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Browns reportedly plan to stick with Brian Hoyer over Johnny Manziel

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Despite a massive amount of conjecture, speculation and hearsay, mostly prompted by Johnny Manziel’s insertion into last Sunday’s 26-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills in relief of a struggling Brian Hoyer, the Cleveland Browns intend to stick with the guy who got them here and reportedly will start Hoyer against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

The news originally was reported by FOX Sports Jay Glazer.

Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot provided additional reporting on the breaking news Wednesday morning, stating that Browns head coach Mike Pettine “huddled up with Shanahan, quarterbacks coach Dowell Loggains and general manager Ray Farmer to make the decision, which he acknowledged was a very difficult one.”

Glazer also reported via Twitter that Hoyer  had widespread support inside the locker room” and that the decision to stick with him was a “[n]o brainer according to players in there.”

The Browns issued a press release following Glazer’s reporting acknowledging that Hoyer is the guy on Sunday (via Waiting For Next Year):

“After thorough evaluation and talking to the staff, we feel Brian gives us the best opportunity to win on Sunday,” Pettine said via press release.  “This is a football decision and those are always going to be based on what we think is best for our team. Brian has led our team to a 7-5 record. I’m confident that we can get the entire offense playing at the level needed to accomplish the goals we set at the beginning of the season. Those goals are still very much attainable.”

Hoyer has led the Browns to a somewhat surprising 7-5 record but has seen his play trail off of late. In his last three games, two losses to Houston Texans and Buffalo Bills sandwiched around a win over the Atlanta Falcons, Hoyer has six interceptions and only one touchdown. He was a woeful 20-50 passing in the 23-7 loss to the Texans three weeks ago, although his completion percentage improved in his next two games, but his overall play did not. Hoyer also is dead-last in completion percentage on the season.

Despite his struggles of late, as noted in Cabot’s report, Hoyer passionately defended his position as the team’s starting quarterback on Monday.

“We’re 7-5,” he said. “This just doesn’t happen by luck. It was hard-earned, and we’ve worked to get where we’re at. We’re still in it. With those other teams losing yesterday, we have four more games. Two of them are division games.

“You don’t get to 7-5 in the NFL just lucking into it. 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. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be ready to go.”

Manziel, though, did provide a noticeable spark when he came in relief of Hoyer during Sunday’s loss to the Bills, rushing for a touchdown and adding an element of athletic dynamism to the position.

But the Browns coaching staff apparently felt that Hoyer has proved himself sufficiently to warrant one more shot at starting. If he does not play well on Sunday against the Colts, expect the Manziel talk to ramp up once again. Actually, expect the Manziel talk to continue throughout the balance of the season, no matter how well Hoyer may play.

The Browns obviously have some critical decisions to make in the offseason regarding the quarterback position, what with Hoyer’s uncertain contract status only being amplified by a raw talent like Manziel waiting in the wings. But for now, it looks like — again — that the starting QB spot is Hoyer’s to lose. For now.