After four years as a backup he went 3--0 in 2013, then tore his right ACL in Week 5 and watched Cleveland draft Johnny Manziel. Hoyer held onto the starting job and has an NFL-high 13.6 yards per completion for the 3--2 Browns.
DP:When did you feel like this was your job?
BRIAN HOYER: Ever since I played last year. We had some success, then unfortunately the injury occurred. I knew at some point I'd be healthy. I thought things would pick up where they left off.
DP:Do you think the media was rooting for Johnny Manziel to beat you out?
BH: I didn't pay much attention to it.
DP:How could you not? It was everywhere.
BH: Don't watch TV, don't go on the Internet, don't read the newspaper, don't go on social media. I knew if I could eliminate that from my life it would be one less distraction.
DP:What's your role with Manziel? Do you have to be friends?
BH: We definitely get along. Our relationship has grown. It's a great quarterback room. When you have to be with someone for 12 hours a day, five days a week, you better get along, or else it's going to be a long year.
DP:How was draft night?
BH: I only planned on watching until the fourth pick, and then we traded back. I was like, I'll wait until we make the next pick. When we drafted [cornerback] Justin Gilbert [at No. 8], I was like, All right, I'm going to go to bed. The TV stayed on, and as things went along, I was like, Hmm, I better stay up. Before they drafted him, [GM] Ray Farmer texted me and let me know, This has nothing to do with how we feel about you. I've trusted those guys all along. I believe in what they tell me.
DP:More likely: The Browns get into the playoffs or Michigan State gets into the playoff?
BH: Both likely.
BH: If you look at the Top 10, there's a lot of SEC schools that have to play each other. I'm so proud to be part of what Coach [Mark] Dantonio has built there. His first two years there were my last two. I feel like we set the foundation. I've known [Spartans QB] Connor Cook since he was in high school. To see him doing a great job is fun to watch.
DP:How would you describe your postgame dance after the record, 26-point comeback win against the Titans in Week 4?
BH: I saw [tackle] Joe Thomas in there. It looked like he needed some help. With all I've been through with the injury, competition, I just wanted to go out and enjoy it. You never know when it can be taken away from you.
DP:Joe looked good for an offensive lineman.
BH: There's a little stiffness in the hips with some of those moves.
Tony Dungy told me Tom Brady has had a better career than his former quarterback Peyton Manning. "It's all about getting to Super Bowls and winning," Dungy said. "Tom's been to five of them [and won three]. But we'll see where it goes from here with Manning. John Elway didn't win any until his last two years." ... Michigan coach Brady Hoke defended his decision not to wear a headset during games: "It allows me to coach kids on the sideline. The kid comes off, we talk technique fundamentals. I'm right next to [the coordinators]. Those guys are the experts from a game-plan standpoint." ... Mississippi State junior QB Dak Prescott grew up a huge Cowboys fan. I asked if he would go pro early if I could guarantee Dallas took him. "That's kind of hard," Prescott said. "Depends on where they take me and what Jerry Jones wants to do."
MICHAEL J. LEBRECHT II FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PATRICK)
MADDIE MEYER/GETTY IMAGES (HOYER)
SCOTT HALLERAN/GETTY IMAGES (DUNGY)
JEFF HAYNES FOR SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (HOKE)
SIMON BRUTY/SPORTS ILLUSTRATED (PRESCOTT)