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The View From Pluto: The Baker Mayfield Era Begins

Quarterback Tyrod Taylor (left) has been replaced by rookie Baker Mayfield (right)
Wikimedia Commons
Quarterback Tyrod Taylor (left) has been replaced by rookie Baker Mayfield (right)

The Baker Mayfield era has begun in Cleveland. The Browns officially named Mayfield the starting quarterback after he led the team to its first win since 2016.

Mayfield entered last week’s game when starter Tyrod Taylor suffered a concussion while the team was losing to the Jets.  

WKSU commentator Terry Pluto thinks back to the NFL draft when Mayfield wasn't his first or second pick. 

"The Browns were probably the only ones who thought Mayfield was the best quarterback in the draft," he said. "And so did the analytics people, who said Mayfield doesn't throw the ball to other teams. He doesn't fumble. He doesn't get passes batted down at the line of scrimmage even though he's smaller. He completes a high percentage of passes." 

Mayfield vs. Darnold

Following last week's game, Pluto said there was a stark difference between Mayfield and another top quarterback in this year's draft, Sam Darnold, who's the Jets starter. Many experts and fans thought the Browns should have selected Darnold No. 1. 

Pluto said Darnold had 42 starts in college and high school combined, while Mayfield started 46 games in Division I college. There's also an age difference. Mayfield is 23 while Darnold is 21.

"Mayfield spent five years in college," Pluto said.

"The first year he was a walk-on at Texas Tech. He earned a scholarship the following year but lost the starting job. Then he transfererd to Oklahoma with no scholarship. He ended up starting for three years."

A different road to the top

"[Mayfield's] not the star high school prospect that everybody wanted," Pluto said.

"He becomes a phenom but not the usual road. He has a chip on his shoulder, thinking he still needs to prove a whole bunch of people wrong. That appealed to the Browns because they thought that's what it would take in Cleveland to make it work and for the fans to embrace."

Pluto also said Mayfield has shown poise and maturity off the field, especially during press conferences. And he says that's also attributed to his time on the big stage.

"When you play at Oklahoma, you are the big show. There's the Thunder and then there's Oklahoma football. That's it."

One snap away

After the Browns tied with the Steelers to open the season, many fans wanted Mayfield to start. Pluto shut them down. But, he says there's a cliche in football: "You're one snap away."

Still, he says not many rookies are actually prepared to go into a game when they've been sitting on the sidelines watching.

"A lot of guys say they are and then they get in the game, and you could tell they weren't. Mayfield was."

Raiders preview

This Sunday, the Browns play the Oakland Raiders, which will be a much different atmosphere for Mayfield. 

"The Browns can win. But they'll be on the road in a very noisy stadium. But I also go back to those 46 starts in college at a very big program in very loud stadiums. I don't think that will bother him a whole lot."

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Amanda Rabinowitz
Amanda Rabinowitz has been a reporter, host and producer at WKSU since 2007. Her days begin before the sun comes up as the local anchor for NPR’s Morning Edition, which airs on WKSU each weekday from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. In addition to providing local news and weather, she interviews the Plain Dealer’s Terry Pluto for a weekly commentary about Northeast Ohio’s sports scene.