While NFL insiders analyze Mike Pettine's no brainer decision to start Brian Hoyer over Johnny Football Hoyer's former coach and current Colts assistant Rob Chudzinski is bringing the bad karma of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's old front office into Sunday's clash at the Lakefront.
Fired and scapegoated in January by then-Browns president Joe Banner and general manager Mike Lombardi for his sharing and caring attitude inside and outside the locker room, Chud was replaced as head coach by Mike Pettine, the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator who has a politically correct vertical leadership style and refers to the team as "they," not "we" or "us."
On rare occasion, when referring to players who are out for the season, Pettine praises their contribution to "our" team.
Pettine is big on mental toughness as a motivator for the Browns. But so is Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, who beat the odds against acute promyelocytic leukemia and runs his team like it's his family, not part of Browns owner Jimmy Haslam's $33 billion money machine.
In a down economy, Forbes rates the Browns current value at $1.12 billion. The Colts, owned by Jim Irsay, are valued at $1.4 billion.
With input, from Pettine the Browns released popular middle linebacker D'Qwell Jackson, thinking he was too old, too expensive and too banged up.
The Colts signed him in May to a four-year, $22 million contract with $11 million guaranteed. He comes into Sunday's game at FirstEnergy Stadium as the AFC Defensive Player of the Week. With Karlos Dansby hurting and on the bubble for seeing limited action Sunday, Cleveland could use someone of Jackson's stature.
Described by Pagano as a "fearless" kick returner and two-time Pro Bowler, Josh Cribbs was just signed by Indianapolis. A long time favorite with Dawg Pound fans, Cribbs will have plenty of chances to return punts for touchdowns for the Colts if the Browns don't get their running game going early.
Hit by running back attrition Pettine is putting the run game into the hands of Terrance West, whose chronic fumbling has helped the team lose games and give the Browns Cinderella team status in the scribbles of several TV and online sports analysts,
Containing the Colts' sputtering running game bodes well for a Browns victory and respect beyond Cinderella team status.
Perennial underachiever Trent Richardson, who was dealt to the Colts for a first round draft pick by Banner and Lombardi, has been given the starting nod by Indianapolis coach Chuck Pagano not because of his performance, but because "he's our starting running back."
Hoyer has the respect of Pettine and his locker room because Manziel takes too many risks and can't run offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's scheme beyond a wrist band offense.Hoyer's downside is that he's a perfectionist, the most openly self-introspective -- and potentially self-destructive -- quarterback in the history of the modern NFL.
Brett Favre and Tom Brady, both "cult of the quarterback" icons, have praised Hoyer's gutty work ethic. CBS Sports, meanwhile, has reported that Hoyer's wife "can't stand to be around him" when the Browns lose.
With Hoyer slated to start on Sunday, maybe he needs to see a tape of how Chuck Pagano and Andrew Luck treat each other like family then go out and win the game. Maybe Mike Pettine and Browns GM Ray Farmer need to see it too because winning requires pulling together like a family, and family is a big part of what the NFL is about.