‘Long ago, in a galaxy far away, a franchise won a football game and embarked on a long journey of ineptitude and great losses. The franchise acquired generals to lead them to victory and many failed, the franchise had a sad history of failed generals over the many years of its existence.
In the midst of a battle mired in almost certain defeat, a new general emerged. Young and hungry, the general led the troops to a win in battle they sorely needed. The franchise’s long-embattled supporters rallied in sheer unbridled happiness, for the long drought had been ended.
The general had arrived, perhaps the one to finally right the beaten and battered ship…..’
I know that’s a bit dramatic, but it certainly had that feel, like it was right out of a movie. Watching the Browns versus Jets game last night, it felt like the new guard had arrived and Cleveland’s savior had arrived. Baker Mayfield entered the game before halftime with the Browns down 14-0 and led them to a victory. It wasn’t just a win, it felt like so much more.
The Young Jedi
When the Browns took Mayfield with the first pick of the 2018 draft, some were quite surprised. Mayfield is immensely talented and put up crazy stats in college, but many thought he was too short at 6’1″ and some questioned the maturity and fiery playing style that came off arrogant and got him in a little trouble. He had a minor run-in with the law and served a little community service time as well.
Mayfield’s college career was unusual and you can tell he’s a fighter. He walked on at Texas Tech and then also at Oklahoma and fought his way to a starting spot at both schools. He won battles against quarterbacks that were recruited and thought to be better prospects. Mayfield is passionate and it shows, his teams rallied around him and it showed. It also showed Thursday night.
The First NFL Action
First, if you haven’t watched last night’s game, stop reading this and go watch at least the highlights. Starter Tyrod Taylor went out with a concussion late in the second quarter and the mood in the building flipped – you could feel the excitement in the air watching it on TV. Taylor had been pretty ineffective, to say the least, and the Browns were down two touchdowns.
Mayfield came out onto the field and in one pass nearly matched Taylor’s previous yardage output – a 14-yard dart to Jarvis Landry. There was another bullet – a 17-yard strike to David Njoku. Then his first NFL sack and Mayfield fumbled, thankfully recovered by a lineman. A 16-yard completion pulled them into field goal range and Cleveland was quickly on the board.
Two drives in the second half led to short Carlos Hyde touchdown runs and the box score final showed that Mayfield was 17/23 for 201 yards. There were 3 dropped passes, his passes were pinpoint and his ability to keep plays alive with his mobility was evident. To watch his highlights, check out this video.
Beyond the stat sheet – what you would see if you physically watched the game – the team responded to having Baker Mayfield at QB. The lineman seemed to block better, the receivers ran faster, Hyde was running like a madman = the offense seemed to have new life. The defense pinned their ears back and played tougher too. The whole team responded, the crowd was into it, it seemed like the Cleveland Browns team we all thought they could be.
What is Next?
In the postgame press conference, Hue Jackson was non-committal and gave the safe, boring answers. Asked if Baker Mayfield was the starting quarterback, Hue responded with, “I will have to watch the tape, and we will go from there.” Jackson mentioned the defense causing turnovers and he thought Mayfield did great coming off the bench and leading to the win.
My opinion: The Browns will go back to Taylor as the starting quarterback and if they do, it will cost Hue Jackson his job. I am a Tyrod Taylor believer but at some point, the talent of Baker Mayfield can’t be denied. The team, the city, the fans – they respond to Mayfield and he gives the Cleveland Browns the best chance to win.
Mayfield is a rookie and will have some tough games, I see the team being good enough to pick him up and keeping the games competitive. The Browns seemed lifeless and they looked beat when Tyrod Taylor was struggling and like they had already given up.
Baker Mayfield is the future of the Cleveland Browns, he is a QB1 for the foreseeable future – he needs to be started from now on, or else the Browns are doomed to their losing ways.
For a report on all the 2018 rookies, check out this Week 2 2018 Rookie Review.