Point/Counterpoint: Should the Browns start Baker or Tyrod week 1?

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FILE - In this Aug. 2, 2018, file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor, left, and Baker Mayfield throw passes during NFL football training camp, in Berea, Ohio. Former Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor will start while top overall pick Baker Mayfield develops. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze, File)

FILE – In this Aug. 2, 2018, file photo, Cleveland Browns quarterbacks Tyrod Taylor, left, and Baker Mayfield throw passes during NFL football training camp, in Berea, Ohio. Former Buffalo quarterback Tyrod Taylor will start while top overall pick Baker Mayfield develops. (AP Photo/Ken Blaze, File)

Yesterday, the Cleveland Browns made the decision to start newly acquired veteran Tyrod Taylor over No.1 overall pick Baker Mayfield. Whether or not the Browns would start Mayfield has been one of the biggest questions since he was drafted. Here we debate who should be under center for the first snap of the season.

Conner Gilson: The Browns shouldn’t even be hesitating about who to start for this upcoming season. It has to be the QB of the future and their No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has the intangibles, as well as the raw talent and leadership, to guide the Browns better than Tyrod ever could. Just look at his preseason stats.

Mayfield totaled 501 yards while completing 35/61 passes, good enough for a 57 percent completion, as well as two touchdowns and only one interception through his four appearances. He was also able to do some damage with his legs and got several key first down runs, showing his decision making, which was a big concern coming into the season, is nothing to be worried about. This is a very young Browns team, so they should have given the starting nod to the new franchise QB.

Jorge Eckardt: Stop it. Everyone knows preseason stats mean nothing. If they did mean something, then Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB Ryan Griffin, who threw for 518 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions this preseason, would be starting for the first three games in Winston’s absence instead of Ryan Fitzpatrick. But they don’t mean anything.

While I do agree that Mayfield is their quarterback of the future, I do not believe in rushing him out there before he is ready. Rookie quarterbacks rarely do well their first season in the league. Take Carson Wentz and Jared Goff as perfect examples. Both are Pro-Bowl quarterbacks who had passer ratings of over 100 last year but struggled the year before. Mayfield could really benefit from taking it slow his first year and learning from Tyrod for 16 games before taking the reins in 2019.

Conner Gilson: The only thing Baker can learn from Tyrod is how to barely make it to the playoffs and then lose in the first round. Mayfield is a Heisman winner who can lead this team to victories in key moments that Taylor just cannot. In fact, Tyrod’s stats were the lowest of his starting career last season. He completed less passes, threw for nearly 300 less yards, threw 3 fewer touchdowns and ran for 2 fewer touchdowns, which led him to a passer rating of 89.2, also his lowest during his time in Buffalo.

Wentz and Goff did not have the talent that Mayfield has going into their rookie seasons, which is why they did not perform as well, but Baker is a different person. Did Wentz or Goff lead their team to a 2 seed in the NCAA playoffs? No sir. Did Wentz or Goff total over 4500 passing yards with over a 70 percent completion rate and passer rating of almost 200? Not even close. Baker is a different player and should be treated differently. The Browns need to let him lead this team, something Tyrod Taylor still has not proven he can do.

Jorge Eckardt: Barely making it to the playoffs and then losing in the first round would be a big step up for a Browns team that hasn’t won a game since 2016. But anyway, winning a Heisman trophy and making the college football playoffs doesn’t mean anything. Johnny Manziel and RGIII each won Heisman trophies and were considered to have that “raw talent”, yet they both turned out to be busts. As for making the playoffs and putting up crazy stats, in college it is very reliant on the team that is around the QB. Wentz and Goff did not have the same team around them at Wyoming and Cal that Mayfield had at Oklahoma.

However, my biggest argument is that Tyrod Taylor is not a bad quarterback. While yes, Taylor did have the worst passer rating of his career last year (even if it was only by .5), it still put him at 16th in the NFL, better than Andy Dalton, Dak Prescott and Derrick Carr, yet nobody questions their ability to start. Taylor’s QBR, another metric for evaluating quarterback play, was equally as good. His 60.0 was the 14th best in the NFL, just behind Russell Wilson. Tyrod gets no respect despite proving time and again that he can be a starter in this league. Until he proves otherwise, Taylor should remain the starter in Cleveland.

 


Conner Gilson is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at connor.gilson@uconn.edu.  

Jorge Eckardt is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at jorge.eckardt@uconn.edu.

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