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Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns – Orange County Register

The list of failed quarterbacks before him stretched two dozen names long and included the likes of Spergon Wynn, Ken Dorsey, Bruce Gradkowski, Austin Davis, and perhaps weirdest of all, Doug Pederson, the now-Super Bowl-winning coach of the Eagles. Most lasted only a few games. None lasted more than a few seasons. For decades, it’s been plain to see what ailed the NFL’s saddest franchise. Outside of Otto Graham, who last played in 1955, the Cleveland Browns had never had a transcendent quarterback.

But that was Before Baker. Since Baker Mayfield led the Browns to a comeback victory over the Jets in Week 3, he has has been elevated to savior status. The Browns are 2-1 since Mayfield took over. To anyone in Cleveland, though, it feels as if decades of quarterback disappointment are already behind them.

And rightfully so. Mayfield, who is averaging 279 passing yards per game since becoming the starter, has energized the offense. Behind him, the Cleveland running game has become one of the best in the league. And the defense, with rookie cornerback Denzel Ward and 2017 No. 1 pick Myles Garrett leading the way, has paced the league in takeaways.

The Browns might be a legitimate threat in the AFC North. So far, at least, they certainly look like a franchise renewed. One that finally has the quarterback for which it’s desperately been searching.

WHO’S COACHING THE BROWNS?

At the end of his second season as the Browns coach, Hue Jackson made league history. Until Jackson, no NFL coach had ever lost all 16 games and managed to retain his job. A year earlier, the Browns were only one win better, at 1-15.

But with Mayfield now in tow, the Browns have doubled the win total of Jackson’s first two seasons through just five weeks. Whether that has anything to do with Jackson’s coaching is up for interpretation.

Jackson’s job might, for the moment, be safe, but expectations are heightened in Cleveland. And with Mayfield’s former coach, Lincoln Riley, likely to be bandied about as an NFL coaching candidate next offseason, Jackson’s seat is sure to be piping hot for the foreseeable future.

BY THE NUMBERS

8: Sacks Mayfield has taken over the course of his 2-1/2 games as Browns quarterback

+8: The Browns’ turnover differential through five weeks, which leads the NFL. Cleveland’s 15 takeaways also lead the league.

144.6: Rushing yards per game for the trio of Carlos Hyde, Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson Jr., which leads the NFL.

PLAYER TO WATCH

When Myles Garrett was drafted No. 1 overall a year ago, the Browns planned on him becoming a generational edge rusher and the centerpiece of their defense. So far, everything is going according to plan.

Garrett has five sacks already this season. In the Browns’ season-opening tie with the Steelers, Garrett terrorized quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, sacking him twice and forcing two fumbles. He’s a game-changing talent, and if the Chargers are rolling with inexperienced offensive tackles on the edges, Garrett could feast.

WHAT DID HE SAY?

“We ain’t no joke. We’re for real around here. We put in hard work, we come to play every Sunday. Take us light if you want to.” — Carlos Hyde, Browns running back, to Cleveland.com

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