BEREA – There hasn’t been a quick fix for changing the Cleveland Browns’ culture, but the team’s recent investments into winning players may help expedite that process.
Veterans Jarvis Landry and Tyrod Taylor have breathed fresh air into the Browns’ sails, uplifting the team to believe in itself. It makes sense then that the ideas of rebuilding or planning for the future don’t seem to interest Taylor very much.
The former Buffalo Bills quarterback, fresh off a playoffs appearance last season, knows his new team needs that culture change, and that the only way they’ll change the perpetually negative narrative surrounding the Browns is by winning as soon as possible.
“We have a great opportunity in front of us to change the culture, change the narrative of what’s been said around here for a long time,” Taylor said before the start of Monday’s training camp session. “That window of opportunity isn’t a couple years.
“We need to win now. Whatever it takes to get that done, I’m all behind that.”
What makes him think he can be the guy who comes into Cleveland and finds success at the quarterback position, a spot that has been the Bermuda Triangle of signal callers?
For one thing, Taylor is confident in Todd Haley’s offense, which he says is a organic and allows the players to have direct input.
“It’s a very flexible offense, player friendly, and it allows us to have our own input on the offense by putting our own stamp on it. We’re definitely bouncing ideas off each other,” Taylor said. “As well as finding ways to give certain guys the ball with ways they’ve had success with in their careers.”
There’s another important factor fueling Taylor’s determination to win now. He’s playing on the second and final year of the $30.5 million deal he signed with Buffalo—he’ll make $16 million in Cleveland this season—which means this is probably the most important season of his career as he looks for a future landing spot, and a future salary.
Taylor has a big hurdle, though, in dealing with uncertainty and hype surrounding Baker Mayfield, the first pick in April’s NFL draft.
Although coach Hue Jackson has tirelessly expressed his support for Taylor, and also his hesitancy to again name a rookie quarterback his starting quarterback after burning through Cody Kessler and DeShone Kizer over the last two seasons, the questions about Mayfield’s future, and present, are not going away anytime soon.
“Focus on me, I can’t necessarily focus on anyone else on this team,” Taylor said, describing how he’ll deal with the hype. “Of course it’s my job to lead, but I have a job to do each and every day, and I’m going to keep focusing on that and what I need to do to turn this organization around and win games.”
Whether Taylor can lead the Browns’ resurgence by holding off Mayfield’s progress and pressure to play him depends largely on his own performance.
But things happen. Mayfield appears to be progressing quickly, and he’s flashing great arm talent and understanding of the magnitude of everything it takes from an athlete to become a successful NFL quarterback.
This isn’t a negative for the Browns, or for Taylor. The overarching theme in Berea this offseason has been fueling success through competition and depth.
As if Taylor needed any other motivation, Mayfield’s rise is going to help push him to helping deliver wins in Cleveland now, not later. He doesn’t have much choice.
It’s time to win games again in Cleveland.