Browns' Hoyer takes loss hard, vows bounce back
BEREA, Ohio (AP) From toast of the town to toasted.
Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer has had quite the week.
Praised for his performance in an emotional win at home last week over Pittsburgh, Hoyer has spent the past few days under attack - most of it coming from fans and media who feel popular rookie Johnny Manziel should be starting - following Sunday's 24-6 loss to previously winless Jacksonville.
Hoyer completed just 16 of 41 passes, couldn't get Cleveland's offense moving against an inspired Jaguars defense and had the worst game of his NFL career.
It was bad, no denying that. But it wasn't all Hoyer's fault, not by a long stretch. Hoyer was playing behind an offensive line missing Pro Bowl center Alex Mack, and Jacksonville's defensive front was dominant, shutting down the Browns' running game.
Hoyer felt he could have done more and he's been plenty tough on himself. The 29-year-old understands there's nothing he can do about it now but play better this Sunday against Oakland.
''There's overreaction when you win and overreaction when you lose, especially at quarterback,'' he said. ''When you win, you're the hero. When you lose, you're the goat. ... it comes with the territory.''
Hoyer has never taken a loss as poorly, joking that even his wife, Lauren, couldn't bear to live with him the past few days.
''She doesn't want to be around me when we win, too,'' he said, smiling.
Hoyer isn't naive about his situation. He's in the final year of his contract, and although he has shown signs in nine starts of developing into the team's franchise QB, nothing is guaranteed. Face it, the Browns didn't draft Manziel in the first round to have him stand on the sideline forever.
Hoyer has been around long enough to know that quarterbacks can have bad games.
''It happens to the best,'' he said. ''Three weeks ago everyone was saying Tom Brady is done with. He's the greatest quarterback of all-time and he had one bad game and people are throwing him under the bus. When you see that even the great ones have bad games, you know you're going to have a few. So for me, of all the games I've ever played, that's the worst I've ever felt after one and it's something you have to deal with - learning on the job.''
Browns coach Mike Pettine said the team is ''firmly'' behind Hoyer. Pettine and Hoyer have developed a trust in each other, a bond that began last season when Pettine, then Buffalo's defensive coordinator, wrote a letter to Hoyer after the quarterback tore knee ligaments while playing against the Bills.
They are in sync, and Hoyer believes that Pettine is being honest with him.
''I don't doubt that he has my back,'' Hoyer said. ''I also know that if you have one bad game I don't think that people are just going to be calling for your job already, that's just the way it goes. But I know within this building I feel more than comfortable.''
Pettine reiterated that Hoyer didn't get much help Sunday. The Browns had breakdowns everywhere, not just at quarterback.
''All the guys know on offense that they didn't play well enough for the offense to be successful, which was a big part in making his performance look the way that it did,'' he said. ''To me, it's a ripple effect throughout when you're not playing at a high level around him.''
Browns wide receiver Miles Austin said the attacks on Hoyer are unfair.
''To put a loss on any one individual is absolutely crazy,'' he said. ''There's a lot of things we all could've done better. We have to lean on each other, help each other out and that's why it's a team sport. That's why it's the greatest sport, because it takes all 11 guys - as cliche as it might sound.''
Maybe it has helped Hoyer that he knows the psyche of Cleveland fans. Growing up a Browns fan conditioned him to understand the quarterback always takes the hits - positive and negative.
''You worry about what you can control and that's what's going on in this building and the outside noise you just try to block out - good or bad,'' he said. ''Sometimes you can get caught up when people are patting you on the back and it feels good, and yeah, maybe you want to check what they're saying.
''But if you're going to do that you better be able to take it when they're saying bad stuff, too.''
NOTES: Pettine has not decided if he'll make changes to the offensive line. RG John Greco played center last week, but could move back if C Nick McDonald is ready to play. He recently returned after undergoing wrist surgery. ... DE Ahtyba Rubin (ankle) practiced after missing the previous two games and DB K'Waun Williams is back after missing last week with a concussion.
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