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#HeyTony: Is Brian Hoyer 'The Guy?'

Mar 22, 2014 -- 5:04pm

By Tony Grossi | ESPNCleveland.com

 

Photo/SI

Updated at 9:00 a.m.

With veteran quarterbacks changing teams and the Browns displaying an unusual approach to the quarterbacks in the draft, a question came in about Brian Hoyer. Is he really “the guy?”

Hey Tony: So help me out here, the Browns let a Pro Bowl Safety go just to sign an older and more expensive Pro Bowl Safety and now even your Mock Draft has the Browns skipping the top Quarterbacks with the #4 pick? The Browns have not made an all-out effort to land a franchise quarterback since Tim Couch in 1999. I’m tired of draft sliders (Quinn, McCoy); the over the hill gang (Dilfer, Garcia, and Delhomme) waiver wire rejects (Anderson) and fool’s gold (Holcomb). The Browns can’t get a franchise quarterback unless they at least try and get a franchise quarterback. If Hoyer is more than Holcomb 2.0 wouldn’t he have stuck elsewhere already? Do you really see him as the guy?

-- Doug Shaffer Orange, CA

Hey Doug: Hoyer wasn’t drafted and then spent three years sitting behind Tom Brady. No team but the Patriots would know how he was using that valuable time. So when he became available, there wasn’t a mad rush to sign him. Pittsburgh finally did as an emergency QB. Then the Steelers got caught up in numbers and let him go. Then the Cardinals needed an emergency QB. Hoyer made one start after spending most of the year out of football and then bouncing between two teams. Last year, Hoyer displayed toughness, leadership, quick-thinking and good touch on his throws – and then blew out a knee. I don’t know if he can be “the guy.” I don’t know if he can make it through 16 games. But I want to find out. He commands respect with his work ethic, toughness and leadership. The physical part of it is a question to me.

Hey Tony: The Browns ended the 2013 season with plenty of cap space. Why not sign Alex Mack to a contract  (last year) that was front loaded for 2013 season making his new contract cap friendly going forward? Can they do this with Joe Haden this year If we have the cap space in 2014? They finish every year with plenty of money NOT being used. Does that money carry over to the next year? They seem to pay coaches and GMs to go away but not pro bowl players to stay and play. Go Browns. #100yearswar.

-- Frank, Macedonia, OH

Hey Frank: They tried to re-sign Mack but couldn’t come to an agreement. Then came the coaching change and then the front office blowup. This is just another negative that results from constant management changes. There is no cohesive, long-range plan and business and football matters get lost in the constant shuffle.

Hey Tony: You have mentioned in the past that the Browns are sort of modeling their rebuild on that of the Seahawks formula. Elite and intimidating defense. Productive and error-free offense that is heavy on the run and a game manager at QB who is ultra-efficient on 3rd downs in Wilson. Doesn't that rule out Manziel and his carefree style of play add maybe Bortles and his inefficient 3rd down pass percentage in college? I know the chances that we get a Wilson in the third round are slim but I do believe the Seahawks still would have won even with a less productive QB.  Am I reading too much into this? Thanks

-- Eliot Cape Coral, FL

Hey Eliot: Yes, I think you’re reading too much into the Seattle model. You are also vastly under-selling Wilson. He’s much more than a “game manager.” I might point out that defensive-minded coaches (Pete Carroll, Gus Bradley, Mike Pettine) appreciate the problems a “carefree-style” quarterback such as Manziel causes a defense.

Hey Tony: In your mock draft No. 5 you have the Browns taking OT-OG Greg Robinson out of Auburn at number 4, Oakland choosing WR Sammy Watkins at 5, Atlanta selecting LB Khalil Mack at 6 and Tampa going with WR Mike Evans at 7. Would you not consider moving down a few spots for an additional draft pick and still obtain your coveted OT-OG Greg Robinson? How far would we have to move down to obtain an additional second round pick?

