I never got to comment on the beginning of the Baker Mayfield era because apparently an S bomb warrants a near two week ban. Eyeroll.
That Jets game felt like the Cleveland Browns we've always known. It's our game to win, a weak opponent at home who realistically shouldn't win. Within minutes the excitement turns to frustration. The we'll-give-them-a-chance favoured Browns are humiliating themselves on national television. The offense is incapable, the defense begins to deflate, and I'm suddenly wondering just how many touchdowns we're going to lose by. I almost turned the game off when Crowell wiped his ass with the football and threw it into the dawgpound. I was angry and upset. In that moment, I was perfectly willing to see the whole thing blown up.
I promised myself I wouldn't do it, but watching on with my brother, I was calling for Mayfield. I appreciate Tyrod Taylor and all he's done, but it wasn't fair to watch the guy bashing his head against the wall. He was doing everything he could, and it amounted to nothing. Why put the rookie in to face that situation? Why risk humiliating him? Who cares, let's see what he's got.
I'm embarrassed to say it, but I felt a sense of relief when Tyrod when down. I didn't know if Jackson would pull the trigger, I couldn't blame him if he didn't do it, but Taylor's injury gave us the perfect opportunity; Baker can either look good, or he can look bad. In either case, there is no pressure, he's just backing-up as a back-up does.
What I didn't expect was what happened never. On a night that seemed so indicative of what the Cleveland Browns are, something so antithetical of what the Cleveland Browns are seemed so far out of reach.
From the moment Mayfield entered the game, everything was different. The broadcast showed him smiling in the huddle and patting someone on the helmet prior to spitting out the playcall. We're down by 14 and getting our asses kicked: I'm not accustomed to seeing energy in this situation.
It almost feels pompous to chronologically list what happened next. It feels dramatized. The game feels like a draft for the script of a sequel, opening with the game where the Draft Day film ended.
I've never seen anything like it. Baker was calm, controlled and methodically moved the ball. The game didn't look too fast for him, and at times he looked too fast for the game. It wasn't some heroic deep shot that turned the game but a continued series of throwing in which Mayfield consistently could not be stopped. The entire team clearly fed off that energy. The Cleveland Browns, in one night, stopped being the Cleveland Browns.
I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop. We've seen plenty of light at the end of the tunnel, one for the light to dissipate before even getting close to the revelation of what lies beyond the obscurity of "almost."
It never happened. Play after play, it just didn't.
In such a situation, I'm begging the clock to run down. Hit zero. Browns win. Frankly, I just didn't want it to end. I wanted another quarter. A third half. Play again. Rematch. As incredible as it was for the losing streak to end, the end of that game just felt like a delay in the new era of Browns football.
I wasn't the biggest fan of Mayfield in the draft. Wasn't against him the way I was a Josh Allen selection, but he wasn't my guy. My guy was the guy who looked hopelessly outmatched against Baker Mayfield and Cleveland's fervent pace. I didn't think Mayfield was ready, and I wanted him learning all year before putting his talents on display. On both accounts, it only took one game to feel like we've found a franchise quarterback.
With the above said, I won't run hot or cold. Peaks come with valleys, and I expect Mayfield will have his fair share of struggles over the next two years. It's part of the business, and as much as it feels like a fairytale right now, all fairy tales have their low point.
What we have seen, however, feels like the foundations of something to truly build on. Someone to be patient with. Someone who could legitimately be the franchise quarterback we've been so desperately looking for.
For now, however, I can't remember the last time being a Browns fan was so much damn fun.