Browns QB Situation

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Browns QB Situation

Photo by Erik Drost via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Photo by Erik Drost via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

Photo by Erik Drost via Wikimedia Commons under Creative Commons license

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Last year, the Cleveland Browns finished with an 0-16 record. Not only was that the worst record in the NFL that year, but it was also the worst record in NFL history. That record gave them the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, where they selected quarterback Baker Mayfield from the University of Oklahoma.

The Browns also traded a 2019 third-round pick to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for veteran quarterback Tyrod Taylor. Now that there are two capable quarterbacks in Cleveland, that creates an important question: Which quarterback should be the starter?

On one hand, there’s Baker Mayfield. Baker Mayfield was a walk-on for the 2013 Texas Tech football team as a true freshman, and he was named the starter after projected starter Michael Brewer was injured prior to the start of the season. He started five games before losing the starting job to fellow true freshman Davis Webb. It was then announced after the season that he would transfer to the University of Oklahoma and walk on for the Sooners football team.

Baker Mayfield sat out the 2014 season due to transfer rules and started for the Sooners from 2015 through 2017. During his tenure at Oklahoma, he was a Heisman Trophy finalist all three years and he won the award in his 2017 season. He also led the Sooners to two College Football Playoff appearances but lost in the semifinals each time.

Though his abilities on the football field were nothing short of impressive, Baker Mayfield’s antics sometimes raised concerns.

After the Sooners beat the Ohio State Buckeyes on the road in 2017, Mayfield planted the Oklahoma University flag in the middle of the field. This caused backlash among sports fans and Mayfield later apologized.

Against Kansas in 2017, Mayfield was seen on the sideline grabbing his crotch and mouthing “F— you!” to the opposing sideline. He later issued a public apology and was not allowed to start the Sooners’ next game against the West Virginia Mountaineers.

Mayfield was also arrested on February 25, 2017, for public intoxication and fleeing charges. He pleaded not guilty to the charges and was ordered by the University of Oklahoma to serve 35 hours of community service and complete an alcohol education program.

Baker Mayfield makes a strong case for the starting quarterback job. He performed well in training camp and failed to throw a single interception over the first few days of camp. He has also performed well in the NFL Preseason, going 11-20 on pass attempts for 212 yards and two touchdowns in his first game. To top it off, Mayfield is heavily hyped by football fans. People want to see Mayfield play and see if he meets the lofty expectations that come with being selected first overall.

“I think Mayfield should start because the Browns need to make a statement, and they can’t do that with a game manager like Tyrod Taylor. Mayfield showed real, NFL-level play during the NFL Preseason with his decision-making and ability to make something out of nothing. If the Browns have their quarterback of the future then they need to get him experience fast, and there’s no better way to do that than having him start while Tyrod mentors him from the sidelines,” said Charlie Skutt, Senior.

On the other hand, there’s Tyrod Taylor, who is somewhat of a deity to the Blacksburg community. He led the Virginia Tech Hokies to a 31-10 record over his three full years as the starting quarterback, and he won both of Virginia Tech’s appearances in the ACC Championship game in that time.

“Tyrod Taylor was an important figure to me while I was growing up. I remember tailgating before Virginia Tech games and being excited to see Tyrod Taylor. I was also at the 2010 ACC Championship game where Virginia Tech won the game and Tyrod Taylor was named MVP,” said Connor Osborne, Senior.

After his senior season, Taylor was drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens. He served as the backup to Joe Flacco from 2011 until 2014 and earned a championship ring in Super Bowl XLVII.

In 2015 he signed a contract with the Buffalo Bills and was selected to the Pro Bowl that season as a replacement for Cam Newton, who would miss the Pro Bowl for Super Bowl L. He was also selected as an alternate for the Pro Bowl in the 2016 season, but declined due to injury. In the 2017 season, he led the Bills to their first playoff appearance in 18 years, and the Bills lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars 10-3 in the Wild Card Round. On March 9, 2018, the Bills traded Taylor to the Cleveland Browns.

Tyrod Taylor also makes a strong case for the starting job. He has seven years of NFL experience and three years of experience as a starter, which gives the Browns a proven quarterback that can help them win immediately. Taylor also represents a lack of character concerns. Taylor has never been in legal trouble and is known for wearing expensive suits and frequently holding autograph sessions with fans. In addition to these factors, Taylor has also performed well in the NFL Preseason. In his first Preseason game, he went a perfect 5-5 for 99 yards and a touchdown, before being relieved by Baker Mayfield.

For now, Tyrod Taylor is the starter. Browns head coach Hue Jackson has repeatedly said that Taylor will start the season and will set an example for Baker Mayfield.

“Nothing’s changed,” said Hue Jackson. “Tyrod Taylor is our starter. Baker Mayfield is a young, talented player that has a bright, bright future.”

While Taylor is locked in as the starter, it is possible that Mayfield will start at some point this season. If Taylor sustains an injury, Mayfield will start in his place, and if the Browns find themselves losing early in the season, there will be pressure on Hue Jackson to start Mayfield to see if he can push the Browns in the right direction.

There is still one week left in the Preseason, and Mayfield has one more opportunity to prove his case for the starting job when he starts against the Detroit Lions on August 30. Whether or not his performance will sway Hue Jackson is yet to be seen.

“Tyrod Taylor should start because he’s a better quarterback with much more experience. Baker Mayfield could also use some time on the bench because it will teach him respect, humble him, and force him to work harder,” said Andy Via, Senior.

“Tyrod Taylor should start over him [Mayfield] because while Mayfield has greater potential, at the moment he’s more skilled than Baker. Though I do want to see Mayfield start,” said Kaleb Edwards, Senior.