-- Joe, Palm Desert, CA

Hey Joe: According to the draft value trade chart, which some teams – but not all – use as a guide, a pick in the middle of the second round is worth about 420 points. Commanding that price tag in a trade would put the Browns in the range of No. 10. Many times you can’t project such a trade; it just happens on the day of the draft, sometimes when you are on the clock.

Hey Tony: Following on from your Mock Draft 5.0, do you get the feeling that because Ray Farmer was parachuted so late into the process that he would prefer to wait until a more “polished” QB class next year (Mariota & Winston) and have a chance to study them properly? As Brian Billick says once you draft a QB in the 1st round the clock starts ticking. Keep up the good work

-- Gerard Fitzgerald, Cork, Ireland

Hey Gerard: No, I don’t believe Farmer’s decisions on a quarterback are related to when or how he was promoted. He was the assistant all of 2013, so he had a good understanding of the team’s assets and needs after he was put in the GM office.

Hey Tony: A lot of the talk is about the Browns looking a Matt Schaub, and it would appear something is going to happen there with their signing of Fitzpatrick, but I am intrigued with what might be going on in New York, with the Jets talking with Vick this weekend. Like the Texans situation, if they bring in somebody in this case Vick, that would appear to leave Mark Sanchez on the market. I think Sanchez would be a better risk than Schaub, younger, more mobile and for a number of guys, once they get outside of New York, there is less of a microscope on them. Your thoughts?

-- George, St. Paul, MN

Hey George: Since your email arrived, Schaub indeed was traded by Houston to Oakland. As for Sanchez, I wouldn’t bother bringing him in – or any veteran QB other than one over 30 with knowledge of the Kyle Shanahan offense (Rex Grossman). I would concentrate on finding the best quarterback in the draft to develop. I would start the season with Brian Hoyer and let him play all year, if he won.

Hey Tony: What about trading back to 7 with Tampa Bay, for Mike Glennon? He wasn’t too bad last year and played in the WCO in college. Hoyer starts, Glennon learns for a few years.

-- Jimmy, Berea, OH

Hey Jimmy: Not interested.

Hey Tony: I’d like to know if there is any possibility that Chris Faulk will be in the mix for a starting offensive line slot. What is his health status? I’ve noticed that he’s on the roster now. I also wonder if there is any hope regarding Jamoris Slaughter. Once they placed them on injured reserve, nothing has been mentioned about them. Faulk was projected as having first round ability before he was injured. Ditto for Slaughter. It would help the Browns substantially if both of these guys could compete for a roster slot. Please advise us of their current status,

-- Carl Noll, Fairfield, CT

Hey Carl: Faulk was highly thought of by the previous regime and probably would have competed for the starting right tackle spot this season. I’m not sure what the current regime thinks of him. Slaughter was not on injured reserve, but rather cut and then re-signed to the practice squad. I believe he was re-signed for 2014, but the Browns have not made that clear. Slaughter was never considered a potential first-round pick – even before his Achilles tendon injury at Notre Dame.

Buster Skrine/Getty

Hey Tony: I keep hearing that we need a #2 corner so that Buster Skrine can cover the slot. While I admit to being frustrated 2 years ago by his 1,724 penalties, the guy really improved last year and the 1,724 coaches and teammates he has had with the Browns all say that he is the hardest worker and most determined guy on the team. Is it too far-fetched to expect continued improvement from him to the point of being a solid #2 corner?

-- Chad, Louisville, KY

Hey Chad: Unfortunately, Skrine’s height will never improve. Someone no doubt will say that Frank Minnifield was just as short and he was an All-Pro cornerback in the 1980s. I would counter by saying there are more receivers nowadays who are much bigger and faster than in Minnifield’s day. Also, Minnifield was a rare, rare athlete who played much bigger than his height. While I’m a fan of Skrine for all the reasons you mention, I think he can be a more productive cornerback and more valuable to the defense by devoting his attention solely to the slot position. It’s too difficult to do both at a high level.

