and I would do the same if I wasn’t," he said. "That’s just
the way I’ve always prepared. For me, nothing’s changed. I go about my business the way I handle it
every week, and that’s his right. He’s the head coach. He gets to make those decisions."

Pettine acknowledged the Browns discussed making a move at quarterback following a 23-7 loss to Houston
on Nov. 16. Hoyer threw a franchise-record 30 incompletions that day while being harassed by J.J. Watt
and the Texans’ defensive front.

In his first season as an NFL head coach, Pettine hasn’t been faced with a tougher decision than the one
he’s about to make. He’s conflicted.

"I don’t know where I want to go, and it’s certainly important," he said. "We’ll spend a
lot of time on it. I’ll lean on the people I trust to help make it."

Up until his recent slide, Hoyer had earned the trust of Pettine and his teammates. He hasn’t completely
lost it, and Cleveland’s issues are not specific to the quarterback position. Hoyer has spent the season
trying to hold off the immensely popular Manziel, whom the Browns drafted in the first round to be their
future quarterback.

Hoyer may have finally lost the fight.

Browns right guard John Greco appreciates what Hoyer has been up against.

"Give the guy credit. He’s got a lot of things he’s battling," Greco said. "He feels like
he’s the guy and we do, too, and it’s his job. And he’s been our leader all year, but decisions are out
of our hands, and we’re going to roll with it no matter what they choose."

For Hoyer, there’s a bottom line, too. He’s helped get the Browns, who had lost at least 11 games in each
of the past six seasons, back in the playoff hunt. No, he doesn’t run like Manziel or have as strong an
arm, but he’s won and that should mean something.

"We’re 7-5 here," he said. "We won three games last year here when I started, so 10-5 as a
starting quarterback, that’s not bad."

NOTES: Browns WR Miles Austin remains hospitalized in the Buffalo area with a kidney injury sustained
Sunday. Pettine doesn’t know when Austin, who had seven catches for 86 yards, got hurt. … Pettine said
the team is waiting for the rib injury to TE Gary Barnidge to "quiet down" before it’s known
how long he’ll be out. Pettine was drilled in the side by the helmet of a Bills defender after making a
catch in the first quarter.


AP NFL website: and

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.