Mayfield replaced Taylor late in the first half of the Browns' Week 3 game against the Jets after the veteran quarterback suffered a concussion. Up to that point, Taylor was 4 of 14 for 19 yards in six drives. The Browns trailed 14-0.
Mayfield entered with 1:45 to go in the second quarter and completed his first three passes for 47 yards, and set up a field goal. That was a prelude of what was to come; he went 14 of 19 for 154 yards over the final 30 minutes and lead the Browns to a 21-17 victory, their first win in 635 days.
Taylor, who was acquired in the offseason in a trade with the Bills and was immediately named the starter by coach Hue Jackson, remains in concussion protocol. The hope is that he will be cleared to serve as Mayfield's backup when the Browns travel to Oakland to face the Raiders on Sunday.
The Browns' offense sputtered under Taylor, leading to questions about why Jackson took so long to turn to Mayfield, who looked impressive during the preseason.
"I still stand by the decision," Jackson said after the Jets game, via Cleveland.com. "I think it was right. I still think he needed the time. He needed the time to see, and understand the National Football League and how it works. We're better served -- I can't tell you that Baker would have performed like that in Week 1. The way he works, the time he spends, it's been invaluable for him. It led up to when he was ready to play, he was going to play well. That's all I ever said about Baker -- when we stick him out there, he was going to play well, and I truly believe that tonight was his coming out party."
In Mayfield the Browns finally appear to have the franchise quarterback that proved so elusive since the team returned to Cleveland in 1999.
"It makes a huge difference,'' Jackson said of having a talent like Mayfield under center. "You guys have seen this organization for years, all of you have. The difference has been the quarterback play. The quarterback play needed to improve and be better. That's what you saw when he came into the game and started to play like he did. You saw the offense start to move and the ball start to matriculate down the field. That position is huge. We know that. We knew that we drafted the right guy. I knew that that was the right guy, but it was going to be the right timing. Nobody knew how that was going to happen. This is how it's unfolded."
But this isn't the end -- it's where the hard work starts.
"Baker understands there's still a lot of work to do," Jackson said, via NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. ... "Now the other added pressure of being out there first is there. But I think he can handle it. He's demonstrated that."