Hue Jackson named Tyrod Taylor the Cleveland Browns starting quarterback just one day after the team officially acquired him from the Buffalo Bills for a third round draft pick.
“He (Taylor) is going to be the starting quarterback,” Jackson said during a post-free agency presser. “There is no competition.”
In two years as the head coach, Jackson hasn’t had the luxury of having an opening day starter decided so early in the offseason. Which makes this even better news, because he has struggled in finding the right guy, has second-guessed himself, and has given up on a couple of them already during his short tenure in Cleveland.
“It really gives me a chance to show the rest of the team who the leader of the franchise is,” said Jackson. “[W]e are going to get in line with him, follow him and he is going to lead this organization to winning.”
While Jackson is ready to move forward with Taylor this season, the team holds the enviable position to draft the best quarterback in a top-heavy 2018 quarterback class.
The coach doesn’t believe Taylor’s signing will impact the team’s draft strategy, though, and he apparently doesn’t envision any rookie quarterback, even the No. 1 pick, surpassing the veteran passer after joining the team.
“If that the decision we make as an organization to take a quarterback at No. 1, then we will, but Tyrod is the starting quarterback,” Jackson said. “That is not going to change that.”
Jackson also laid out some of his philosophy, saying he didn’t believe Taylor’s starting status will affect the team’s approach to evaluating and selecting a quarterback in April.
“We have played young players here the last two years and that hasn’t worked,” he said. “I think grooming a young quarterback, letting him sit, learn, grow and understand what it takes to play in the National Football League is truly the way to do it.
“If we draft somebody who in the future is a better player, that will all take care of itself in time, but he is not a bridge.”
But if they do draft a quarterback high it’s not absurd to think about Taylor as a “bridge” starter until the rookie is deemed ready to play. But neither Jackson or Taylor are willing to acknowledge that as the reality.
Very unsurprisingly, Taylor confidently said he doesn’t view himself that way. In his next breath he said he hopes he’s the guy “helping bridge [the Browns] to a Super Bowl.”
Taylor’s enthusiasm is commendable, albeit hopelessly unrealistic. Although a worst-to-first and Super Bowl win finish is a tremendous long shot — maybe the biggest, longest long shot ever — for the Browns, that should absolutely be the mindset and goal of every player and executive inside every NFL franchise, before every season.
It wasn’t the goal for the Browns for the last two seasons, and their painful results spoke for themselves.
Here’s what we do know: Taylor immediately steps into the Browns quarterback job with NFL experience, success and exciting potential. Experience, success and potential are three words that haven’t, at least collectively, been used to describe a Browns quarterback in ages.