Tyrod Taylor will take a back seat to rookie Baker Mayfield, but the Browns made clear the veteran quarterback will play a pivotal role moving forward.
Cleveland named Mayfield its starter after a brilliant performance in Thursday night’s 21-17 win over the Jets in which the youngster replaced an injured Taylor shortly before halftime.
Taylor struggled before suffering a concussion with 3:01 to play in the second quarter and remains in the league’s protocol. When he returns to the field, there is no doubt, head coach Hue Jackson said, that the 29-year-old remains a part of the team’s plans.
“He’s going to be right here. He’s not going anywhere,” he said. “I think that’s important. Like I said, I think part of Baker’s being able to play like he did was because of Tyrod and Drew. So I don’t want to upset that room that way. I don’t think there is any reason to.
“Tyrod is going to be needed. He’s the backup quarterback on this team if he is healthy, and he’s played. His teammates know who he is and how he goes about the rhythm of his game. So I think it’s always good to have that kind of depth at that position especially if we’re traveling down this road — which we are.”
Taylor was named Cleveland’s starter March 15 after being traded to the Browns following three seasons with the Bills. He set multiple team records and led Buffalo to its first playoff appearance in 17 years last season.
Though the plan was to sit Mayfield behind Taylor this fall, Jackson said he needs to do what’s best for the team and organization both now and in the future. Taylor, the 29-year-old veteran who earned the respect of his teammates both on and off the field, took the news like a pro, Jackson said.
“He’s a professional. Obviously he’s competitive. Nobody wants to hear that they’re going in a different direction, but he understands it, too,” he said.
“I think the most important thing he wants is to get healthy and make sure he’s ready to help the football team. But again, any competitor is disappointed in that situation, but he’s a pro.”
In three starts, Taylor completed 49 percent of his passes for 462 yards, two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. That slow start from the former Pro Bowler, Jackson said, partly falls on a new-look offense that’s still coming into its own early in the season.
“We didn’t do a lot of things early on offense in my opinion to help Tyrod. There were some blown assignments and mental errors we had that let some people had some free runners at him,” Jackson said, pointing to a shaky first half against the Jets last week.
“We put him in a tough spot, too, so it was not just Tyrod neither. But obviously we got those things shored up pretty quickly there as we started the second half to where we could protect Baker better, and he made some plays with his arm.”
Once Taylor is healthy, Jackson expects the vet to keep doing what he’s been doing since coming to Cleveland — only this time in a new role.
“He’s going to do what he needs to do to keep helping this football team win,” he said.
— Part of that (along with veteran Drew Stanton) will be helping Mayfield prepare for his first-career start against the Raiders in Oakland. That’s no small task in what’s considered one of the league’s rowdier stadiums.
"Anytime that you play on the road, it’s a great opportunity to see what your team is made of,” Mayfield said. “It’s kind of your back is against the wall. It’s just your team, just the team that you bring and you travel with. It is always exciting with that. Then, you add in the perspective of the Black Hole. It is a hostile environment. You want to see how your team is going to react.”
The Raiders (0-3) fell to the Dolphins in Miami this past weekend.
— Carlos Hyde had a big Thursday night in more ways than one. On his 28th birthday, the Browns running back combined for 103 yards and two touchdowns before bolting the stadium to see the birth of his first child.
“It was a handful of a day right there,” the former Ohio State standout said. “Just being at the hospital, getting to the game, playing the game, and then having to get back to the hospital. Then my son was actually born two hours later after the game.” Hyde’s son is named Carlos Jr.
— Jackson said free safety Damarious Randall, who was questionable Thursday with a heel injury, should be able to go this weekend. The former first-round pick is still being bothered by the ailment, but “I think he’ll be fine.”