CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield’s short wait is over.
Maybe Cleveland’s long one for a franchise quarterback is as well.
Mayfield was named the Browns’ new starting QB — the 30th since the franchise’s rebirth in 1999 — on Monday, and the No. 1 overall pick will make his first start Sunday at Oakland.
As expected, coach Hue Jackson made the move to replace Tyrod Taylor with Mayfield after the high-profile rookie rallied the Browns to a 21-17 come-from-behind win Thursday night over the New York Jets — Cleveland’s first win since 2016.
“I saw him make more plays with the guys,” Jackson said in explaining the inevitable switch. “I saw the ball being spread around, the ball going to the right person. I saw the offense start to make plays up and down the field.”
Under the national TV spotlight, Mayfield came in for an injured Taylor and showed a seasoned veteran’s poise during his pro debut. He made quick decisions and throws while completing 17 of 23 passes for 201 yards in just more than one half.
“He nailed it,” Jackson said.
Taylor, who sustained a concussion and remains in protocol, was starting because the Browns’ plan was to have Mayfield watch and learn as a backup until he was ready.
Jackson said he hopes Taylor will be cleared and back up Mayfield on Sunday against the Raiders. If not, veteran Drew Stanton will be active.
As for Mayfield, Jackson has been impressed with the Heisman Trophy’s quick development and acknowledged the switch happened sooner than he anticipated. But Jackson is also confident Mayfield is prepared to take the starting job and run with it.
“I think he can handle it, he’s demonstrated that,” Jackson said. “He showed me at every opportunity he was working to be ready when his time was called.”