Chudzinski: Hoyer gives Browns best chance to win

CLEVELAND – Brian Hoyer gives hope to every person working in low-level management that one day they might leapfrog to the top of the company.

Last Monday Hoyer was the Browns third-string quarterback. Tuesday morning he was informed by coach Rob Chudzinski that he will start Sunday when the Browns play on the road against the Minnesota Vikings.

“It’s funny, when you get told that news all you think about is preparing,” said Hoyer, a North Olmsted native and Cleveland St. Ignatius graduate. “You’re thinking about the gameplan and how we can attack them. Your mind is constantly thinking about it.”

The news that Hoyer will start for an injured Brandon Weeden (sprained right thumb) was surprising only because he was the third quarterback in both of the first two games. When Weeden was hurt late in the fourth quarter of the 14-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens, Jason Campbell was first off the bench.

Chudzinski said the decision was his, but you’d have to think that CEO Joe Banner and General Manager Michael Lombardi played roles in making the call. During his time as a contributor to the “NFL Network,” Lombardi always spoke highly of Hoyer.

“I think Hoyer has all the traits you need, in terms of leadership, toughness, arm strength, ability to move the team,” Lombardi once said.

The move could pave the way to Weeden’s permanent departure as the Browns starting quarterback. If the management team that didn’t select him in the first round of the 2012 draft doesn’t believe he’s the guy (which seems likely), Hoyer could remain the starter even after Weeden’s thumb is fully healed.

Chudzinski added fuel to that conjecture by not committing to Weeden after he recovers from the injury. Chudzinski was reminded that he was the Browns offensive coordinator in 2007 when quarterback Charlie Frye was benched after a terrible performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the opener. Derek Anderson got the call in week two, and he led the way to an 10-6 record and a near playoff appearance.

“It’s evident that a change can be good,” Chudzinski said. “It remains to be seen how Brian plays. I expect him to play well. Everything I do and all the decisions I make always revolve around giving us the best chance to win.”

That includes this week. Although Campbell was Weeden’s number one backup during training camp, Chudzinski obviously feels it’s necessary to go with Hoyer, who has one career start (last year with the Arizona Cardinals) compared to 71 for Campbell.

“It’s more the fit of what we need for this particular week,” Chudzinski said. “There wasn’t a lot of separation between all three of those guys. I have a lot of confidence in all of them. What I want to do is give us the best chance to win and put the guys out there that give us the best chance to win this week.”

Weeden made a brief appearance in the locker room before practice. He expressed confidence that Hoyer will play well, but he was caught off guard when informed that Chudzinski wouldn’t commit to him beyond the injury.

“I don’t worry about that,” Weeden said.

Weeden, who has a brace on his right hand, will see a specialist today. Chudzinski said he doesn’t believe the injury will be a long-term situation.

Needless to say, Weeden is upset about not getting a chance to continue working through the problems that plagued the offense the first two weeks. Weeden has a 62 passer rating on 47-of-86 (54.7 percent) for 516 yards, one touchdown and three interceptions.

“You never want to get hurt,” Weeden said. “I don’t care when it is, the first game or the 16th game. As players we want to be out there. It’s frustrating. Offensively we were starting to do some better things. I want to be out there with my guys.”

There are no guarantees that will ever happen again.