More Hoyer, more YAC: the Bengals game tape.

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Taylor Mays is powerless against the perfection that is the Brian Hoyer back-shouldering, high-pointing, fast-releasing
delivery to Jordan Cameron.  (Click to witness full glory.)

As compelling as a one game tape review of Brian Hoyer was in demonstrating the folly of drafting magic beans at #4 when our long regional nightmare can be not just over but addressed by a bona fide hometown hero… the discerning Kanick readers are looking for more:

I simply haven’t seen enough of Hoyer to form a solid opinion one way or another, and if we have a chance to get a guy who has a higher ceiling, …


The open question is whether Hoyer’s quick ball release is dependent on jumping reads like this, whether he can keep the pace but still react in that last split second, pull a ball like that back, and make the defense pay for going off-script.


while he may be a nice quarterback it seems unlikely that he will be the guy to lead the Browns to any real success.


I just can’t get over the fact that Hoyer was cut by two different teams.


Did you know he has local ties?

Fair enough.  Understandable for Browns fans to be skeptical, we haven’t seen a good QB wearing the iconic helmet di tutti helmets since Vinny Greenballs.  History demands that we prescribe the Hoyer praise.  Sane Browns fans will allow no commit further than Brian Hoyer is Jake Delhomme without the sprained ankle; possible ceiling of Kelly Holcomb + Jeff Garcia.

Is Hoyer good in his own right or is it just a “tallest dwarf” thing, i.e., we can already affirm that he’s better than (click for list).1

Or…  what if Hoyer really is the quarterback we saw for two games last year?

It’s a question worth asking and I’m a-askin.

We have the Vikings game sequel, home versus the Bengals to review today.  Spoiler alert:  Hoyer looks good again.  Not perfect, but looks like a QB that could get you to the playoffs and even win you a game or two there.  As we did in the last post, I have an annotated screen capture of NFL’s Game Rewind and placed it in my dropbox share.  Access it here (1st half) and here (2nd half).2  You’ll find most of Hoyer’s pass plays, coaches film highlights of big plays, and random items of interest to me are highlighted.

Game setup/Overview.

After winning with three turnovers in the prior week against the Vikings, there seems a conscious decision to go more ball-control and to eliminate turnovers versus the Bengals.  Rush plays are way up with 30 versus the Bengals (compared to 17 vs. Vikes) and contributing 89 yards but, importantly, Browns won time-of-possession 31 minutes to 29.  Hoyer’s line is very impressive:  25-38, 247 yds, 2 TDs, 0 INT.  Browns converted 9 of 18 3rd downs.  Very efficient offense.  (Defense was huge also.)

Drive-by-drive log.


Great catch? Bad cover? Savvy underthrow? Hey. 30 yd completion.

Here’s a recap my takes of the drives.

Drive #1, 3 and out.

#2, 12 play, 95 yd, TD.
Ball control passing highlighted by very crisp execution on Benjamin screen, Bess drag route, and Cameron back-shoulder TD.

#3, missed FG.
About the silly Gordon catch over Pacman Jones, I say in defense of the seeming under thrown jump ball:

  1. Maybe Hoyer saw DB back was turned;
  2. Maybe Hoyer trusts Gordon to be awesome;
  3. Since it was third down, a pick would have been effectively equal to a 30 yard, net, punt.

Hoyer takes no chances once in the red zone; FG should have been a bunny.

#4, 3 out.

#5,3 missed (long) FG.
A nice two minute drill drive.  Moved team 61 yards right before half and even though missed FG, kept the Bengals off the field.4  Really liked the five yard completion with no timeouts which brought FG try to 50 yds.


Bullet dodging here. Iloka drop allows Browns FG.

#6 (3rd quarter).
Mack gets a (questionable) cut block penalty, then another penalty was declined, and it was very Browns-y way to convert a Bengals turnover.

#7, FG.
There’s a bad pass to Cameron that Iloka should have picked (see photo at right and click to enlarge).  Manage to get inside red-zone then go backwards.  Greco overmatched by Atkins.

#8, 3/out.
Another Atkins over Greco sack.

Drive #9, super-terrific 12 play, 91 yard, 6:37 minute, game clinching TD drive.
We never see these around here.  Strange is that Browns hadn’t run ball all day (30 yards total) and they get 27 rush yards on this drive.  Very nice seam-reading on the key Cameron pass/catch.  Pretty perfect one yard TD pass.

Browns in clock killing mode after Dalton gets picked.  We see the second bad Boyer slide of the day and a foreshadow of the Bills game.

