The current Cleveland Browns have been in the NFL since 1999, meaning that the 2018 season is their 20th since returning to the league. With rookie Baker Mayfield having been named their starter going forward, he will become the 30th different quarterback during that span of time to start a game for the team.
From Tim Couch to Jeff Garcia, Charlie Frye to Derek Anderson, Colt McCoy to Brandon Weeden, Johnny Manziel to DeShone Kizer, and nearly a couple dozen names in between, the Browns’ is a story of futility. The only quarterback in that entire span to post a winning record was Brian Hoyer, who went 10-6 as a starter between 2013 and 2014.
So what does Mayfield think about stepping into this legacy? “It’s 2018”, he said. “Don’t really care”.
Which is frankly the perfect answer as far as I’m concerned, especially coming from him. After all, what is he expected to say in that situation? ‘I hope I do better’?
Technically, he is 0-0 as a starter, given that he took over for an injured Tyrod Taylor in the team’s last game, so the latter is actually the quarterback of record in the game. Barring another opportunity to start, he figures to finish his Browns career with a 1-1-1 record. Just a footnote of the footnote that is his time in Cleveland, also known as the prelude to the Mayfield era.
Assuming, you know, that he actually becomes a good quarterback and makes the Browns a competitive team. But he has the right mentality to take that challenge on.
“I didn’t come here just to win one game, and I didn’t come here just to start the next”, he told reporters following the announcement that he would be the team’s starter going forward. “We’re building a franchise here and we’re turning it around. It’s about culture, so being that same person every day, which means finding that happy medium. Never listen to the outside noise”.
‘Building a culture’, in effect, is essentially a euphemism for transforming a bad team into a good one that is capable of winning games on a pretty consistent basis. And the entire organization and its fans are hungry right now to get this next chapter started because of how Mayfield looked coming off the bench. He is being treated as the savior of a once great franchise that has never even played in a Super Bowl.
“It comes with the territory”, he said. “That’s what I signed up for. I’m living my dream and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Without pressure, I don’t think this would be very much fun, without all the people watching and finding joy in this game. I love this game, and without the competitive nature, I wouldn’t enjoy it”.