Hey Tony: Are you starting to feel that the Browns are not as high on the top QBs in the draft? It might be a smokescreen, but I think they have a lot of doubts about the big three. Personally, I would grab Bortles at 4, but I wouldn't move up to get him. I'd pick Sammy Watkins or Greg Robinson if Bortles is gone. Both would start and fill needs. Carr, Garoppolo, McCarron or Murray could all be better pro QBs than the big three and will be available later. Bridgewater and Manziel seem so risky at pick 4 with all of the elite talent that will be on the board. Tony, if you were GM, which QBs would you be willing to select at the fourth pick?

-- Rick, Shreveport, LA

Hey Rick: The only quarterback I would pick at No. 4 – at this time – is Bortles. I reserve the right to change my mind.

Hey Tony: Listening to your first radio show, congratulations by the way, and I just heard the Ben Tate interview. Right at the end of the interview you asked Ben for some word associations. At first I thought, "what is this guy doing? Word associations? What, Grossi's a psychiatrist now?" But then the interview proceeded and I thought it was interesting that Ben Tate identified Andre Johnson as a "beast," Kubiak as a "coach," and Schaub as a "quarterback." It didn't sound like Ben thought much of Schaub and Kubiak or at least didn't think they were all that great. Very interesting I thought. Do you think this is how Ben perceives them? Are these results/answers/insight that you anticipated from word associations?

-- Tom, Bath, OH

Hey Tom: I thought the answers were interesting, too, and that is why I decided to leave them in the segment. I agree with you. My perception was Tate didn’t have a lot of good things to say about Schaub and Kubiak and that is the reason he answered the way he did. I am intending to do more word associations for the weekly Hey Tony interview.

Hey Tony: Congrats on the new show. It will be a must-listen for my Wednesday morning commutes down here (where the snow stopped a month ago). Have you heard anything from Joe Thomas since the end of the season? He was uncharacteristically (but understandably) absent from the locker room after the Chud debacle. If all the mess wore down DQ, it has to have done the same with him. Have you had the chance to talk with him and get a sense of his thinking?

-- David, Joelton, TN

Hey David: The constant losing beats down everybody, let me tell you. Many players in that locker room will jump at the chance to play for a winner (T.J. Ward, D’Qwell Jackson, etc.) because of the constant management/coaching turnover. Thomas, though, has tasted success, in 2007. He also is a different breed than the rest. I wouldn’t say Thomas is content, but he is able to function at a high level without letting the losing drag him down. If it were up to him, I believe he would play his whole career in Cleveland.

Hey Tony: Do the salaries paid to the rookies drafted in May count against this years' cap?

-- Michael, Sugarloaf, PA

Hey Michael: Yes. That is why all teams have to reserve space under the cap to fit the first-year salary cap figures of their rookie draft class.

Hey Tony: Was wondering if you might have any insight into what the Browns might plan on doing with Greg Little. With the signing of Hawkins for the slot do you think there is still room from Greg? With all they invested him I'd hate to see him go. I think this guy’s expectations were always a little too high given he was a running back and he'd be top flight back up when they select someone to be the WR2. 

-- David, Old Brooklyn, OH

Hey David: Little has a few things going for him that would strongly discourage the Browns from removing him from the roster at this time. 1. His contract: There are no balloon payments or inordinate salaries to trigger a roster decision. He is in the final year of his rookie contract, which means he is playing at the fourth-year minimum salary. 2. His size: He passes the eye test of every new coach that comes into Berea. Every coach sees Little and thinks, “Wow. I can make something out of that.” 3. His health: Little has proved to be durable. Unlike other Browns receivers of recent vintage (e.g. Mohamed Massaquoi), he answers the bell. In sum, there is no reason not to bring him to another camp and hope the light comes on.

 

Tony Grossi covers the Browns for ESPN 850 WKNR, ESPN 1540 KNR2 and www.espncleveland.com.

He has covered the Browns with distinction since 1984 and is one of 46 voters for the National Football League Hall of Fame. Use the hastage #HeyTony on Twitter or email your “Hey Tony” questions to tgrossi@espncleveland.com

Follow Tony on Twitter @tonygrossi

 

 

 

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