Tyrod Taylor Isn't Browns' Anointed Savior, but He May Be Just What They NeedJune 22, 2018
There is one thing you need to know about Cleveland Browns quarterback Tyrod Taylor. It is something often left out of any discussion about the dynamic between him and top draft pick Baker Mayfield.
It's this: Taylor isn't going quietly into the night. In fact, it may be some time before he goes anywhere at all.
"Tyrod Taylor could keep Baker Mayfield on the bench for years," one AFC scout predicted.
Why? It's not because Mayfield is a failure in the making, but because Taylor is far more talented than many people know.
Consider for a moment that he is 22-20 as a starter, and all of those games came over the past three seasons with the Buffalo Bills, who haven't exactly been Patriots West. Yes, he's had his share of brutal outings—last year's 56-yard effort against the Saints, for example—but few quarterbacks have produced more competently with less in the passing game than Taylor. Among his accomplishments:
- Taylor set the Bills' mark for the highest completion percentage in single game at 97.1 percent
- Most rushing yards by Bills quarterback in single game (79)
- Most rushing yards by Bills quarterback in single season (580)
- Most consecutive pass attempts without an interception in Bills history (222)
- Longest run by a Bills quarterback (49)
- Most career rushing yards by a Bills quarterback (1,575)
- Highest career completion percentage in franchise history, 500 or more passes thrown (62.6)
With little or no fanfare, Taylor has shown he's the type of steady signal-caller who can get a team to the playoffs, like he did last season with the Bills, who hadn't been to the postseason since 1999.
That brings us to now, and Taylor's role with the Browns. There are already reports the veteran has won the respect of his teammates in minicamp. That means something for a franchise starved for talent and leadership at a position at which it's started 28 different people since it returned to the NFL in 1999.
There might be moments Taylor falters, and the Browns coaching staff will feel pressure to start Mayfield. After all, saying any Browns quarterback will do well is one of the great sucker bets of all time. It's like guaranteeing Ben Affleck will make a good movie. But I predict those moments will be few with Taylor.
Of all the Browns quarterbacks during this putrid streak, Taylor gives Cleveland the best chance to break the ugly cycle. And yes, we know that being the best Browns quarterback of the past two decades is like being the tallest Lilliputian, but Taylor can do giant things.
Odd as it may seem, this season in Cleveland, he might have the luxury of playing with the best offense he's ever had. The Browns offense is stacked.
I said it: stacked.
You don't have to look hard to find skill position players a lot of teams would love to have, from receivers Josh Gordon and Jarvis Landry to running backs Duke Johnson, Carlos Hyde and Nick Chubb. And while the offensive line may not be filled with All-Pros, it is populated with promising talents.
Gordon, it's true, is always a question mark because of his history of multiple failed drug tests. (If he fails another, it's likely his NFL career is over.) But if he stays clean, he's as physically gifted a receiver as there is in the sport. In 2013, his second season, he led all pass-catchers with 1,646 receiving yards.
Optimism isn't easy to come by in Cleveland. If the Browns go typically Brownsian, they will be 0-8 by the middle of next season and sit near the bottom in offensive rankings. Then, readers will remember this column and beat me over the head with it. And I'll deserve it. Even before writing this, I made mention on Twitter about how the Browns offense suddenly looks good, and I received a stream of mockery in return.
There just seems to be something different (I think…I hope) with this Browns group because it has Taylor.
That's good for him and the Browns, even if it means Mayfield may have to wait to be the franchise savior many hope he will be.
Mike Freeman covers the NFL for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter: @mikefreemanNFL.