Browns struggle to find the right balance between veteran and rookie quarterback

AP

Because the Cleveland Browns have had so many starting quarterbacks since returning to the NFL in 1999, the franchise has experienced just about every way possible to blow their chance at developing a franchise quarterback. That 19-year history invites significant angst as the Browns now try to balance relying on a veteran for whom they gave up a third-round draft pick against the rookie in whom they entrusted the first overall selection in the draft.

Coach Hue Jackson recently reiterated that Tyrod Taylor is the starter, period.

“That is why we traded for him,” Jackson told reporters. “That is what he is here for. He is here to lead this organization to winning. I think Tyrod Taylor will do that.”

OK, so what if Jackson is right? What if Taylor does indeed lead the organization to winning? It’s a question posed Saturday on Twitter by former NFL receiver Andrew Hawkins, who spent three years with the Browns and now has a budding media career: What happens if Tyrod Taylor takes a team that has won one game in two years to the playoffs?

Taylor becomes a free agent in 2019. Can the Browns afford to let him walk away if he ends a 16-year postseason drought? Would they sign him to a long-term deal, paying him starter money? Or would they apply the franchise tag, paying him roughly as much for one year as rookie Baker Mayfield will make in four and kicking the can for a year?

It’s a delicate balance — arguably minefield — for the Browns. Wait too long to flip to Mayfield, and Taylor could win the hearts and minds of Browns fans. Go with Mayfield too early, and perhaps he ends up having his confidence shattered, in the same way last year’s rookie starter DeShone Kizer‘s was, especially after Jackson repeatedly benched and unbenched Kizer as he struggled without the benefit of a high level of talent around him or a high level of coaching acumen.

Remember what all-time draft bust Ryan Leaf said about Mayfield before the draft?

“The biggest thing for me will be how he deals with failure,” said Leaf, who said that when he listened to Mayfield speak, Leaf heard himself. “That’s where my downfall was, when things began to fall apart, how I was able to deal with that. When the media is on you, you play a bad game, your whole city is on you, that’s where we’ll see where Baker Mayfield is at. . . .  Right now there’s no evidence to back up that when things get tough, he won’t break.”

So the Browns don’t plan to throw Mayfield into the fire right away. Just like they didn’t throw Brady Quinn into the fire right away in 2007, and Derek Anderson won 10 games and nearly took the Browns to the postseason. Which forced the Browns to keep Anderson for 2008, setting up an Anderson-or-Quinn controversy that ended with both guys failing.

Maybe the Browns know that the playoffs are a virtual impossibility, and that “winning” under Taylor is a relative term. If they get to 5-11 after winning four games in three seasons, that’s winning. If they get to 6-10 or 7-9, that’s cause for a parade (the good kind).

And if they someone crack .500 and land in the playoff chase, the Browns will consider that a good problem to have, until they have to solve it. And solving it could mean testing Mayfield’s ability to handle failure arising not from what happens on the field, but from his inability to even get there.

69 responses to “Browns struggle to find the right balance between veteran and rookie quarterback

  1. As it presently stands the following teams have a franchise qb in place:
    New england
    Indy , assuming luck is healthy
    San diego
    Pittsburgh
    Philadelphia ( might have two)
    Green bay
    Detroit
    Los angeles
    Possibly san fran

    The rest are a smorgasboard of up and down guys who can be counted on to do onemthing and that is be wildly inconsistent. So the browns are far from alone. In fact i’d rather have mayfield coming in fresh over any of the guys i didn’t mention

  2. Yea, Leaf, Johnny Unitas wept and sobbed and was a failure after the Steelers cut him.
    All life is built on gaining from failures, usually much more than the successes!

  3. I want to see Hue Jackson mess this up.
    How doe s a HC go 1-15 then 0-16 and still keep his job?
    Will he do to Mayfield what Jeff Fisher did to Goff his first year?

  4. Tyrod is a capable enough scrambler for today, giving Browns time to develop Baker. Seems an ok setup to me, I’d worry about a who-do-we-start-in-the-playoffs if and when it happens.

