Baker's time: Mayfield named Browns starting quarterback

Tyrod Taylor will be backup when cleared from concussion protocol

Daryl Ruiter
September 24, 2018 - 1:00 pm
Cleveland Browns Baker Mayfield September 24, 2018 practice

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

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Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – It took just 3 games, but the Baker Mayfield era is officially upon us.

In an announcement that surprised nobody and was merely a formality, Browns head coach Hue Jackson elevated Mayfield to the starting quarterback role officially on Monday.

“I wanted to be the starting quarterback. I wanted to play,” Mayfield said Monday. “It’s just human nature. I’m happy but it’s just the beginning.”

Jackson could’ve done it right after the Browns’ 21-17 win over the Jets Thursday night, but he wanted to make sure the time was right to make the move and sit down with Tyrod Taylor and Mayfield first before making any public declarations.

“He nailed it,” Jackson said Monday of Mayfield’s debut Thursday night.

In just over a full half of football Mayfield showed the world that he very well could be the game-changing franchise quarterback the Browns and their fans had been hoping, wishing and praying for for the better part of 3 decades.

Mayfield was so good, the Browns changed course from their original plan to sit Mayfield this season to starting him in Week 4.

“This is sooner than when I thought it would happen because I thought we would play better,” Jackson said. “There was a stark difference in how we performed when he was in there.”

Mayfield was sensational in relief of Taylor, who suffered a concussion and left the game late in the second quarter, as he resurrected the Browns from a 14-0 deficit completing 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards in the process.

“I saw him make more plays with the guys,” Jackson said. “I saw the ball being spread around, the ball going to the right person. I saw the offense start to make plays up and down the field.”

The energy that Mayfield, who outplayed Jets rookie and No. 3 overall pick Sam Darnold, provided made the entire team better.

The offensive line, which was under siege with Taylor dropping back, held their blocks while Mayfield got the ball out much faster and delivered darts to his receivers, tight ends and running backs.

“You could be a terrible quarterback talent-wise but as long as you make the players around you better, you’re doing your job,” Mayfield said. “I told you guys during training camp and OTAs – my job is to get the ball in their hands. That’s how they look better. They’re doing their job. That’s what they’re paid to do is make plays so that’s what I want to do, get the ball in their hands and make them [look good]. They’re the playmakers so I just always had that mentality, let them do the work and I just get my job done.”

Cleveland’s defense allowed just 3 second half points and came away with a pair of interceptions of Darnold in the final 2 minutes to seal the victory – the first in 635 days for the franchise.

Taylor did not practice Monday as he has not been cleared from the NFL’s concussion protocol but once Taylor is cleared he will serve as Mayfield’s backup. The Browns anticipate that will be this week – but if not Drew Stanton will hold down the role if needed against the Raiders.

In 35 offensive series Taylor produced 5 touchdown drives, 2 field goal drives while 3 resulted in missed field goals, 21 punts – 10 3-and-outs, 2 interceptions and 2 series ended a half.

Mayfield was on the field for 8 series last Thursday – 2 ended a half – meaning he led scoring drives on 4 of 6 series – 2 touchdowns and 2 field goals – when he wasn’t killing the clock.

“He’s earned it by the way he’s played,” Jackson said.

“Baker understands a there’s still a lot of work to do. I think he can handle that. He’s demonstrated that.”

Mayfield’s first start won’t be easy this Sunday – on the road at the famed ‘Black Hole’ in Oakland against a Raiders team that is 0-3 and hungry for their first win of the season.