On Thursday night, the stars aligned to bless the Cleveland Browns with something they have desperately been longing for: a win.
It wasn’t perfect. There are a lot of things to improve. But we’ll save that for another day. The Browns won a game 21-17, breaking a 635 day winless streak in dramatic comeback fashion.
The Browns were down by 14 at one point in the game. The offense blossomed under the superb play of Baker Mayfield in his first NFL game, who proved he can be a leader of this team. The play calling was better when Mayfield was in the game. Cleveland ran and caught the ball better, too. The defense, which has never really been in question this season, was phenomenal.
The stadium was electric. Fans were rejuvenated. Plays were made. Tears were shed. Refrigerators were opened. Copious amounts of Bud Light were consumed.
It was a glorious night for Cleveland that felt like a fresh start for the most downtrodden franchise in the NFL.
Here are my simple observations:
Baker’s time is now
Considering the Browns have a 19-year history of ruining young “franchise” quarterbacks by throwing them to the wolves too soon, I was okay with John Dorsey’s approach to the season. I don’t care if the rookie better. I don’t care if they’re different. One look at the organization and its history will tell you that no rookie quarterback should ever start for Cleveland. That’s my earnest opinion.
That being said, it appears Mayfield truly is different. After all, playing a poised game, hyping up the team, making incredible bullet passes and catching a 2-point conversion must count for something, right? He helped the Browns secure their first win in 2016 after entering the game down by two touchdowns. How many young quarterbacks can do that? Or to put it another way, how many Cleveland quarterbacks since 1999 could do that? I think you know the answer.
If Hue Jackson wants to keep his job, he has to stick with Baker. The Browns faithful have already begun to turn their backs on Jackson, and continuing to start Taylor will only hasten that process. If Jackson decides to stick with Taylor, his reign in Cleveland may come to an end this offseason. I would almost guarantee it.
While I am not necessarily a fan of a rookie starter, it’s hard to argue with results.
Below are the team’s stat leaders from Thursday night as well as a few other statistics of note:
Passing: Baker Mayfield, 17-23, 201 yards
Rushing: Carlos Hyde, 23 carries, 98 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Jarvis Landry, 8 receptions, 103 yards
- Cleveland had 20 first downs to the New York’s 14
- The Browns outgained the Jets 323-268
- Both teams were 2-for-3 in the red zone
- Cleveland had 5 penalties for 41 yards; New York had 6 penalties for 55 yards.
- The Browns won the turnover battle 3-0
Momentum, momentum, moment…
As I said, I wanted to keep this short and sweet so fans can enjoy reveling in their win and not be bogged down by the annoying negativity of another sports writer. I would like to leave everyone with this final note:
This has been the most excited I, as a writer, have been for the Browns in a long time. Now that Cleveland understands what a win feels like and understands how to play a full 60 minutes as a team, it seems that the momentum around the organization is shifting. After tying the Pittsburgh Steelers, nearly beating the New Orleans Saints and now finally achieving victory over the Jets, it feels like the Browns team we’ve been waiting for has finally arrived.
Here’s to a win, Cleveland. We look forward to many more.
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