Hey, we just met you
This might sound crazy
But we're all in on Baker
He can play ... maybe
This is where I am as a Browns fan these days. When Mayfield was selected #1 overall earlier this year, my first thought was, Man, Brandon Weeden looks younger.
The talking heads talked about the intangibles. They did that with Johnny Football, too, he of the 5-7 TD-INT ratio in 8 games with the Montreal Alouettes this season. That's about as exciting as gas station coffee and day-old donuts. Here's a picture, because the Internet. How's the CFL, hoser?
As a kid, I thought 1988 was awful. The Browns started four quarterbacks that year, due to an injury to Bernie Kosar. I know Mike Pagel was one, and Don Strock started the playoff game. I don't remember or even care about the fourth.
Little did I know the misery that awaited from 1999 on. The Browns have started 30 different, distinct individuals at quarterback since then. Browns fans can't be blamed for being gun-shy about getting attached to these people at this point.
It's kind of a foreign idea in Cincinnati, where quarterbacks and coaches actually have to retire to escape their sentences. In Cleveland, all you have to do is show up to practice with a visor and a clipboard, and you'll get your chance under center eventually. It does help if your last name is McCown, admittedly.
So, enter Baker Mayfield. in the previous 20 seasons, the Browns "best" quarterback was probably Derek Anderson, who made the Pro Bowl in 2007 while throwing 29 TDs and going 10-5 as as starter. Tim Couch started the most games, compiling a .373 winning percentage over parts of 5 seasons. Hue Jackson is impressed by this, but he's the only one.
Mayfield is inspiring a lot of confidence in BelieveLand these days. He's the heir to the title of Most Loved Athlete in Town, which was bestowed on him by none other than LeBron. He's fun on the field. He speaks his mind. He wouldn't hug his former coach, and said there were bad feelings that Hue went to Cincinnati.
He's daring us to hope.
As a fan base, we've been burned before. Five frustrating years of Tim Couch's unrealized potential. Kelly Holcomb throwing all over Pittsburgh in a playoff game, until it mattered. Charlie Frye, for some damn reason. Derek Anderson's competence, and the corpses of Jeff Garcia and Trent Dilfer. Brady Quinn and DeShone Kizer's ... Notre Dameness? And, because this can't be emphasized enough, Charlie Frye for some damn reason.
So forgive me if it's taken me a bit to warm up to Baker. I can't relate to this, but I think it would be akin to an attractive woman with minimal baggage working really hard to date me. I'd be suspicious of all the things that weren't being said, like My ex-husband just got out of jail for a triple murder or You've already got herpes, right?
That's what it's like to be a Browns fan in 2018 - and still, as he windmills his arm running downfield to celebrate a touchdown, I want to believe. When he jumps up after getting hit and barks at the opposing defense, there's still a part of me that smirks. Who was the last Browns quarterback to do that? Otto Graham? I'm honestly asking.
In 11 games, 10 as starter, he's 5-6. He's thrown nearly double the amount of touchdowns as he has interceptions. His quarterback rating is over 90, and he's completing close to 2/3 of his passes. Essentially, he's not playing like a rookie surrounded by stiffs when the reality is, he's a rookie surrounded by stiffs.
So I hope that Mayfield stays healthy. I hope he continues to get better. He reminds me less of Manziel, to whom he drew comparisons in and after college, than he does Brett Favre, in that he takes chances and has charisma. It's not a total parallel, but there's an element of it.
It's a scary thing, but we're all in on Baker.
Can he stay healthy? Maybe.