Updated: Nov 11, 2018
On Thursday night Baker Mayfield led the Cleveland Browns to their first win in 635 days, defeating the New York Jets 21-17.
A lot has lead up to this point. From the day John Dorsey was hired as General Manager, he has made some questionable decisions that made you either open your eyes, or shake your head. The team selected to appear on HBO's Hard Knocks this season, has the talent to compete. However, with all the disarray surrounding the 2018 Browns, it is hard to believe that they can be better than the past two Browns teams that combined for only one win.
What has John Dorsey done to get the Browns to their first winning season since 2007 (10-6). 2018 has already been a tailspin. In week one against the Pittsburg Steelers, Browns kicker Zane Gonzales missed an overtime field goal as time ran out to tie the Steelers. In week two against the New Orleans Saints, the Browns were down by three, and Gonzales had the opportunity to tie the game at 21. Gonzales missed another field goal and the Browns lost the game. Gonzales was released on Monday and the team signed Greg Jones. If those field goals are made, the Browns could be 3-0 right now.
The Browns traded Josh Gordon to the Patriots. Josh Gordon has had troubles with substance abuse since being selected in the second round of the supplemental draft 2012. After being an all-pro in 2013, Gordon played just five games in 2014 before suspensions started piling on and would cost him nearly three season in the NFL. Once being reinstated last year for the final five games, more headaches came from him. After missing a team meeting last week the Browns decided that it was best for the Josh Gordon relationship to end. Let's see if Bill Belichick can whip him into shape.
This offseason John Dorsey traded for former Dolphins three time pro bowler, Jarvis Landry. Landry and Gordon would have made a lethal wide receiver duo. Many thought that former first round pick Corey Coleman can break out, but he demanded a trade in head coach Hue Jackson's office after he was demoted from a starter. He spent training camp with Buffalo and was released before roster cuts. Coleman was later picked up by New England until he was released to create a roster spot of Gordon. Dorsey also brought out former Dallas Cowboys three time pro bowler Dez Bryant, for an interview. The Browns decided that a veteran with a track record of issues would not be best for this young group of guys.
Cleveland has had 28 quarterbacks start for them since 2000. This was the year they finally had to get it right. However, his past draft raised eyebrows once again. The Browns held the first overall pick, and the fourth. They selected Baker Mayfield, a Heisman Trophy winning quarterback out of Oklahoma first, and Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward fourth. Many did not believe that was the direction they should have went. Out of all the quarterbacks drafted in the first round, it was a shock Mayfield was the one to go first.
Assuming the Browns took a quarterback first overall, it was expected that defensive end Bradley Chubb would than be taken at number four. Following Clevelands first pick, it was expected Saquon Barkley would go number two to the Giants, and the Jets would take a QB at three. That left the best defensive player in the draft to be there at four. Instead Dorsey and the Browns organization decided that Chubb would not pair up on the defensive line with last years first overall pick Myles Garret. Instead Denzel Ward would join the Browns backfield along with 2017 first round draft pick Jabril Peppers, a former Heisman Trophy finalist at Michigan. Ward has looked good so far, recording a forced fumble in the win against the Jets.
When Cleveland traded for quarterback Tyrod Taylor before the draft, it was a question if the Browns would even draft a QB. In 2017, Taylor led the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs for the first time since 1999. With Taylor being 29-years-old and still not a star talent, he fits the scheme for him to mentor a rookie. The Browns could have gone with Sam Darnold out of Southern California, Josh Allen out of Wyoming, or Josh Allen out of UCLA. Cleveland could have drafted a stud like Barkley or Chubb with the first pick, and taken a QB at number four. Instead, John Dorsey went with a surprise and selected his guy Baker Mayfield first overall.
Baker Mayfield was a walk- on at Texas Tech, where he would eventually earn the starting role. He would transfer to Oklahoma In 2015. After the transfer he would get in an incident with the police in Arkansas of 2016. Mayfield walked on again at Oklahoma, won a Heisman Trophy, and led Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff last season. Last season, Mayfield was suspended for all of two plays, and was stripped of his captainship on senior day against West Virginia after making obscene gestures at the opposing bench against Kansas. Mayfield made the gesture after players from Kansas spurned his handshake before kickoff. John Dorsey did not care about his character issues on and off the field. Dorsey saw a competitor who is always successful, even when the odds are against him.
So here we are today, Tyrod Taylor was benched Thursday night and it was Baker's time shine. Baker looked great for 17 completions and 201 yards and the Browns overcame a 14-0 deficit en route to a 21-17 win. The offseason addition of running back Carlos Hyde, rushed for 98 yards and 2 touchdowns. Jarvis Landry looked great with 8 catches for 103 yards. It is only a matter of time when the young guns of Myles Garret, Jabril Peppers, and Denzel Ward break out for this defense. The locker room issues are certainly there, but this is not the Browns of old. The 2018 Browns are flooded with talent, and it will be some time before it all comes together. John Dorsey, Hue Jackson, and the new Browns regiment built a team that is ready to go somewhere they have not been in a long time, or just 635 days ago.