This past Thursday, the Baker Mayfield era began as he rallied the Cleveland Browns from a 14-0 deficit to get the team’s first win since Christmas Eve 2016 in a 21-17 victory over the New York Jets.
On Monday, head coach Hue Jackson will officially name Mayfield the starting quarterback in preparation for the team’s next game against the Oakland Raiders on Sunday.
The first overall pick in April’s NFL Draft’s performance in his NFL debut was electric, completing 17 of 23 attempts for 201 yards leading the offense on four scoring drives (two touchdowns, two field goals) in a little over a half of play. He also caught a two-point conversion pass from Jarvis Landry.
For a rookie who received no reps with the first-team offense, Mayfield looked like someone who worked with them the entire time. He was able to get the ball out quickly and find his receivers whether they were wide open or if he had to thread the needle like he did to Landry on a few completions.
The chemistry he built with Rashard Higgins and Antonio Callaway during training camp and preseason was still there and his ability to move the ball down the field opened up the running game with Carlos Hyde able to pound the ball down the stretch including the team’s two touchdowns.
Jackson raved to reporters on Friday about Mayfield’s game film, calling it “as good as I thought live”.
He didn’t name Mayfield the starter right away because he gave the team the weekend off following the victory and he wanted to tell the team first on Monday morning before announcing.
He also did it out of respect to Tyrod Taylor, the team’s starting quarterback for the first three games. Taylor was sidelined Thursday night with a concussion, his third in the last 13 months but was struggling on the field to take control of the offense.
Taylor completed 48.8% of his throws for 462 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also ran for 125 yards and a touchdown on 16 attempts. His inability to get the ball downfield consistently and his frequency to hold on to the ball were some of the flaws in his game this season.
Now the team can begin the process of moving towards the future with Mayfield as their quarterback. I think we all knew it would likely come at some point during the season but some were hopeful that Mayfield would get to sit and learn behind Taylor.
Some learn on the sidelines like Patrick Mahomes, Carson Palmer and Aaron Rodgers had the opportunity to do but some like Carson Wentz and Deshaun Watson played early or from the start and succeed. It’s different for every player.
Mayfield has the tools to be a successful quarterback in the National Football League, it’s up to the Browns organization to put the right pieces around him in the present and future for him to maintain success for himself and the organization who hasn’t had a winning season since 2007 and a postseason appearance since 2002.
As for Tyrod Taylor, keep an eye on the San Francisco 49ers. Jimmy Garoppolo went down with a non-contact knee injury during Sunday’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs and the team is fearing that he tore his ACL.
The team currently has C.J. Beathard as it’s only other quarterback on the roster and if Garoppolo is indeed done for the season, they will be in the market for another quarterback and could potentially make a call to trade for Taylor who could be a fit in Kyle Shanahan’s offense.