  5. Tyrod will be benched the first time he struggles. The Bills did the same unfortunately his replacement was an interception machine. Mayfield takes care of the football.

  6. Simplifying it for you, “Browns struggle”. That’s not news, that’s their business model.

  7. Forget everything you know about the history of the Browns for a moment and just wrap your head around who they choose to employ as a coach. Hue Jackson is just not a good head coach. You can’t reboot when you keep the old pair of boots around. No matter what the circumstances, having a guy who is 1-31, who could care less if he were 1-100 or more as long as he has a sweet paying gig, is why the Browns struggle. Ownership struggles balancing reality.

  8. The Browns chances of being in the playoffs are equal to winning the lottery, being struck by lightning and being attacked by a bear in the same day.

  9. While Leaf is the last person to take advice from he does have a point. When things get heated Mayfield has displayed some childish behavior, just like Leaf. Unless Mayfield can grow up we may see similar things from him. I don’t think Mayfield will be happy just mailing it in like Leaf did but it’ll be interesting to see what happens when they are losing every game like the Browns always do. Mayfield has a very checkered history even before going to Oklahoma.

    “If Baker Mayfield wants to blame TCU for 128 BCS schools not offering him a scholarship, that’s fine. But ask Kliff Kingsbury why he didn’t offer him a scholarship at Texas Tech. Ask about Baker’s dad [James]. He’s an arrogant guy who thinks he knows everything. If people knew the whole story, they might not have a great opinion of Baker or his father.”

    Sounds an awful lot like Johnny Goofball. It wouldn’t surprise me to see Mayfield go down in a ball of flames this year. It’s no big surprise. The Browns are the black hole for QBs.

  10. The Factory of Sadness is 1-31 with Hue. Todd Haley will be head coach by the bye week & the headline will be: “Browns struggle with the transition to the 7th coach since 2009.”

  11. If Taylor actually has huge success in Cleveland, then you tag/sign him and trade Mayfield to the Patriots. If they were honestly willing to trade up to get him, then they’ll probably at least hand back the 1st rd pick the Browns spent to get him. Win-win for everyone.

  12. Whichever decision they end up making it will be the wrong one when all is said and done. These are the Browns we are talking about.

  13. This is a pretty negligent comment. Leaf was on drugs, lazy and hated by his teammates. Mayfield is none of these things. Johnny Manziel had an alcohol problem and was suffering from a mental illness. Baker Mayfield’s attitude might be a problem at the next level but his other attributes haven’t been questioned like those guys are/were.

  14. I want to see Hue Jackson mess this up.

    I’d rather see the Browns win some damn games.

  15. The fact that Hue Jackson was Biblically proclaiming a starter in friggin April and stubbornly beating that into the ground epitomizes why Hue Jackson is a crap coach and why the Browns are always doomed. Didn’t they learn anything from the Manziel debacle? STOP PROCLAIMING STARTERS IN THE SPRING!

  16. Things have gone rough for Baker Mayfield before and he’s shown that he has the mental capacity to adapt and master his environment. I’m not quite sure what Ryan Leaf is talking about. In the face of adversity Baker Mayfield will punch adversity in the mouth. Hes not one of these QBs that had it easy throughout his amateur days it took the desire and intensity to take his game to the next level. He’s going to be alright. He has the mental makeup of a successful Professional ball player.

    All Baker Mayfield needs is a backup QB like Scott Tolzien. Scott Tolzien was Alex Smith’s backup with the 49ers and he helped Alex prepare for gameday and was his extra set of eyes on the field. In his 30’s he’ll be a tremendous asset to Baker Mayfield. I’m surprised the Resksins don’t sign him, but average coaches undervalue the backup QB position.


  17. The Truth says:
    May 6, 2018 at 11:47 am

    As it presently stands the following teams have a franchise qb in place:
    New england
    Indy , assuming luck is healthy
    San diego
    Pittsburgh
    Philadelphia ( might have two)
    Green bay
    Detroit
    Los angeles
    Possibly san fran”

    #1 San Diego no longer fields a team.

