Paul Kruger knows who he wants leading the Browns this year — and it’s not Johnny F’ing Football.
During an appearance on 1320 KFAN in Salt Lake City, the veteran linebacker threw his support behind Brian Hoyer to win the starting quarterback job.
“Me personally, I mean obviously that’s up to the staff and coaches so they’ll make that decision,” Kruger said, per Profootballtalk.com. “But in my mind, [Brian] Hoyer’s the guy. Hoyer came in, won us four games, unfortunately got hurt. But the guy was on fire when he was healthy. He’s proven himself at different levels and has worked extremely hard.”
Not to burst Kruger’s bubble, but Hoyer technically won only two starts last season, against the Vikings and Bengals. He suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the first quarter of the team’s win over the Bills.
That being said, Kruger’s confidence in Hoyer is valid. When thrust into action, replacing the underwhelming Brandon Weeden, the sixth-year signal-caller (and Ohio native) energized a Browns club that was lacking direction. His impressive audition, however, didn’t do enough to sway Cleveland, who selected Johnny Manziel with the 22nd overall pick in last month’s draft.
Though popular logic indicates Manziel will start, Kruger sees it as an even competition — one that will rage on through August.
“In my mind, Hoyer has been a good leader for us and, you know, somebody who has been able to win us some games,” Kruger said. “So it’s tough to say but I think the preseason will be a big deal for both of them.”
Under new coordinator Kyle Shanahan, both Hoyer and Manziel are learning a new offense, giving neither an advantage at this stage in the offseason. As is usually the case, the battle will be decided in training camp and the preseason, like Kruger said.
It’s in the best interest of the Browns that the better — not the most-hyped — quarterback ultimately winds up under center.
(Photo credit: Jason Miller/Getty Images)