The Baker Mayfield era begins in Cleveland
If you’re one of those people that completely skips over Thursday Night Football then you missed out on something special this week.
There wasn’t that much buzz around the Browns and the Jets; I was still excited but I had friends saying they’d only care if Baker Mayfield was starting. My roommate has Jarvis Landry on his fantasy team so he caved and decided to watch anyway.
Many felt Tyrod Taylor was on a short leash but I wasn’t buying into that narrative. Each of the Browns’ first two games would have been won if a few more field goals went their way. However, Tyrod just so happened to choose this game to play his worst half of football.
The offense sputtered for 28 minutes and I went from “Tyrod is playing the full game” to “He’s a drive away from getting benched”. Their struggles don’t solely fall on Tyrod, but the fans were hungry for change. They knew they had the 1st overall pick waiting on the sideline; that’s a potential fire-starter. Unfortunately, Tyrod eventually went down with a concussion but signs were pointing to him being pulled at the half anyway.
I was nervous for Baker, though. The Jets have legit talent on the defensive side of the ball. He had never faced a secondary with guys like Trumaine Johnson, Morris Claiborne, and Jamal Adams while at Oklahoma.
Well, Baker shut me and all of his doubters up immediately. His first two throws were absolute lasers between Jets defenders - my roommate and I gave each other that look to make sure we saw the same thing. Troy Aikman made a comment that the offense looked like they had more urgency once Baker came in (well yes, because Baker had to come in and run a 2-minute drill.) We still needed to see how he looked with the offense slowed down and the run game implemented.
As you’ve probably heard by now, the Cleveland Browns came back and ended up winning their first game since Week 16 of 2016. The starting QB that game? Robert Griffin III.
It just felt like there was something special in Cleveland Thursday night. The first field goal from new kicker Greg Joseph had a curve so strong on his ball, it looked like a higher power forced it between the uprights. Carlos Hyde celebrated his birthday with two touchdowns, all while his wife was in labor with their son.
The whole night felt like a celebration. The win coming in Cleveland was just another reason to celebrate.
I had to feel bad for Tyrod. He was brought in to be the starter and couldn’t win the first two games for reasons beyond his control. But when Baker came in, the whole feeling in Cleveland changed. Carlos Hyde ran harder, Denzel Ward stripped Robby Anderson after getting beat on a route, and the Browns picked off Sam Darnold twice. I love Josh Gordon, but without being able to rely on him now, the offense just looked more sure of itself. The confidence of everyone elevated their play. Jarvis Landry is the guy now and Antonio Callaway flashed all the potential in the world.
Head coach Hue Jackson says he needs to look at the tape before naming a starter for next week’s game in Oakland, but we already know what the tape reads. He did more than bring the Browns back from near-disaster; he inspired hope in the entire city of Cleveland.