Updated: Aug 14, 2019
The Browns won a game! I repeat, the Cleveland Browns have won a game!
2017 was a disastrous year for Cleveland as they finished 0-16 which led to the number one overall pick in the 2018 draft. Cleveland's future would change on April 26, 2018, when Commissioner Roger Goodell called Baker Mayfield's name.
The Oklahoma quarterback entered the NFL surrounded by controversy, some more credible than others. A police video showing Mayfield trying to flee from authorities went viral and on the field, crotch grabbing had many coaches and scouts questioning Mayfield's potential as a franchise quarterback.
Baker Mayfield silenced those critics, for the meantime, on Thursday night. An injury to Tyrod Taylor forced Mayfield into action for the first time in his NFL career. Trailing 14-0 to the Jets, Baker would do what he was drafted to do: lead the Browns to a victory.
At games end, Mayfield had thrown for 201 yards while completing 74 percent of his passes. Although he did not reach the endzone, the Browns offense showed life with Mayfield under center. The offensive line was actually protecting the rookie QB and the weapons around him seemed to have a breath of fresh air.
On Mayfield's first drive, he led Cleveland to a field goal after completing 3 of 4 passes for 47 yards. Putting that in perspective, Tyrod Taylor had led the Browns to exactly zero points in almost an entire first half. Mayfield's debut even got a hot take out of Skip Bayless.
Hot takes aside, Mayfield looked the part of a franchise quarterback. He was accurate and decisive unlike Taylor, who completed only 28.6 percent of his passes for 19 yards in Thursday night's game.
Mayfield outplayed Taylor in every aspect of the game which leads to the question, Who should start next week against the Raiders?
The immediate answer from Browns fans has been Baker Mayfield but head coach Hue Jackson said he needed to "watch the tape" before naming next weeks starter.
"Obviously, I like to watch the tape. Baker did some great things," Jackson said. "We do not play until next Sunday. We have some day. Let's not get into those debates tonight. Obviously, what he did tonight was outstanding for the football team and his teammates and just the way he competed."
Jackson's indecisiveness made sense due to Mayfield only playing one game against one of the weaker teams in the NFL. On the other hand, Mayfield did lead the Browns back from a 14 point deficit to win their first game in 635 days.
Jackson had one question left to answer: Does he start Taylor, who has a career 23-21-1 record accompanied by a 61.5 completion percentage and has been consistently average since becoming a full time starter in 2015? Or does Jackson start the hot hand in Baker Mayfield?
The answer is simple and Jackson got it right. According to Cleveland.com, Hue Jackson has named Baker Mayfield the starting quarterback and will meet with Mayfield and Taylor personally before making an announcement to the media.
Even without the announcement Mayfield deserved to start. The Cleveland Browns spent the number one overall pick on Mayfield and even if the Browns wanted to hold off his debut, Mayfield's time is now.
As soon as Mayfield touched the field, FirstEnegry Stadium came alive. The fans were back in the game and most importantly so were the Browns. Mayfield showed signs he was worthy of the number one overall pick and has given the Browns organization hope for a brighter future.
It is only a matter of time before Baker Mayfield is asking NFL teams, "Who's Your Daddy?"
The Browns travel to Oakland next week where Mayfield will make his first NFL start and will look to continue the teams modest one game winning streak.
*the picture used in the preview of this article is attributed to "The Checkdown"
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