Well here we go, Cleveland — it’s finally time to start playing games against other teams. In the grand scheme of things, the outcome doesn’t matter, but there were so many story lines and tidbits that came out of last night’s game.
Let’s start with the quarterbacks. How refreshing is it to see the Browns have an actual, competent quarterback play? And I’m not even talking about the no. 1 pick Baker Mayfield — I’m talking about Tyrod Taylor, who came in and commanded the offense with professionalism and confidence that hasn’t been seen since the Browns returned in 1999. Right away Taylor was in complete control of the team when he started the game throwing a great back shoulder pass to Jarvis Landry, who made the catch and then got flagged for taunting after talking with Giants’ DB Janoris Jenkins and spinning the ball on the ground (as a result of the smack-talking, Landry got a 15-yard penalty). The officials appeared to be overly sensitive in preseason. I highly doubt that flag is thrown in a regular season game.
Tyrod’s best play of the game happened a short time after when he connected with Tight End David Njoku down the seam after seeing the linebacker blitzing on that side. He put the ball right on Njoku where he could catch the ball in stride and maintain the step he had on the defender covering him and easily glide into the end zone. Taylor did as much as you could want him to do as the starter of the team. Bravo, Tyrod.
Before we get to Baker Mayfield, I want to mention how well I thought the defense looked. The improved secondary was so evident and the LB’s play was very solid. Mychal Kendricks had a very nice sack on Eli Manning. Myles Garrett looked very good in run defense working sideline to sideline. As much as Cleveland fans want to talk about the quarterbacks (and that’s what this blog ultimately is about), I think the first-team defense was as impressive as anything last night.
Now to get to the no. 1 pick this year’s NFL Draft, Baker Reagan Mayfield. So much of his performance last night leads me to believe that Baker can and will be the QB of the future for this football team. He certainly showed why he was the no.1 pick in the draft with his performance. Last night was the first time Mayfield stepped onto an NFL field, which is a situation that can be so daunting for so many that have been drafted by the Cleveland Browns, but the moment and the spotlight never got to Baker. He looked every bit the part last night with his play and demeanor, and he handled everything so well. The most impressive thing to me was his ability to move around the pocket and feel pressure as it comes, but keep his eyes down field, stay focused and throw the ball down the field with accuracy. There were a couple times where wide receivers didn’t run their routes correctly or Baker misfired his intended target, but that confusion is much easier to fix compared to pocket presence and mobility in the pocket. I am very encouraged by what I saw out of the no. 1 overall pick.
Overall, I felt it was a very positive night for the Browns and their direction moving forward. One other interesting tidbit was the Dez Bryant involvement on Twitter. He was live tweeting the Browns game last night and announced that he will be visiting teams as a free agent, including that he’d specifically be visiting the Browns and “Mr. Dorsey”. This is after Browns’ GM John Dorsey said that Bryant wouldn’t return his calls, so this should be an interesting next few days to see whether the interest on both sides is as strong as it seems.