    #2: Even if you have doubts about Carr, Cousins, Mariota, Winston, and Watson, How in the HELL can you leave Brees, Ryan, Newton, and Wilson off that list while you include Jimmy G, Wents, and Goff?

  18. With Tyrod Taylor, they will not have to worry about a QB controversy (or winning). It won’t happen, unless you call 8-8 winning. What you’ve seen is what you get.

    In the words of the immortal Parcels, “You are what your record says you are”. In Taylor’s case, that’s m-e-d-i-o-c-r-e. Taylor will play himself into the position his talent calls for, i.e. backup QB.

  19. The real question is the nature of the offensive scheme Haley installs. Is it customized for Taylor (running QB, mobile offensive line, pulling guards, zone option and half field reads) or one based on quick reads, snap passes, downhill running game for Baker Mayfield? Ten other guys have to be trained in the choreographed run game Mayfield needs or trained to change on the fly if Taylor scrambles. Pro Football Focus estimates that if Taylor is the QB he will carry the ball 72 times (assuming he survives 16 games) or 4 – 5 times per game. In 2017 he was sacked 45 times and PFF predicts 36 sacks as Cleveland’s QB. That means that Taylor will be hit 117 times by much larger men in 16 games. He’s listed as 6 feet tall and 217 pounds. He’s had multiple knee injuries (at least three reported), multiple high ankle sprains, shoulder injuries, groin injuries, core muscle surgery and concussions. Only Hue Jackson would pronounce him the starter and force Haley to install an offense that will stunt Mayfield’s development and guarantee a bad season. The pundits remind us that Taylor “protected the football” with 14 touchdowns and 4 interceptions. 14 touchdowns in 509 drop backs? This is the guy you want to build your offense around? Is Hue Jackson pulling another one of his political games so he can blame Haley and “prove” Mayfield was the wrong pick? Jackson’s got to go or he will ruin the Browns 2018 season. The Haslams don’t have a clue what they did when they saddled Dorsey with Jackson. Maybe a homeless guy can convince them of the need to put a professional head coach in place ASAP.

  20. I would have eliminated some words from that headline, it really should read “Browns Struggle to find Quarterback”. Not only did this team pass on the best offensive player in Barkley, they passed on the best defensive player in Chubb. Imagine this draft, Barkley #1 overall, Chub #4 overall, and then they trade back into the first round with Philly and take Lamar Jackson. Jackson sits for a year and Taylor gets his shot. Imagine a backfield with Barkley & Jackson !!

    Alas what would have been poor Browns fans…

  21. Browns struggle to find the right balance between….*fill in the blank*

    drafting
    trading
    evaluating talent
    hiring coaches
    hiring general managers
    marketing
    uniforms

  22. Baker Mayfield has tenacity, leadership, awareness, the mental capacity to adapt and master his environment, he will punch adversity in the mouth, kick self-denial in the teeth, and master the art of being a QB in Cleveland. If only he was athletic, had some speed, and was big and strong.

  23. What round was Kizer drafted? They literally waste picks on the worst prospects. It’s like someone high up has a fetish with just getting high draft picks every year. Someone within that organization secretly feels joy over that 1-31 record.

  24. If I could have one wish for the season, this Steeler fan would get at least 10 Browns’ victories. That might, and I do mean might, quiet some of the nonsense we read here.

  25. pj1983a says:
    May 6, 2018 at 12:35 pm
    If Taylor actually has huge success in Cleveland, then you tag/sign him and trade Mayfield to the Patriots. If they were honestly willing to trade up to get him, then they’ll probably at least hand back the 1st rd pick the Browns spent to get him. Win-win for everyone.
    ————————————
    Mayfield “should” develop into the better choice, so if over next 2yrs Tyrod proves better than Mayfield, it means Mayfield wasn’t as advertised and Pats won’t break out big picks to get him.

  26. John has built a team with enough talent to have a winning record.

    Hue is the bottle neck in that happening. Hue will be fired. He’s completely clueless to what’s going on and off the field. The problem will be that the Browns win 4 games and his ego and hubris will kick in – preventing them from maximizing the team’s potential.

    The players know Hue is an empty headset too.

