At long last, the Cleveland Browns decided to give Baker Mayfield a shot under center, and he delivered the goods on his first drive.
The Cleveland Browns were scoreless for the better part of the first half against the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football. While former Browns running back Isaiah Crowell punched the ball into the end zone twice for the Jets, Cleveland failed to get anything going on the ground or through the air, with Tyrod Taylor missing an open Antonio Callaway deep on several frustrating plays.
Although it was unfortunate to see Taylor leave the game with a possible concussion, his exit may have been a blessing in disguise for the Browns.
Even dating back to Week 1 when the Browns tied the rival Pittsburgh Steelers, fans had been clamoring for rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield to take over. Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick, is a tremendous talent, and he finally got his opportunity to toss passes for the Browns in Week 3 due to Taylor’s possible injury.
Mayfield’s first pass was an absolute laser to Jarvis Landry over the middle of the field, and that 14-yard first down set the tone for the rest of the drive. For the first time all game, the Browns offense didn’t seem to be suffocated by Todd Bowles’s aggressive Jets defense. Mayfield followed up his pass to “Juice” by hitting tight end David Njoku for a first down.
Though Mayfield did fumble the ball, Joel Bitonio made sure luck would be on his side by recovering the fumble. Mayfield hit Landry with another big pass, and that was enough to move the Browns into field goal range, where new kicker Greg Joseph nailed a 45-yard kick with some Ricardo Quaresma-esque “trivela” action to give the Browns their first points of the game.
It was great to see Mayfield confidently move the chains for the Browns, and his early connection with Landry looks incredibly promising. Last year’s Heisman Trophy winner, Mayfield seems to be as good as advertised. He was accurate, in command of the offense, poised under pressure, and clearly read through his progressions while understanding who is go-to guy, Landry, is.
The future looks bright for the Browns at quarterback, because even in just one drive, Mayfield looked like a massive upgrade over Taylor. For a rookie, Mayfield looked mature, and the traits that made him a star at Oklahoma certainly shined through, which could bode well for players like Njoku and Landry.
Hopefully Taylor is OK and isn’t concussed, but there’s no way the Browns go back to him now. Of the two players, Mayfield looks less like the scared rookie than Taylor and more like the seasoned veteran who can lead this team throughout the 2018 campaign.