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La Canfora: Hoyer Staying the Starter at QB; Raiders Game is a "Must Win"

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CBS Sports Insider Jason La Canfora talked about Brian Hoyer and the Browns with Baskin & Phelps on 92.3 The Fan on Tuesday.

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Depressing is the only word to describe the Browns' 24-6 loss to the previously winless Jaguars on Sunday. Even still, it's not time to hit the panic button.

CBS Sports Insider Jason La Canfora put Sunday's game in perspective in an appearance on Baskin & Phelps on 92.3 The Fan on Tuesday.

You can listen to the full interview here, but most of La Canfora's interesting quotes are below.

As La Canfora said, Sunday's loss hurts, but it doesn't ruin the rest of the season.

"It's certainly deflating, but it doesn't have to be something that alters the course of their season, and they can't let it," he said. "Injuries are not an excuse, nobody wants to hear it. But when you're down three defensive linemen, when you're without Alex Mack, it's going to matter.

"Did I think it was going to be that devastating, that quickly to the point where their entire offense is going to be undermined and they were going to give up 185 yards rushing on the other side to Jacksonville? No. But it happened, and they have to learn from it and reconfigure some things," he concluded.

All the Browns need to do is move on and beat the Oakland Raiders at home on Sunday.

"[If] you lose to winless teams back-to-back weeks with rookie quarterbacks, that's a different scenario. To me, this is a must-win game if they're going to be a playoff factor," La Canfora said. "If they're going to fulfill some of that promise that they flashed, then they have to win this game."

As La Canfora affirmed, the loss of Alex Mack for the season truly hurts. John Greco didn't play an awful game, but he made a crucial mistake by snapping the ball on 4th and 5 in the 4th quarter. Pro Football Focus gave right guard Paul McQuistan a paltry grade of -4.5.

"It seemed that the entire of the offense was undermined by the lack of their leader – Alex Mack, the central nervous system of their offense," La Canfora said. "That offensive line had clearly been the prevailing strength of that team. It was anything but on that day."

La Canfora expects changes on the offensive line soon.

"I don't think Greco will be at center this week," he said. "They're talking about juggling their offensive line a little bit. I expect that to happen. But there's plenty of blame to go around."

This does contradict the most recent report out of Berea, however.

Either way, the Browns have to get the ground game going.

As La Canfora stressed, the Browns' offense starts with the running game.

"If they can't run the ball, and in particular gash people on the outside zone, they can't mask all of the other personnel issues they have on offense," La Canfora said. "When they are humming along with that stuff, as we've seen, they can be a productive offense. But that really is their bread and butter. If that goes away, they are in trouble."

Quarterback Brian Hoyer also needs to show improvement, as La Canfora called him "not good" against Jacksonville.

However, La Canfora does not think that this is a "must-win" type of situation for Hoyer.

"The comfort level is with the veteran. There is a lot of belief in Brian Hoyer," he said. "No one plays a perfect season. Tom Brady has had some really bad games, Peyton Manning has had some bad games. That was certainly a stinker, it wasn't good. But again, with the entire offense, nothing seemed to work.

"We all know they don't have weapons there. If they don't have weapons and they can't run the football, they're pretty much doomed, he continued. "No one is winning individual matchups. Maybe Hawkins in the slot, but they're not sending people out there who can win games because they're freakish matchups or because they draw so much attention to them or because they have a singular greatness. The whole has to be greater than the sum of all the parts. When you take away the run, I don't care who the quarterback is, that's not going to be a productive offense."

Head coach Mike Pettine said as much today, as he told Mary Kay Cabot of the Plain Dealer, "Brian is still firmly our starter. Nothing's changed."

La Canfora was also asked about Johnny Manziel. The NFL Insider played out a scenario in which the rookie was put in at quarterback.

"With Johnny Manziel, we'll say his biggest discrepancy with Hoyer is speed of thought, mental clarity of the game, knowledge of the offense, and ability to be one step ahead, right? Hoyer's played almost half a season now and Manziel has played three snaps since August," La Canfora said. "Now, there's no Alex Mack, right? So you're going to have a guy at center who's going to be trying to learn on the fly. All the things that Alex Mack could have done: he could call out the mike [linebacker], set up the protections, rotate everything, he could do all the thinking for Johnny so Johnny could just make plays. You don't have that now.

"Let me see Greco and Manziel: let's see how that plays out," La Canfora continued. "That, to me, looks like a complete and utter disaster ... Johnny Manziel is such a wildcard, such an unknown and is coming from a place that is not NFL-like at all. To compare what he had to do in college to what he'll have to do on Sundays, you're talking about a quantum leap. I have a hard time thinking that saves the season."