Baker Mayfield Mania has arrived.
For the first time since 2015, the Cleveland Browns were the betting favorite at home against the New York Jets. This was the same Cleveland Browns team that had not won a game since December 24, 2016. Optimism was high, but throughout most of the first half, the execution was nonexistent. Isaiah Crowell summed up the Browns first half with his touchdown celebration.
On offense, Tyrod Taylor was a mess. Taylor could not get anything going and late in the second quarter; he had only completed 4 passes on 19 attempts for 19 yards. It doesn’t get much worse than that. Unfortunately, to make matters worse for Taylor, he had to leave the game late in the second quarter with a head injury.
I knew what time it was, you knew what time it was, and the entire city of Cleveland knew what time it was because number six was about to enter the game.
It was Baker time.
From his first throw, the game changed dramatically as Baker Mayfield fired a rocket to Jarvis Landry over the middle.
The drive ended with a field goal, and at the half, it was 14-3. In my mind, I knew this game was about to change because the number one pick was now in at quarterback. The relaxed and methodical Taylor was replaced with the fiery underdog that fans fell in love with at Oklahoma. Mayfield has always shined when the lights are brightest and boy, did he deliver.
When Carlos Hyde punched in his second touchdown of the game to take the lead, listen to the Cleveland crowd erupt. This reaction has not been heard in that stadium for well over two decades.
When all was said and done, the beer coolers were opened up in Cleveland because for the first time in almost two years; the Browns won a game with the final score of 21-17. Mayfield finished the night with 17 completions on 23 attempts for just over 200 yards, but it was his energy and leadership that stood out. Mayfield is the type of quarterback that thrives under pressure. Just by watching the game, you could see that Mayfield injected the entire Browns roster with a much-needed boost of charisma and swagger. The way Mayfield carried himself on the field is something that a veteran would do, not a rookie.
Put aside what you thought about the quarterbacks going into last year’s draft regarding talent. Look at each quarterback by their attitude and intangibles. There’s only one quarterback that fits the mold of the Cleveland Browns, and that’s Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has always had a chip on his shoulder his whole life. Mayfield was a walk-on not once, but twice in college. Despite winning 34/40 games at Oklahoma and the Heisman trophy, scouts still doubted Mayfield’s ability in the NFL because of his size and strength. This grit and tenacity are exactly what the city of Cleveland represents. It’s a blue-collar, “bring your lunch pale to work” type of city full of hardworking people. That is the epitome of Baker Mayfield.
I understand that this was one game and that one game does not make up for all of the heartbreak and disappointment that Browns’ fans have experienced over the years. That being said, Mayfield gave Browns fans something to cheer about for at least one night. He gave them someone to believe in on the football field. Is Mayfield the savior of the Browns? Only time will tell, but if history repeats itself, don’t doubt Mayfield.