Baker Mayfield had been working behind Tyrod Taylor and Drew Stanton for the first two weeks, finally serving as backup quarterback Tuesday. It was the one open session to the media this week – and that further fueled the rampant speculation over the last several weeks about a possible quarterback war.
Baker Mayfield Making an Impact at Cleveland Browns OTAs
Coach Hue Jackson was quick to allay the talk. As reported by Mary Kay Kabot of cleveland.com, Jackson said, “I just mixed it up. There’s nothing behind that… I made a decision this week with the staff to make him second and get him some reps there and that’s just going to go as we go. There’s nothing to it, nobody should read into it. It’s an opportunity to go out there a little bit sooner than he has, that’s all.”
As it turns out, the promotion doesn’t increase Mayfield’s reps. It does, however, increase the quality of his supporting cast. It also provides him with the opportunity to throw to different receivers and build a rapport with them. Chemistry between a quarterback and his receivers is paramount, and the coaches’ decision to get this sorted now is just what the franchise needs.
Jackson is relieved he doesn’t have to divide the first-team reps this year as he did the last two seasons. As for the War of the Quarterbacks – well that has been the result of over-zealous Mayfield fans, convinced their quarterback has the goods to start his career big.
Jackson is clear on where he stands. “We have a starting quarterback. Tyrod has still got to get those reps, those reps are really important. Tyrod is the starter. He goes with the ones all the time and with Baker we’re bringing him along. We’re teaching him the National Football League. He’s done an outstanding job, working hard every day and making the most of his reps, but it is comforting to know for our team that we do have a starting quarterback.”
Baker Mayfield’s accuracy to the back pylon >>> pic.twitter.com/Z7ymlyrdmo
— Jordan Zirm (@clevezirm) June 5, 2018
Mayfield, shockingly struggled on the first day of the OTAs open to the media, throwing three interceptions, but according to Kabot, has gotten consistently better.
He’s eager to move up the rotation and knows how important it is to gel with the team. “It’s a good opportunity for me to get different reps with the different guys. You want to learn your players, you want to learn your receivers, what they’re good at and get timing down with them. It’s just an opportunity to get a feel for everybody and get comfortable with the team.”
Mayfield needs to learn to play under center, never having done it before. And according to Jackson, he has thus far done well in his first attempts. “As you see, we haven’t had any balls on the ground… So he’s done a good job that way.”
The Browns begin mandatory full-squad minicamp next week, and the pace and intensity will definitely pick up.
Mayfield admitted that the learning curve was steeper than he anticipated, so he’ll make the most of minicamp, feeding his thirst for knowledge and experience. “With minicamp coming up, doing it in longer days and more walkthroughs, meetings, I’m just looking forward to that. It’s more knowledge, more time to learn. Every day is an opportunity.”
There have been some notable good moments for this rookie. He threw a touchdown pass to C.J. Board at the back on the end zone. There was a long run, decided on his own after a play broke –down. He tossed a deep seam route to tight end Darren Fells and a short ball to Corey Coleman, who ran for a touchdown.
Working with strong defense, not just finding his receivers, will prove beneficial to Mayfield, who would’ve been sacked twice and was almost picked off by cornerback E.J. Gaines.
Anyone following Mayfield through his college career knows he has always strived to do better than what’s expected of him. And that certainly won’t change in his professional life. “I set my own expectations… for me, the pace has been a little bit slower than I really wanted it… you’re learning a new offense and going up against the best competition possible… there’s been a learning curve. But I’ve made some strides within the past week of practice that I’m proud of, and that’s all I can continue to do… keep striving.”
This is the kind of self-assured talk that we can expect from a future franchise quarterback.