On Thursday Night Football against the Jets, the world saw Baker Mayfield in a regular season NFL game for the first time. The results were spectacular, thus leading to a phenomenon which I have called the “Baker Mayfield effect.”
Tyrod Taylor started the game for the Browns. His throws were off line, he didn’t look comfortable in the pocket, and the only time he was able to make plays was when he was using his legs. Browns fans weren’t having any of this, especially when he would make throws to invisible receivers.
Tyrod Taylor threw a beautiful TD pass to Manti Te’o’s girlfriend
— Someone's An Idiot (@SomeonesAnIdiot) September 21, 2018
Then, with around three minutes to go in the second quarter, Tyrod was sacked hard by Jets LB Avery Williamson. The sack forced Taylor’s head into the ground and ruled him out for the rest of the game with a concussion. Taylor finished the game with a less-than-magical 4-14 passing for just 19 yards.
In comes the rookie out of Oklahoma.
Baker Mayfield Time
Baker Mayfield came in, cold, off the bench into a game where the Browns were losing 14-0. This was a daunting task to say the least. But what did Baker do on his very first career NFL throw?
Oh, just a bullet pass to Jarvis Landry for the first down. Something that, to this point in the game, seemed like a foreign concept for the Browns. Baker’s first drive resulted in the Browns marching downfield and kicking the field goal to give them their first points of the night.
As the game went on, Mayfield was proving to all the doubters (Colin Cowherd) why he deserved to be the number one pick. All his throws were on the money. He could buy time in the pocket and still find receivers open downfield. Here are a couple of my favorite throws he made on the night.
There was no window.
— The Checkdown (@thecheckdown) September 21, 2018
That throwing window was non-existent, yet he found the receiver no problem.
— LastWordOnNFL (@LastWordOnNFL) September 21, 2018
And this one was placed perfectly in the spot it had to be so the Jets safety couldn’t get his hands on it.
Lastly, Baker did something that only Nick Foles, and not Tom Brady, can say they’ve done — catch a pass in a critical moment. Mayfield ran what will henceforth be known as the “Cleveland Special,” as he caught a touchdown pass from Jarvis Landry. This play was almost identical to the one Oklahoma ran against Georgia in the 2018 Rose Bowl, except at the end of the game, Mayfield fans like myself didn’t throw their remote at the TV in anger.
Mayfield finished the game 17-of-23 passing for 201 yards, a passer rating of 100.1, and gave the Browns their first win since December 24, 2016 vs the then San Diego Chargers. Mayfield had broken the Browns curse that had lasted for 635 days. I mean 635 days ago people were doing the “Mannequin Challenge” for god’s sake. Think about that one.
Brady to Baker
The comparisons between Baker Mayfield and Tom Brady at this point in his career may seem few and far between. But let me take you back to a late September game in 2001. The Drew Bledsoe-led Patriots were playing, of all teams, the New York Jets. Bledsoe had just gotten a 10-year, $100 million dollar contract to be the starting quarterback for the Patriots for a very long time. No one thought Tom Brady out of Michigan was going to get a chance to start for quite awhile.
Jets LB Mo Lewis delivered a brutal hit to Bledsoe, which knocked him unconscious and sheared a blood vessel in his chest, almost killing him. Brady went in for him and the rest is history.
Okay, the stories aren’t THAT similar. Tyrod Taylor isn’t signed long-term, nor was he almost killed by a hit. But you have to admit that the fact it was around the same point in September, being against the Jets both times, and the backup to starter connection is all pretty interesting. I don’t think Baker will be Tom Brady, but I do think this is the beginning of a very long and successful NFL career.
The Baker Mayfield Effect
Here is the end result of the game, however, football fans everywhere are now enamored by Baker Mayfield, which brings us to the “Baker Mayfield effect.” This is where you have people from all sports fandoms drawn into the Browns and watching the Browns closely for the first time. Mayfield is compelling TV when he is out there, there is no doubt about it. The ratings prove it.
— NFL Media (@NFLMedia) September 21, 2018
Also, Darren Rovell of ESPN said, according to Fanatics, from halftime when Mayfield was put in, to the end of the game, the Baker Mayfield number 6 Browns jersey was the top selling jersey in the NFL. For two hours, Mayfield sold more than Tom Brady and Khalil Mack did all day. Not only were jersey sales booming, but people were buying Browns tickets at alarming rates as well.
Mayfield was also dominating the social media world. He garnered five times more mentions Thursday night than LeBron James and Conor McGregor. In addition to all of this, Mayfield also added 67,000 more Twitter and Instagram followers that night (@BakerMayfield on both if you’re not already following).
This was Baker Mayfield’s coming out party, and everyone was invited. So to the Browns fans, new and old alike, sit back and enjoy the ride because for the first time since 1999, you are going to have a quarterback who is actually competent, my apologies to Thad Lewis. That quarterback jersey of shame in Cleveland won’t be adding this name to it’s list, that much we can be certain.