  27. jackedupboonie says:
    May 6, 2018 at 1:38 pm
    What round was Kizer drafted? They literally waste picks on the worst prospects. It’s like someone high up has a fetish with just getting high draft picks every year. Someone within that organization secretly feels joy over that 1-31 record.
    ——————————————————-
    Kizer was drafted by the Sashi Brown regime that was interested more in stockpiling draft picks rather than building a team to “win now.” There’s a new sheriff in Browns Town in new Browns GM Dorsey. He is the man that will finally turn the Browns around.

  28. “Because the Cleveland Browns have had so many starting quarterbacks since returning to the NFL in 1999, the franchise has experienced just about every way possible to blow their chance at developing a franchise quarterback.”

    No…it’s the other way around: Because the Browns have found every way possible to blow their chance at developing a franchise QB, they have had many starting qBs since returning to the NFL in 1999.

  29. Personally, If Taylor can get the team to 8-8, I think the Browns would be happy to have the problem of a decent QB and a quality rookie, even if the rookie is untested. There’s no downside to sitting Mayfield a second year if Taylor looks like he can keep improving; think Rogers/Farve or Young/Montana. On the other hand, after a year of decent football, they may figure that’s Taylor’s ceiling and be more than happy to let him go. That’s what the Bills did after he led them to the playoffs. There’s no story here.
    And as for Hue, you can’t keep faulting the Browns for having a crappy team and then complaining it’s the coach’s fault they don’t win. Lose with a good team and you’re a bad coach. Lose with bad team and you’re just losing with a bad team. Hue was trying to win, evaluate players, keep the ones he wanted/needed, be an O coordinator AND a head coach all at the same time. Some of that is on him, some on the organization. And yes, he made some stupic moves. But for now, he seems be focused on being the Head Coach, which is what he needs to be. We’ll see what happens.

  30. It depends on what the Browns consider success this season. What is the measuring bar for the team and ownership? If you fail to hit that then why? If it was QB play then you change QB. If the QB did great and is not to blame you stick with what you have.
    I suspect Cleveland isn’t even sure what they would consider success this year and already have a playbook of Tyrod this year and Mayfield next regardless of how this season goes. And I think that right there is Cleveland’s biggest issue, just flying blind

  31. To dismiss what Leaf says is just foolish. If there’s anyone who knows what failure due to your own demons and mental weakness is, it’s Ryan Leaf. He’s completely owned up to it and hasn’t blamed anyone else but the guy in the mirror. He’s talked a lot about he did or didn’t do which contributed to being one of the biggest busts in sports history. He recognizes all the warning signs in players and was outspoken about Manziel BEFORE the draft. Listen to what this man says.

  32. Hue Jackson is doing his best impression of Jeff Fisher. We saw what happened to Jared Goff once Fisher left the organization. I think Hue is in over his head.

  33. MacGuffin says:
    May 6, 2018 at 12:56 pm

    only Buffalo is a worse run organization
    _________________________________

    There is no worse run organization in Pro sports than Jimmy Haslam’s Browns.

  34. What if Taylor leads the Browns to winning?

    Answer is then it would be assumed that Mayfield could also win with the team which is why they picked him 1st overall.

    None of the Browns previous drafted QB’s have been 1st overall or even top 20 other than Tim Couch. Most of them weren’t even first rounders so there was never an expectation that these people would ever see the field let alone win. The Browns are a team with a QB injury problem, not a QB development problem. They have had more wins with young third string QB’s than any other team in the league (Derek Anderson being one of those) so obviously its lack of consistency, not development that is their downfall. Cleveland is looking for something they haven’t had in the modern era and that’s a QB that can actually stay healthy for 16 straight games.

  35. Bills fans have been saying that tyrod isn’t a qb..but NOOOOOO…tyrod is the starter hu said..ALREADY FLIP FLOPPING ..GOOD LUCK BROWNS !!! U HAVE A RB Trying to play Qb iN Taylor…Great Guy but not a Qb..Mayfield is the Qb !!! if Hu doesn’t play him..you’ll be 1-47…..in last 3 yrs

  36. The last time Cleveland drafted a QB in the top 10 was 1999. Every other QB has been a lower 1st round or later. The Rest have been free agent signings, backup or ones on their downside. Let’s not pretend that they’ve drafted on at the first spot for 20 straight years. You have a long list of franchises who’ve taken later round QBs that haven’t developed into anything as well. At least sprinkle a bit of information in the trolling.