More YAC.

As he did last week, Hoyer delivers the ball fast and on-target and in-stride allowing them chances to make plays in space.  Hoyer’s YAC numbers are good again:  I charted 10 passes with notable running after reception and a total of 112 yards after catch.  That’s up from the already good 9 passes, 90 yards in the Vikings game.

It’s precision passing.  Kosar and Sipe did this and did it in Cleveland without cannon arms.  (Take that, Tony ‘You Must Have a Strong Arm the AFC North’ Grossi.)  However, I don’t see flutter-balls.  I don’t see any problems getting the ball to his targets outside the numbers.  On the contrary, his out-routes are money.  See PFF chart below.  Hoyer is 4 for 4/1TD on short outs left; 3 for 4/1TD short outs right; 10 for 12 short over the middle.  I guess you could say he didn’t stretch the field but I would counter with why should he stretch the field when he’s 17 for 20/2 TDs with short balls?

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For DCs: no tendencies to sink your teeth into.



Dare to dream.  We’ve got a QB who can read a defense and get rid of the ball.  There’s no directional tendency.  (Remember how Colt McCoy threw right and only right?)  Like Tom Brady, his favorite receiver seems to be the one who is open.  His pass distro goes like this:

  • Gordon 17+9+1 =27
  • Bess 10+5+2 =17
  • Cameron 9+12 =21
  • Little 8+1+1 =10

All of which brings me back to the original premise:  I think the idea that there’s a college QB in the draft who will give you more than Hoyer.  And I mean ever.  How many big, talented, athletic QBs master the craftsmanship of quarterback as well Hoyer seems to have it now?  Not many.  Here’s a link to first round QBs and I’d say one in five own the nuances listed above as well Hoyer did in these two games.

My Hoyer report card for measurables not found this weekend in Indy:

Decision-making under pressure:  B
Looks poised to me.  His bad passes weren’t due to pressure; they were just bad passes by themselves.

Pocket presence:  B
He’ll stand in maybe a tad longer than he should, but generally has a good sense when pocket is collapsing.  Sacks were of the ‘never had a chance’ variety.

Accuracy:  A-
Most balls are right between the numbers; misses are deliberate or placed where d-back can’t pick.


I think I’m taking Hoyer over these first rounders and most first round QBs.

Not getting his receivers killed over the middle:  A
No receivers were crushed due to stretching for balls in face of d-backs in these two games.  This is a biggie.

Read/release:  A
Among leaders in average time-to-pass.

Gunslinging tendency:  C
Might have to live a bad turnover now and then… kinda like the Broncos do with Peyton.

Arm strength:  B
Not seeing any evidence that he can’t throw an out; needs to step into throw to get ball downfield.


Other notes:

  1. Bobby Rainey was clearly a good RB on a team featuring Willis McGahee.  His cutting was stupid.  There was enough tape to know better.  Big fail for Banner-Lombardi.
  2. Chud and/or Norv out coached Marvin Lewis in this game.  The plan was smart and executed well.  The coup de grâce drive was beautiful in-game adjustment.  Someone in the coaches’ booth decided the time was right to run it down their throats.  Canning this staff was a blunder.  I am not sanguine about Pettine.  I lean pessimistic that he and his staff will be as good as Chud and his.

Already gents, let’s hear your takes.


(We’ll try to embed for the time being but I don’t expect this to stay up indefinitely.)


  1. Hoyer’s arm could fall off and his play already ranks him higher than Weeden, Campbell, McCoy, Quinn, Frye, Dorsey, Detmer, Wallace. [back]
  2. I cut it into two parts, but they’re still pretty huge, ~150MB combined.  I recommend downloading them and viewing it locally versus trying to stream it in your browser.  I have also uploaded the whole she-bang here at screencast, but I suspect this won’t provide long-term access.  I embedded it at bottom of post too, but no promises, expect it to be pulled. [back]
  3. Mis-labelled as Drive 6 on the tape. [back]
  4. Silly delay penalty on Bengals stops clock and gives first down. [back]
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  • RatDizzle

    A little late to the party, but this is great stuff Kanicki.

    Hoyer looking off the defense on the Benjamin screen was the “ah ha” moment when I thought we really might have something with the kid. Of course my first thoughts on the throw being, “WOW. BrandoN Weeden could NEVER do that.

  • Petefranklin

    Thank you so much Jim! Awesome footage!

  • bupalos

    Nice work here.

