The Cincinnati Bengals could find themselves in the middle of a quarterback controversy by proxy this week as they prepare to head to Cleveland to face a Browns team weighing the options of sticking with Brian Hoyer or giving rookie Johnny Manziel his first NFL start.
Hoyer was 15 of 23 for 198 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions in a 24-3 victory at Cincinnati on Nov. 6, a win that moved the Browns into first place in the AFC North Division.
But in the four games since then, Cleveland has gone 1-3 with Hoyer completing 49.7 percent of his passes while throwing one touchdown and eight interceptions for a passer rating of 55.0. That has led to increased calls for Manziel to start Sunday’s game, but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he can’t concern himself with the guessing game.
“We’ve got to pretend that Hoyer is the guy,” Lewis said.
Manziel replaced Hoyer two weeks ago in a 26-10 loss at Buffalo and went 5 of 8 for 63 yards and ran for a 10-yard touchdown.
Browns coach Mike Pettine went back to Hoyer for Sunday’s home game and Indianapolis, and Hoyer went 14 of 31 for 140 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions for a passer rating of 31.7.
Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton said he sympathizes with Hoyer, but isn’t concerned about the situation.
“He’s done some good things for them, but that’s all their decision,” Dalton said. “I’ve got nothing to do with that.”