Baker Mayfield, After Strong Debut, Lands Browns Starting Job

Baker Mayfield, After Strong Debut, Lands Browns Starting Job


The Cleveland Browns announced Monday that the rookie Baker Mayfield would take over as starting quarterback this week against the Raiders.

The Browns began the season starting Tyrod Taylor, acquired from the Bills, with Mayfield, the No. 1 overall draft pick, as his backup. It was a fresh quarterbacking start after DeShone Kizer led the team to a 0-16 record last season.

Taylor’s Browns started off 0-1-1. Then he went down with a concussion in the second quarter on Thursday night with his team trailing, 14-0. Enter Mayfield.

He lived up to his lofty draft pick immediately, completing passes, eluding defenders and utterly transforming the game.

“I saw the ball being spread around, the ball going to the right person,” Coach Hue Jackson said Monday. “I saw the offense start to make plays up and down the field.”

Mayfield led the Browns to a comeback win over the Jets on Thursday, 21-17. It was the first victory for the team in 635 days and set off celebrations in Cleveland not seen since the N.B.A. title of 2016.

Mayfield finished 17-for-23 for 201 yards with an adjusted yards per attempt rate of a solid 8.7. Taylor has a figure of 4.9.

Coach Hue Jackson said Taylor would become the backup and said there was a “good chance” he would be ready if called on this coming week against the Raiders, though he did not practice on Monday. The Browns are 3-point underdogs on the road.

Jackson told reporters of the pressure on the rookie Mayfield: “I think he can handle it. He’s demonstrated that.”

The modern Browns have had a horrible history with quarterbacks. Since the team reformed in 1999, 29 different players have started there for the team. This week, Mayfield will become No. 30.

Before Mayfield’s supreme relief appearance, it had been a mixed start for the heralded rookie quarterback class. No. 3 pick Sam Darnold has started since Week 1 with the Jets, though his numbers are weak. After a misbegotten flirtation with Nathan Peterman, Buffalo has turned to No. 7 pick Josh Allen. He led the team to a stunning win as 17-point underdogs against Minnesota on Sunday.

Both No. 10 Josh Rosen of the Cardinals and No. 32 Lamar Jackson of the Ravens have been limited to cameos so far.

The question now is whether Mayfield can lead the Browns to glory, or even respectability, where Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Johnny Manziel, and so many others failed.





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