Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

People forget how good Brian Hoyer was as a starter for the Cleveland Browns

At 10-6 in 16 starts, Brian Hoyer has the highest winning percentage of any quarterback in Cleveland Browns history.  Seriously. 

In 1996, the original Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens.  For three seasons, Cleveland didn’t have a football team.  In 1999, the NFL added an expansion team called the Browns and pretended they were still the original franchise.  Since their inception 21 years ago, the new Cleveland Browns have been the model of failure in professional sports.  Two winning seasons, one postseason appearance, no playoff wins, 30 starting quarterbacks.

Hoyer spent his first three years in the league as Tom Brady’s backup before going to Arizona in 2012 and then Cleveland in 2013.  The Browns’ starter Brandon Weeden injured his thumb in Week 2 of ’13, giving the five-year pro his first real shot to prove himself.  Hoyer led the Browns to three straight wins to get them over .500 at 3-2 before suffering a season-ending ACL tear in his third start.  Cleveland didn’t win another game the rest of the year.

In 2014, Hoyer returned and won back the starting job over rookie Johnny Manziel.  He led the Browns to a 7-4 record through the first 11 games, including the largest road comeback in NFL history at Tennessee in Week 5.  He was on thin ice due to the hype surrounding Johnny Football, so when he lost three out of four games at the end of the season, Manziel took over.  Not a wise coaching decision, as the Browns would go 4-44 over the next three seasons.

The next stop was Houston, where Hoyer went 5-4 in nine starts, winning four of his final six games to help the Texans win the AFC South.  With the Bears in 2016, he threw for six touchdowns, no interceptions, and had a QB rating of 98.0 in five starts, but the team went 1-4 over that span.

Hoyer’s most recent stint as a starting quarterback didn’t go so well.  The 49ers went 0-6 with him at the helm in 2017, then proceeded to win five in a row after Jimmy Garoppolo arrived.  That’s when the veteran journeyman made his way back to New England and his familiar position behind Tom Brady.  Now, in the sixth season of his career spent with the Patriots, the 34 year-old will make his first start for the team following the news of Cam Newton testing positive for Covid-19.  Whether we get the Cleveland Brian Hoyer or the San Francisco Brian Hoyer remains to be seen, but his time with the Browns is the best example of what he’s capable of when he’s at the top of his game.

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