Baker Mayfield reacted to the news the way you’d expect him to — calm, cool and collected.
The Browns named the unflappable rookie their starting quarterback Monday following a dazzling performance in Thursday night’s comeback win over the Jets in which Mayfield rallied the team to its first victory since Christmas Eve 2016.
Mayfield, who replaced an injured Tyrod Taylor and shined in the process, was unfazed by the magnitude of the moment.
This is, after all, why he’s here.
“It's an honor. That's what I wanted to be,” he said. “I'm happy, but it's just the beginning.”
Browns coach Hue Jackson came to the decision after Mayfield passed for 201 yards on 17-of-23 throws and looked every bit the franchise quarterback the Browns hope he’ll grow into someday.
Mayfield showed patience and poise in the pocket and was precise with his throws, leading a comeback that sent FirstEnergy Stadium and the city into a frenzy. Jackson and teammates said they could feel the rookie’s energy and confidence radiating around them. It was contagious.
“He’s the starting quarterback of this football team. We know that it is a long season, all kinds of things can happen, but Baker Mayfield is the starting quarterback of the team,” Jackson said in a news conference.
“There was nothing that I saw that he wasn’t ready to handle. He went out there into some tough situations, down 14 (points) late in the second quarter and handled all of that extremely well, and went and played well. He checked off every box for me as I looked to the things that I look to to make these kinds of decisions.”
It was the kind of showing that validated why the Browns tabbed Mayfield with the first-overall pick in the NFL Draft, choosing the former Oklahoma star and Heisman Trophy winner over a handful of other talented signal callers. They saw something special in Mayfield, who finished as one of college football’s most prolific players.
Since coming to Cleveland, Jackson has seen Mayfield grow grow and every week while representing himself well both on and off the field. Initially slated to backup Taylor, Mayfield didn’t complain or question the plan at hand. He trusted in a process the Browns have said they laid out to him long ago.
“You continued to see him growing and just getting better. I’m not surprised by what he did in the game,” Jackson said.
“I think that a lot of other people are. I don’t think that his teammates are. I do not think that the coaches are. I think that we knew, once he got his opportunity, he would go in there and nail it. That’s what he did.”
Mayfield is set to make his first-career start this weekend against the Raiders in Oakland. He’ll be the team’s 30th starting quarterback since 1999. The Browns hope he’s the last in that long line for some time.
Just like Thursday night, Mayfield is more than up for the challenge.
"Without pressure,” he said, “I don't think this would be very much fun.”