Todd Haley has been around some of the NFL’s best quarterbacks. The new Browns offensive coordinator has worked with Ben Roethlisberger in Pittsburgh and Kurt Warner in Arizona.
So it was noteworthy when Haley, who joined head coach Hue Jackson’s staff after six seasons as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator said Cleveland’s group of signal callers — which includes starter Tyrod Taylor, No. 1 overall pick rookie Baker Mayfield and veteran Drew Stanton — is among the finest he’s been around.
“This is probably one of the best – if not the best – quarterbacks rooms, in general, that I’ve had,” Haley said Thursday as the Browns wrapped up offseason workouts.
“The group, in general, is what I’m excited about. I think that it’s an intelligent, intelligent group, with ability to throw the football and make plays with their legs, some of them. When you have that, I think that good things happen. Competition is created in the room, even though they’re working hard together to help each other and get better as a group.”
Haley’s comments are a breath of fresh air for a franchise that has long struggled at the quarterback position. Taylor, a three-year starter for the Bills and a 2015 Pro Bowler, gives the team a proven playmaker; Mayfield, the former Oklahoma star and Heisman Trophy winner, is its quarterback of the future; Stanton is a longtime (and perhaps underrated) veteran who has delivered in big moments.
Haley, who will oversee a new-look offense that also added Pro Bowl receiver Jarvis Landry, running back Carlos Hyde and returns Duke Johnson Jr., Josh Gordon and David Njoku among other promising weapons, also made clear Taylor is the leader of the bunch.
“I thought that Tyrod has done a tremendous, tremendous job of establishing himself as the leader of this offense. His car is there every morning in his spot when I get here in the morning, and it’s there when I’m leaving,” Haley said. “That’s what you’re looking for in the leader of your offense. I think that he’s done a great job with understanding the terminology, concepts and all of the different things. Like I said, we threw a lot at him. He’s more of a show what to do, more than by talking. I’ve really been impressed and encouraged by him.”
Mayfield, meanwhile, has made strides since coming to Cleveland. The 23-year-old remains a work in progress as he adjusts to the speed of the game, among other dynamics. The youngster, however, has demonstrated the promise you’d expect from a top draft pick.
“He has made very good progress,” Haley said, “but any time that you are a young player coming into this league – especially a quarterback – it is going to take time.”
Haley added the 33-year-old Stanton, who enters his 11th NFL season, probably doesn’t get the respect he deserves. Before coming to Cleveland, Stanton spent the past five years in Arizona as a backup to Carson Palmer and saw significant action when hen Palmer went down with an ACL injury in 2014.
“Drew Stanton doesn’t get talked about a lot,” Haley said, “but he’s a guy with a lot of experience that I never was with, but having watched him through this phase of what we are doing – the OTAs, phase one, phase two, whatever they are – he still has got some in the tank. He can throw the football. He’s extremely smart.”
Between Taylor, Mayfield, Stanton and rookie Brogan Roback, an undrafted free agent out of Eastern Michigan, Haley said the room has the potential to be special.
“When I talk about the room, I talk about the makeup of the group. There are so many variables and things where you’re together every single day for months in a row, that the makeup of each room is very, very critical,” he said.
“There’s a balance in most rooms of veterans and young guys, and when you have strong leadership in a group it’s usually a good sign for everybody involved.”