Hue Jackson won't commit to Baker Mayfield as starting QB despite Browns' wild win

If anyone knows how to spoil a victory party, it's Browns coach Hue Jackson.  

After watching Baker Mayfield lead a stunning comeback for a 21-17 win over the Jets on Thursday, most people in Cleveland probably thought that Jackson would name the rookie his starting quarterback for the rest of the season. However, that's not what happened after the game. Instead, Jackson was noncommittal about starting Mayfield for the Browns' Week 4 game in Oakland, which is now 10 days away.  

Before making any drastic decisions about who his starting quarterback is going to be, Jackson said he wants to check things out on film first. 

"I would like to watch the tape," Jackson said, via the team's official website. "Baker did some great things, again, we don't play until next Sunday. We've got some days, let's not get into those debates tonight. What he did tonight was outstanding for the football team and for his teammates and just the way he competed. Again, I have to watch the tape and we'll go from there."

It definitely seemed like a weird thing for Jackson to say, and that's mainly because you don't have to be a football coach to realize that Mayfield thoroughly outplayed Tyrod Taylor against the Jets. Before exiting the game with a concussion late in the first half, Taylor had led the Browns to zero points and completed just 4 of 14 passes for 19 yards. 

After Mayfield entered the game with just 1:42 left in the first half, he blew by Taylor's numbers with just two throws. Mayfield completed his first two passes for 31 yards. The rookie quarterback also dug the Browns out of a 14-0 hole on his way to a 201-yard performance. Despite all that, and the fact that Mayfield led the Browns to their first win in 635 days, Jackson continued to insist that he wasn't ready to commit to the rookie as his starting quarterback. 

"I'm going to watch the tape and make the right decision, the best decision for this organization and for the football team moving forward," Jackson said. 

Although Jackson wouldn't commit to Mayfield as his starting quarterback going forward, the Browns coach was very complimentary of the top pick in the 2018 NFL Draft

"Once Baker got in the game at quarterback, you just saw a different rhythm, which was good, good to see," Jackson said. "The young man did some really good things, you can't take that away from him. What a night for him. Obviously, he came off the bench, went in there and led this team and helped get this team to victory."

After watching Mayfield torch the Jets, many people were wondering why the rookie didn't start in Week 1, and Jackson had an answer for that. Apparently, the Browns coach didn't feel Mayfield was ready. 

"He needed the time... I can't tell you if he would have performed like that Week 1," Jackson said, via NFL Network. 

The problem with that answer is that it means Mayfield magically became ready over the past two weeks while taking snaps with the second team in practice. Basically, it seemed like Jackson was going out of his way not to name Mayfield as the starting quarterback. 

Of course, there is one possible reason why Jackson didn't want to name Mayfield the starter and that's because it's possible he wanted to talk to Taylor first. Instead of having Taylor lose his job in a public setting, it's possible Jackson's plan is to let the quarterback know in private that he's being benched. Jackson clearly likes Taylor and was even protective of him during his press conference. At one point, the Browns coach was asked if Taylor would have been benched in the game if he hadn't been injured, and Jackson basically refused to answer the question.  

"He got hurt, so let's not talk about if I would have or wouldn't of," Jackson said. 

Jackson might not want to admit it yet, but it seems pretty clear the Browns have to move forward with Mayfield as their starter. For one, Taylor has a concussion and could be out for the immediate future, which gives Mayfield the job by default. Also, if Jackson decides to keep Mayfield on the bench, the entire city of Cleveland would probably revolt until the Browns decided to fire him as head coach. 

CBS Sports Writer

John Breech has been at CBS Sports since July 2011 and currently spends most of his time writing about the NFL. He's believed to be one of only three people in the world who thinks that Andy Dalton will... Full Bio

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