    Just to clarify, I’m pretty positive on Hoyer and definitely think he should start next year no matter who we draft. That said, I still do want someone behind him and I would feel good saying yes to Bridgewater or Manziel if they are there at our natural pick. There is an element of the game that I don’t think Hoyer’s shown yet, which is how he reacts to backers and DB’s baiting him on reads. I remember identifying two other plays like the Greenway one last year, but can’t figure out what they are now. But I just want to see him show that last bit of Brady-like adjustment and I’ll be fully on board. It’s great that he knows the script. But he has to be able to make people pay for going off it.

    One aspect I really like is his propensity to just throw to a good matchup. He seems to have a great grasp of risk-reward and good confidence. He’s an anti-weeden in many ways.

    • mgbode

      you sum up all of my thoughts on Hoyer well.

      agree that kanick’s did some good work above, but he did go a bit over the top like the comparison to Peyton to soften his sole negative on Hoyer (who is not a gunslinger by any means, only had 10INTs in the regular season last year, oh and the 55TDs helped too).

      that and I’ll get him to come around on Cam one of these years. the man helped the Panthers go 11-2 in their last 13 games with their only losses @NO and v.SF (and they won @SF and v.NO during that stretch too). yes, the Panthers had a great defense, but Cam helped navigate them on offense very well last year too (this paragraph added because he put Cam in with the 1st round busts of Ponder, Gabbert, and likely bust Locker. Please replace Cam with Bradford or Tannehill or J.Russell or Quinn or Weeden, etc.).

      • it *was* small sample size, but there were enough up-for-grab throws to see a hoyer bad-pass trend. and peyton was the first guy to come to mind as a qb who is good, good, great, solid, good, and then WHOA! WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT PASS?.

        re cam: here’s the 2013 game log and the sortable 2013 passer stats. he’s right in the middle of comp pct, yds/game, yds/completion, etc. i dont hate him, he’s fine.

        • mgbode

          yes, Hoyer is good at making the read on the defense, but not necessarily the defender. So, when the defense does something weird with a defender (or they read the play and make an early break), it seems too late for Hoyer because he’s already made up his mind (which is the negative of that quick throw time).

          I’m not as positive on Hoyer as you, but I also am not completely down on him either. I want a QB and I really want Teddy (if he doesn’t go to Houston though I suspect he will). But, if we start the year with Hoyer playing and our newly minted QB-prospect learning, then I’m good with that as well.

          I just don’t want another middling QB prospect who has much less chance of being good picked (most QBs drafted outside top10). If we are going to go that route, then use the 3rd/4th round picks to make sure we get both Aaron Murray and Connor Shaw and let them battle it out (can still have Hoyer start the year and see what he does with the opportunity).

          We have only drafted 1 legit franchise prospect (and Couch wasn’t a franchise QB – or the team around him was so terrible it wouldn’t have mattered. either way, it didn’t work).

          • “Hoyer is good at making the read on the defense, but not necessarily the defender.”

            to this i say let him play more games. he’s started what, three? four? nfl games. so he’s gotten good studying film and so can read defenses. once he’s had more than a half dozen games under his belt, i’d wager he’ll be better spotting safeties ready to jump a route or CBs playing possum or LBs faking blitz then dropping into a zone.

            seems way unfair to ding hoyer for in-game naïveté when he’s only had 192 passing attempts in nfl games.

            second note: just because you draft a middling prospect at #4 doesnt make that prospect a franchise QB. i went ahead and baked hoyer’s combine into this year’s combine qbs. hoyer measures out at bridgewater’s height/weight (6-2), bigger hands than bortles, and obviously bigger than the smallest qb in this year’s combine.

          • mgbode

            we are closer than it seems I think. I am okay on giving him some time to figure it out, but I just refuse to bank on it (seen too many QBs start well and end poorly here). So, I want a QB drafted too.

            The question is which QBs are middling prospects. I don’t think that any of the top3 guys are middling (Bortles highest likelihood to end up in that regard).

            Honestly, if the FO determines that they would prefer to wait on a QB, then I will be disappointed, but that would be lessened if they take my favorite non-top3 guy (Shaw). But, I have more details on the QBs I like in your prospect thread.

