After Baker Mayfield's impressive , the NFL community wondered if the Browns might be better off starting the No. 1 overall pick over the current starter, Tyrod Taylor. Internally, the Browns aren't even considering playing Mayfield over Taylor. Instead, they're wondering if they're better off picking Drew Stanton -- not Baker Mayfield -- to be Taylor's direct backup.
On Wednesday, Browns coach Hue Jackson indicated that he's considering selecting Stanton to be his No. 2 quarterback behind Taylor, which means Mayfield would fall to the third team ahead of only Brogan Roback. Jackson said it'd be "a heck of a decision" if something happened to Taylor.
"I've said from the beginning that I think experience is important," Jackson said, per Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot. "Right now, Drew still has that experience, and we'll see how that all unfolds as we go. I haven't made that choice just yet, but his veteran presence says a lot. He's played in a lot of games against a lot of teams that we are going to start off against and play against so I think that is important to definitely consider."
Meanwhile, quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese pointed toward Stanton's win-loss record as a starter.
"He's the secret sauce," Zampese said this week. "I'll stand right here and say it. He's the secret sauce to the room and to the group. He's seen everything before and he's played enough to know exactly what's going through the starter's head. Shoot, as a starter he has a winning record. So he has a lot of input and a lot of influence on the way we think about things and the way we do things. He's fantastic."
Jackson and Zampese aren't wrong: Stanton has played in a lot of games (38 to be exact) and he's won more games than he's lost (11-6 in 17 career starts). But the idea that the Browns would consider playing Stanton over Mayfield, who appears to be as NFL-ready as a rookie quarterback can be, because he has experience serves as yet another reminder that there are serious questions about this coaching staff's competency.
Keeping Mayfield behind Taylor is a debatable move, but it's a justifiable decision. Taylor is a good -- not great -- NFL quarterback who just helped take the Bills (of all teams) to the playoffs. He's going to bring some much-needed stability to Cleveland, and he's going to give the Browns a chance to actually be competitive. The Browns just went 0-16. Wanting to be competitive in the short-term is a justifiable desire.
There's certainly an argument to be made that Taylor's level of play shouldn't matter if Mayfield also looks like he's ready to start Week 1 -- after all, Mayfield is the franchise's future while Taylor is nothing more than a bridge starter -- but starting Taylor is, at least, a defensible decision considering Taylor is a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL.
Stanton isn't. In his 38 appearances, he's managed to throw more interceptions (24) than touchdowns (20) and post a 66.3 passer rating. He should be nothing more than a mentor to Mayfield and the team's emergency option. But for some reason, the Browns are considering playing him ahead of the quarterback they just took with the No. 1 overall pick, all because Stanton has "experience," even though his NFL "experience" has been worse than the Tim Tebow's, Brock Osweiler's, and Blaine Gabbert's collective NFL experience.
By the sound of it, Jackson hasn't made a decision yet -- Stanton is expected to get some reps in during the team's next preseason game -- so there's still hope that he'll come to his senses and pick the better quarterback to be higher up the depth chart than the worse quarterback. But given his track record with the Browns, we probably shouldn't expect him to make the common-sense decision. It shouldn't even be a topic of discussion, but here we are: Instead of wondering if Mayfield can push Taylor for the starting job, we're wondering if Stanton might beat out Mayfield for the backup job.