The Browns want to start the season with Baker Mayfield on the bench, but if Tyrod Taylor’s injury proves to be serious they’ll be forced to reconsider.
The best laid plans in the NFL are often ruined due to injury. That could be the case in Cleveland. The Browns have done everything they can not to rush Baker Mayfield onto the field, but Tyrod Taylor’s injury might change the organization’s line of thinking.
Taylor suffered a left hand injury in the first quarter of the Browns’ preseason game against the Eagles. It didn’t look like much on the field, but Taylor ran off the field immediately after feeling pain.
He went directly into the team’s medical tent and early reports claim his status is questionable to return to the game.
Obviously, there’s no way to know whether or not Taylor’s hand injury is going to cause him to miss any playing time in the regular season. It’s interesting to speculate what that might mean for the Browns though.
Without Taylor to fall back in, Hue Jackson and company would be forced to choose between Mayfield and Drew Stanton.
Keeping the No. 1 overall pick on the bench is hard enough when a quality starter like Taylor is the alternative. It would be much more difficult for the coaching staff to justify playing Stanton over Mayfield. There’s a fine line between being conservative and being foolish.
Playing a journeyman like Stanton over a talent like Mayfield would qualify as the latter.
No one should put such a decision past Jackson though. The Browns’ head coach is nothing if not stubborn. If he really doesn’t think it’s in Mayfield’s best interest to allow him to begin the season as a starter, it’s very possible Stanton could get the nod.
Such a decision would understandably draw a lot of ire from Browns’ fans, but they’ve already survived a 1-31 stretch over two seasons. They’re resilient enough to watch Stanton play for a few games if need be.
Taylor’s injury does bring the possibility of Mayfield playing Week 1 into play though. If the injury does prove to be serious, there will be a ton of pressure on the organization to give the Heisman Trophy winner his chance.
It’s not a lock he’d get the nod, but he’d certainly stand an excellent chance.