Cleveland Browns: First Look at Baker Mayfield

Kate Arhar
Cleveland Browns Reporter

By Kate Arhar // @ClvlndK8 

While everyone knows that the Cleveland Browns finished a dismal 0-16 last year, few fans remember that they went an undefeated 4-0 in the preseason.

Does the preseason matter? Not really.  But there are still important lessons to be learned, schemes to master and starting position battles being fought.

Preseason Week 1, the Browns traveled to New Jersey to face the New York Giants and their rookie running back Saquon Barkley.  The game began with a couple solid series’ and seven points from veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor.

After trading with Buffalo to acquire Taylor in the offseason, Browns Head Coach Hue Jackson told everyone he would be the Starting QB for this year. And then Baker Mayfield was drafted #1 in April and the speculation began.

Did the three-quarters Mayfield played meet fans expectations? Is there a QB Controversy AGAIN in Cleveland? You make the call.

In the first two offensive series’ of the game, Tyrod Taylor went 5 for 5 for 99 yards, one touchdown and an 158.3 QB rating. And with that, he was done for the night. Veterans play very little in the first couple preseason games as their position on the depth chart should be pretty secure. It’s the Second and Third team guys battling to make the 53-man roster – let alone the starting lineup – that get most of the reps.

One of the best highlights of the entire game came in the second series for Taylor when wide receiver Jarvis Landry made an incredible pass that setup the next play to tight end David Njoku for 66 yards and the touchdown.

Enter Baker Mayfield. Fans have been debating the Browns strategy of – seemingly – giving Taylor the starting job and planning to bring Mayfield along slowly. There is no guarantee he would even see the field this year during the regular season based on how Taylor plays and how Mayfield himself progresses during the year.

In his debut, admittedly facing the Giants second defensive unit, his stat line looked pretty good:  11-20 passing, 212 yards, two TDs, zero INTs, 125.4 passer rating. Those are a really nice beginning and definitely give fans cause to hope that the Browns finally got it right in the draft, that this time the QB they selected would have the talent to actually keep the job!

Amidst the flurry of social media attention on the premiere of HBO’s Hard Knock Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns and the trade of third-year wide receiver Corey Coleman to Buffalo came the news that rookie WR Antonio Callaway had been arrested around 3:00 am Sunday morning and cited for possession of marijuana and driving on a suspended license.

So far, the team is supporting Callaway and his version of events. He had been elevated on the depth chart and played nearly every snap of the game. I tend to think all that work might have been a form of punishment, but I could be wrong.

Either way, the first half was pretty round with a couple dropped passes and a half-hearted effort in route running.  BUT the second half definitely brought adjustments to his attitude as well as his playing and he shows us with his speed exactly why the Browns took a chance on him in the draft in the first place.

With three receptions for 87 yards and one touchdown, the rookie looked really winded by the end of the game. I guess he’ll figure out real quick just how fast the NFL is and just how much better his conditioning needs to be to keep up with it.

Here’s a look at his touchdown reception. Mayfield puts the ball exactly where it needs to be so Callaway can catch it in stride, but it was his ability to break free of the tackle that allowed him to scamper on down the field to score. YAY.

This week’s game seemed to be all about the offense – specifically the passing game.  Hopefully, there will be more to talk about next week vs the Buffalo Bills regarding the running game, rookie RB Nick Chubb and perhaps even the Defense!

 

Talk Browns football with Kate on Twitter // @ClvlndK8 

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