Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

From the editor’s notebook …

hoyer starting quarterbackCleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine made if official earlier today, naming Brian Hoyer as the team’s starting quarterback.

The decision ends what we can only hope was not an ill-fated quarterback competition between Hoyer and rookie Johnny Manziel. Now Hoyer can work exclusively to get not only himself but the offense ready for the season-opener on Sept. 7 against Pittsburgh.

“(Brian) was the clear leader from the beginning,” Pettine said in announcing the decision. “We’ve maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room.”

Pettine probably made the right call (we’re pretty sure he did, but we won’t know until the season starts). Even though it is only a few games, Hoyer has more experience running an NFL offense than Manziel. Hopefully having him play most of Saturday’s preseason friendly against St. Louis, combined with giving him all the first-team reps in practice from here on out, will help him shake off the rust from not having played since injuring his knee last October.

At least we hope it is rust, and not the pressure of competing with Manziel, that has been the cause of Hoyer’s poor play so far in the preseason. (Although a compelling argument can be made that his teammates haven’t made life any easier for Hoyer.)

It’s also probably the right call because Manziel is reportedly still not up to speed on the playbook. If that is true, we can’t help but wonder how much of it is attributed to offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan making things overly complicated by having play calls that can be 17 words long. In an accelerated NFL where head coach Chip Kelly relays plays by using a series of hand signals, Shanahan’s system can come off as a bit antiquated.

Hoyer is now the starter, but for how long?

“This is Brian’s job. I never think of it as whether it’s a leash or we want a guy to be a game manager,” Pettine said. “We want him to be confident and go out and play.”

That sounds good, but today’s decision only delays the inevitable – Manziel will eventually be the starting quarterback for the Browns. It could be after the bye in Week 4; it could come in Week 7 when the Browns take on a weak Jacksonville team; or it may not come until next season.

We hope that Hoyer doesn’t make it easy on Pettine to make a switch this season. But if he does and Pettine inserts Manziel as the starter, there can be no going back.

Pettine’s made his call. Now it’s time for everyone to get back to work.

Sad day for Kent State

kent state bitskoHorrible news today out of Kent State, where starting center Jason Bitsko passed away from an undetermined medical issue.

Bitsko, 21, was set to begin his fourth year on the Golden Flashes football team. He started all 12 games in 2013 and was recently selected to the Phil Steele’s Preseason All-MAC Third Team.

“Kent State University and the entire Kent community mourns his passing,” Director of Athletics Joel Nielsen said in a news release. “We are heartbroken by the news of Jason’s death. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, teammates and everyone whose lives he touched.”

“Our players, coaches and everyone involved with our team are hurting because he was family,” said head coach Paul Haynes. “”As a team, we will come together and get through this one day at a time.”

Our thoughts go out to Bitsko’s family.

No big loss for the Tribe

Nick+Swisher+Cleveland+Indians+v+Minnesota+DIPqAEf9VfllThe Cleveland Indians announced on Wednesday that Nick Swisher will undergo arthroscopic surgery on both his knees and miss the rest of the season.

Swisher has been a disappointment all season, batting just 208 with eight home runs, 42 RBI and a career-worst .608 OPS in 97 games, so no need for him to rush back, really.

Since signing the highest-priced contract in franchise history prior to last season, Swisher has batted just .231, while hitting 30 home runs and driving in 105 RBI.

All for the low, low price of $70 million over the length of the contract. The deal was bad to begin with and it has only descended from there into the worst free-agent contract in team history.

With Swisher joining David Murphy and Ryan Raburn on the disabled list, four of the nine players that filled out the Tribe’s Opening Day lineup, along with starting pitcher Justin Masterson, are no longer on the team’s active roster.

Yet, somehow, the Tribe is only 4.5 games out of the second Wild Card slot heading into Wednesday night’s game against Minnesota.

(Photos courtesy of clevelandbrowns.com, kentstatesports.com and Getty Images)

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