Somewhere along the way, “game manager” became a knock on an NFL quarterback.
Though that’s the language Houston Texans safety D.J. Swearinger used on Sunday when talking about Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer, it’s clear that Swearinger has respect for Hoyer’s ability.
“He’s a game manager,” Swearinger said. “I say he manages the game for them. He’s the best quarterback for that system.”
(Incidentally, that system, designed by offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, isn’t all that different from the one that used to be run in Houston.)
“He doesn’t turn the ball over. Run, run, play action. He has a nice arm on him, so we’re going to have to get him off his spot, make him uncomfortable and stop the run game.”
Despite Hoyer’s reputation, he’s actually thrown deep quite often this season, and with much success. This season, Hoyer throws have traveled 20 yards or more downfield 14.1 percent of the time, fifth-most in the NFL. On those throws, Hoyer has a 56.4 accuracy percentage (accounts for throw aways and dropped passes), second best in football.
It’s a surprising stat, especially for an offense that features and aged Miles Austin and a number of shorter, smaller receivers like Andrew Hawkins and Taylor Gabriel, both of whom stand under 5-foot-8.
Either way, Hoyer’s best asset this season has been, as Swearinger noted, his carefulness with the football. Hoyer has thrown only four interceptions this season and hasn’t lost a fumble. It’s among the many reasons Cleveland is fast approaching a tough decision surrounding Hoyer, whose contract expires at the end of the season, and Johnny Manziel, who was drafted No. 22 overall this spring.
Strange as it sounds, the way Hoyer has been playing — stretching the field consistently and effectively with deep balls while not turning over the football — is kind of what the Texans are hoping for in Ryan Mallett, who makes his first NFL start Sunday.
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