Huffpost Sports

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Eric Ehrmann Headshot

Memo to Browns: Start Connor Shaw on Saturday

Posted: Updated:

Facing a divided locker room the Cleveland Browns need to look beyond the bruised egos of uninspired signal callers Brian Hoyer and Johnny Manziel and give Connor Shaw the home field start against the St. Louis Rams on Saturday.

Although coach Mike Pettine has named Hoyer as the opening day starter against Pittsburgh, the undrafted free agent out of South Carolina is the only quarterback on the team who has shown the passion required to win the job.

Playing in the SEC along with Manziel, Shaw chalked up three eleven game winning seasons under coach Steve Spurrier at South Carolina. The ball coach says Shaw is the total package.

At Forbes, sports writer Marc Heisler says that Shaw's performance against the Redskins could turn the Browns quarterback competition into a three way race.

And in Washington, which shares with Cleveland the honor of having the most head coaching changes since 1999 (eight), local media is calling for the Browns to start Shaw.

What NFL insiders and those down the food chain aren't saying is that local hero Brian Hoyer came to Cleveland as a favorite of Mike Lombardi, the front office man with ties to the Art Modell era who Browns fans loved to hate.

Lombardi was fired as Browns general manager in February by then team president Joe Banner. Owner Jimmy Haslam then turned around and fired Banner.

General manager Ray Farmer and head coach Mike Pettine are the last Banner-era hires standing after Haslam's pre-St. Valentine's Day Massacre.

Farmer contacted Connor Shaw on Draft Day to inform him that he was selected by the Browns as an undrafted free agent and that a private jet would pick him up the next morning. Since then there has been very little information put out by Farmer, the Insiders or Cleveland sports bloggers about the status of Shaw. His outstanding performance against the Redskins on Monday night, unfortunately, did not change that.

The big news on the Cleveland quarterback competition is as cloudy as the algae that are threatening Lake Erie. Rex Grossman has been picked up from the Redskins, ostensibly to help mentor Manziel.

Since offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's system is similar to what he developed for the Redskins before moving to the Browns Grossman's knowledge of the playbook could prove to be an asset. So far, however, the journeyman who started on the losing side of the 2006 Super Bowl for the Chicago Bears hasn't improved Manziel's play.

When the Manziel vs. Hoyer quarterback controversy erupted last month head coach Mike Pettine noted how San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick broke into the league and talked about using Manzeil in a "wildcat" package because Johnny is "a much better passer than Tebow." But Tebow, now a free agent, can't show off his passing skills because no NFL team has picked him up.

So far Hoyer and Manziel have not been paired in the "wildcat" package and nobody with a football IQ is asking why.

Rumors swirled recently when the Houston Texans denied on Twitter that they were interested in Hoyer, raising speculation that the Browns front office might be engaged in back channel contacts to move their projected underperforming game one starter.

Hoyer is into the second year of a two year deal with the Browns, inked while Banner, Lombardi and Chud were with the team, which doesn't pay starter money. Effectively, his quick study skillsets made him the perfect insurance policy for Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell who are no longer with the team..

Ironically, it was Buffalo's tough Mike Pettine defense last season that put the clean hit on Hoyer that damaged an ACL and ended his two games of glory.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has told media that he wants to keep Hoyer as a starter and give him a salary increase. But Hoyer's agent, Joe Linta, prefers to hold off on dealmaking until Thanksgiving, when teams in the hunt are looking for quality talent to avoid quarterback attrition.

Right now Hoyer's dull play makes him look like he knows he will become the odd man out in Brownstown in spite of getting starter status.

Manziel has compensated for his slow learning curve by using his mobility to make plays and has been taking a lot of hits during preseason as a result.

But beyond the hype and doublespeak, Johnny Manziel lacks the body size and attitude of Michael Vick of the Jets, who, at age 34, has come back from adversity and can still bring it.

With the NFL already facing a "quiet investigation" from the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency Manziel's antics come at a bad time for the league's reputation, and for the Browns franchise too.

Browns owner Jimmy Haslam reportedly told general manager Mike Farmer to "pull the trigger" and draft the two time Heisman winner from College Station. But with Manziel's hard partying and flipping the bird at the Redskins Haslam might have shot himself in the foot instead.

With the locker room divided over Hoyer and Manziel, it's time to shake things up and give Connor Shaw a shot with the first team on Saturday.

From Our Partners