  37. The Chargers were better clock management and a field goal away from this being back-to-back 0-16 Browns teams. Tyrod Taylor was brought in so we can at least win. This team is 4-44 over the past 3 seasons and has sank below the standard set since 1999. The Browns would take a Mangini or Shurmur-esque 4-12 or 5-11 season. The sooner the Browns win the better or you won’t have Hue to kick around anymore (I’m thinking October on a short hook). If Tyrod gets this team to the playoffs then give him a huge deal. Then debate this all you want if that happens.

  38. There is no reason to believe that Tyrod Taylor will lead the Browns to the playoffs. Will they win some games with him at quarterback? Probably. They can’t go winless two years in a row….can they??? In fact, I’m predicting 3 or 4 wins for the Browns this year. That won’t be enough for Taylor to keep his starting job if they’re anxious to get Mayfield onto the field. In games where the Browns are being blown out, they’ll pull Taylor for Mayfield and let him get some game experience. If he looks half decent, they’ll make him the starter by the end of the year. I do believe that’s the most likely scenario.

  39. nhpats says:
    May 6, 2018 at 12:32 pm
    You give BB the Browns and he has them in the playoffs next season
    ________________________________________________________________
    Only if he brings TB12 with him..

    LOL – Didnt he already coach them? How did that turn out?

  40. Tyrod Taylor, as a winning QB and leading the Browns anywhere, merely exists in the mind of Huey Jackson. Which one goes first is unknown, but both will be gone by year’s end.

  41. Let me ask this…what would the Vikings record have been with Tyrod at QB over Keenum? My guess would be not much worse. Tyrod is a poor man’s Alex Smith and is more than capable of winning games. I think they know this, and that is why they traded for him. That being said, if that were the case, you draft Chubb and Nelson to improve both lines (tho I agree Ward filled a bigger need than Chubb.) But hey, maybe Mayfield is THAT guy…I mean by now they should have at least stumbled across a QB just by dumb luck.

  42. So the Browns should be freaking out about this before we even get to OTAs? Before seeing either QB actually play in the team’s uniform? Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

    Any team without a bona fide QB1 (so the majority of NFL teams) faces this issue the moment they draft a rookie QB. Maybe let this new front office and altered coaching staff actually begin its first season of football before assuming they’ll have any more trouble figuring it out than any other team will.

    I get it: the Browns are the easiest of targets. And deservedly so. But this is just plain silly.

  43. Can the Browns afford to let him walk away if he ends a 16-year postseason drought?
    ————————————————————————–

    Uh….Yeah!

    Signed: Bills fans everywhere!!

    Browns will win some games but it will have nothing to do with Tyrod’s ability to play QB. Teams win in spite of Tyrod, not because of him.

  44. Much to do about nothing. The Browns will win some games this year. Not many, but some. Certainly not enough to think of keeping Mayfield on the bench. I like getting Taylor as the stand-in QB, but he’ll show that he’s not franchise by throwing a pick or two in the clutch or not coming from behind when the Browns will have a chance near the end of a couple of games.

    All that matters is if/when Mayfield is ready to start. He needs work and Taylor (and Stanton) allows the Browns not to rush the kid onto the field until he’s truly ready. The best part of all of this is that maybe, just maybe the Browns actually have the folks in charge who are making good decisions. There’s a long way to go, but, so far, it’s been a good start overall.

  45. Darryl Williams says:
    May 6, 2018 at 10:55 pm
    nhpats says:
    May 6, 2018 at 12:32 pm
    You give BB the Browns and he has them in the playoffs next season
    ________________________________________________________________
    Only if he brings TB12 with him..

    LOL – Didnt he already coach them? How did that turn out?

    ———-

    He took them to the playoffs and beat the Parcells’ coached Patriots in the postseason.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!