At long last, the Cleveland Browns have made their decision under center.
"He was the clear leader from the beginning," coach Mike Pettine said in a press release. "We've maintained all along that if it was close, I would prefer to go with the more experienced player. Brian has done a great job in the meeting rooms and with his teammates on the practice field and in the locker room."
The decision leaves first-round rookie Johnny Manziel staring up from the No. 2 spot on the depth chart after both passers struggled mightily through Cleveland's first two preseason games.
Hoyer hardly won the job on the field. He couldn't hit the side of a barn in Monday night's loss to the Washington Redskins, finishing 2 of 6 on the night for 16 yards. His pair of completions came within feet of the line of scrimmage as the sixth-year veteran saw his throws sail over, below and behind his targets.
Manziel, though, failed to separate himself, struggling to move the ball and seeming underwater in Kyle Shanahan's terminology-heavy offensive scheme. The No. 22 overall pick didn't help himself with a nationally televised flip of the bird toward Washington's trash-talking bench, but that alone didn't seal this decision.
With the Browns set to open their season in Pittsburgh, Pettine clearly doesn't feel comfortable rolling out Johnny Football against Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, who boasts a 17-2 record against rookie quarterbacks since 2004.
Pettine told the team's official site that he considered Hoyer's overall "body of work," pointing to the passer's three regular-season wins last season and the way he prepared himself throughout the offseason. The coach, though, acknowledged on Tuesday that Hoyer -- like Manziel -- remains a rookie, in essence.
Pettine told Carucci that he didn't want to stretch the process out another week, choosing to give Hoyer and the first-team offense maximum practice time leading up to Week 1.
The decision doesn't rule out Manziel seeing snaps against the Steelers as a subpackage quarterback, but it's a clear indication that Cleveland's coaching staff hasn't been impressed with the early handiwork of their franchise-quarterback-in-waiting.
As it is every year in Cleveland, we're bound to see more than one starter before Christmas -- maybe even before Halloween. This story is far from over.