BEREA — Hue Jackson named Tyrod Taylor the starting quarterback in March without coaching him on the field or in a meeting room.
Nearly three months have passed, and Jackson feels justified in the decision.
“I made a commitment to him. He’s held up his end of the bargain with not just the way he works but the way he plays and the way he leads and he’s earned the right to be the starting quarterback here,” Jackson said Wednesday after a minicamp practice. “I know it was given in the beginning but he still had to do the things that were going to let him be the starting quarterback here and he’s done that.”
Taylor withstood the selection of Baker Mayfield with the No. 1 pick in the draft and remains entrenched as the starter heading into training camp. It would be a big upset if Taylor isn’t the starter Week 1 against Pittsburgh.
“He’s been a real good find for us,” Jackson said. “He’s very steady, very competitive. I think he’s really taken to the way we coach him, I think he likes the system he’s playing in. We’ve just got to continue to support him to be the best he can be.”
Taylor is mild-mannered in front of the media, but Jackson said he’s a fighter.
“I see a side of him that I don’t think you guys really get to see,” he said. “It got really competitive out there a couple of times when I’ve called a sack and he says, ‘Coach, they would never have gotten me.’ And the defensive players were woofing a little bit and he told them, ‘I saw your tape, so you wouldn’t have gotten me.’
“So trust me, there might be some things going on in the locker room right now.”
Taylor was acquired in a trade from Buffalo after going 22-21 in three years as the starter and ending a playoff drought last season. He quickly established himself as the leader of the Browns and believes it’s become his team.
“Yes, I feel that way. I never doubted that,” he said. “It takes time to learn guys on both sides of the ball. It takes time to learn the building, but as far as me commanding and taking control of the huddle, taking control of groups when we are working out and speaking up when stuff needs to be said, I definitely feel comfortable in doing that. I think guys respect that.”
Receiver Josh Gordon raved about the example set by Taylor.
“All I can do is make sure that I’m doing everything I can do to try to match Tyrod’s level of intensity, his focus every morning,” Gordon said Tuesday. “He’s the first guy in, he’s the last guy to leave. I don’t know a quarterback that works harder than Tyrod. He’s definitely set the bar.”
Gordon put a bit of a target on the Browns’ backs when he said the receiving corps is the most talented in the NFL. Fellow receiver Jarvis Landry agreed with the assertion.
The comments felt out of place coming from a team that went 0-16, but the quarterbacks had their receivers’ backs.
“I love the confidence in those guys, every receiver definitely feels that they’re the best,” Taylor said. “I think that’s what makes them unique and able to play that position.
“Whether you say it or not, it really boils down to what you do. Now that the statement’s out there, we have to go out there and prove it.”
Taylor agreed the group is “very talented” but said that doesn’t necessarily win games.
“It’s up to us to go out there and execute it,” he said. “And that’s my job, to make sure everyone’s focused on executing and doing that day in and day out, so it carries over to gamedays.”
ALL IN THE FAMILY
Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam are adding another executive vice president in JW Johnson. They know him well: He’s their son-in-law.
The Haslams want the Browns to be a family organization, and Johnson’s family is moving to the Cleveland area. He’s been around the organization since the Haslams bought it in 2012 but will take on a larger role.
Johnson’s background is in TV and marketing but he will learn the entire operation.
Gordon said Tuesday he and Mayfield had become good friends. Mayfield said Wednesday the bond was formed over Xbox, the video game system.
“Anytime you can become friends with a receiver like that, it’s going to help you out, but it’s much more than that,” Mayfield said. “I’m excited to be here, starting to get settled in. That’s why the relationship is growing. And it’s not just with Josh. It’s with every other receiver, as well.
“But he’s a good guy. I’m hoping we get this thing turned around. He’s going to be a huge factor in that. I’m looking forward to continue to grow with him.”
COME BACK SOON
Jackson had a couple of treats for the team when practice ended. He had a tropical shaved Kona Ice truck waiting next to the field and he canceled Thursday’s practice. The players still have meetings scheduled before they’re dismissed until training camp in late July.
“I feel good about where we are. I feel good about everything that we have done up until this point,” Jackson said. “Now they have got to get away from here and train like a son of a gun to get themselves ready to go when we come back for training camp to have a chance to earn a right to be on this football team.
“I like the makeup of the team. There is talent at a lot of different positions. That talent has to play well every week to give us a chance to win.”
Taylor and Landry hooked up to steal play of the day late in the practice.
Taylor rolled left and made a great throw to the back corner of the end zone, where Landry made an acrobatic catch despite close coverage from undrafted rookie Micah Hannemann.
** The leader in the clubhouse had been rookie sixth-round receiver Damion Ratley’s 68-yard catch-and-run for a touchdown in a two-minute drill. Mayfield hit Ratley in stride on a slant, and he turned upfield and outran the secondary.
** Defensive end Myles Garrett went between left guard Joel Bitonio and left tackle Shon Coleman to sack Taylor to end the starters’ two-minute drill.
** Rookie cornerback Denzel Ward, the No. 4 pick, showed his physicality in breaking up a slant to Landry on the goal line.
Taylor said he was shocked by how well running back Carlos Hyde catches.
** Jackson said a high volume of playing time and blocking took a toll last year on tight end David Njoku and he wore down at the end of the season. Jackson expects big things in Njoku’s second season.
** The Browns claimed linebacker Brady Sheldon (6-foot-5, 220 pounds) off waivers from Oakland. Cornerback Howard Wilson (torn patellar tendon) was placed on injured reserve.
** Jackson said fullback Danny Vitale’s leg injury suffered Tuesday isn’t serious.