          • mgbode

            First 2 games started for Browns (and yes, evaluations go beyond stats, but just to demonstrate the point further):

            QBA: 44/69 499yds 3TD 3INT 81.7QBrating 7.23YPA
            QBB: 37/71 424yds 2TD 0INT 79.8QBrating 5.97YPA
            QBC: 29/44 364yds 3TD 1INT 104.7QBrating 8.61YPA
            QBD: 44/69 524yds 5TD 0INT 111.0QBrating 9.04YPA
            QBE: 55/92 590yds 5TD 3INT 83.2QBrating 6.41YPA
            QBF: 32/49 355yds 1TD 2INT 76.9QBrating 7.24YPA
            QBG: 38/72 440yds 2TD 4INT 57.6QBrating 6.11YPA

            QBA = Derek Anderson
            QBB = Brady Quinn
            QBC = Charlie Frye
            QBD = Kelly Holcomb
            QBE = Brian Hoyer
            QBF = Colt McCoy
            QBG = Brandon Weeden

          • why use stats when you can use your eyes?

            that’s why i loaded 30 minutes of hoyer film to review. three INTs vs vikes? yep, we saw two bad passes, one arm deflection, and no turnovers in the following week win. i dont think anyone who watches the hoyer film will mistake him for anyone on that list (save maybe holcomb).

          • mgbode

            I agree you need both. Pop in Holcombs first 2 games and you could rave even more (and I agree he is the best former Brown comparison). Neither of us know where Hoyer will go from here, which is why I want a QB drafted as well.

            note: and, I’d be curious if we can get ahold of Frye’s first 2 games. I mean, I remember he started well, but those look better than I remember. Very well could be the stats look better than he did on the field, but it would be nice to confirm. I’ll try to see what I can find.

          • i’m in the process of downgrading bridgewater and manziel. manziel came to combine and all he proved is that he’s the smallest qb at the combine. THE SMALLEST. the no throwing at combine tells me a lot. ditto that on bridgewater: not throwing OR running?

            at the same time, i really liked how garropolo commanded his WRs in his drills. you can’t tell a lot on ball speed and accuracy from the NFLN feed, but i could see QBs who look their WRs in the eye confidence. it wouldn’t be a big thing except that garropolo was the only one who did it; the only one (i saw) who tried to get a chemistry with his target. that’s smart QBacking. do want.

          • mgbode

            top QB prospects often don’t participate, no? I honestly don’t care that much about throwing in shorts and a T. Bridgewater nor Manziel will look as good as Derek Carr in such a setting, but I would never take Carr above them.

            Garropolo intrigues me. He got rave reviews in the postseason games/practices, which is good. What was great was that it was his “new” teammates that were doing the most gushing on him. I just don’t know enough about him, honestly.

          • manziel/bridgwater are top prospects by media edict only. they both have a lot to prove to the team scouts if they want to be a top 5 pick and big-timing the combine won’t sit well.

            net net: if you have a good arm, you want to show it off. if not, you control the environment as much as you can. that’s my read on it.

          • mgbode

            if you are highly expected to be drafted top5, then you generally only throw on your pro-day:

            Andrew Luck – didn’t throw at combine
            RGIII – didn’t throw at combine
            Stafford – didn’t throw at combine
            Bradford – didn’t throw at combine
            Cam Newton – hey, he did, then was raked over the coals as he was only okay that day.


            Russell’s draft stock soared because he was the best shorts&T thrower of all time (apparently). He threw at LSU’s pro-day.

          • just looking at luck and griffin, not sure they had much to prove. manziel and bridgewater are not as credentialed as luck/griffin.

            newton may have only been ‘ok’ at the combine precisely because he’s only an ‘ok’ passer. i know there’s a million ways to eval QBs but for sake of argument here’s PFF’s QBR ranking of newton:
            2011: #15, 81.21;
            2012: #19, 82.83;
            2013: #15, 85.27.
            not saying newton sucks; am saying i want my #1 overall pick to rate higher than andy dalton.*

            *dalton: 2011-#14; 2012-#18; 2013-#14.

          • mgbode

            How many short yardage 1st downs/TDs has Andy run compared to Cam (he definitely has more growing to do as a passer)? 🙂

            Regardless, the established protocol is that expected top5 picks do not generally throw at the combine. Nothing out of sorts here.

    • NeedsFoodBadly

      Yah. Kanick is doing great work. My only worries are the extremely small sample size. My questions would be, if you were a defensive coach, how would you scheme against him? What are his weaknesses? Now there is at least a little tape on him, so folks are gonna have an idea of what they’re up against.

      • if i were DC, i’d dare him to beat me deep. would not blitz, would flood underneath zone. obv. w gordon that can be catastrophic since gordon is a jumpball winner.

  • AlvaroEspinoza10

    100% with you on Hoyer. After the draft of Weeden I’m convinced the only way to do plan QB properly is to draft a project QB in the 4th/5th/6th round every year and just hope to hit every 5/6 years or so. Curious to see what Farmer will do

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