Cleveland Browns fans had to wait an awfully long time — 635 days to be exact — for last week’s win over the Jets.
They’ve waited even longer for a franchise quarterback to arrive.
The man who they hope is the answer, top overall pick Baker Mayfield, will become the 30th Browns quarterback to start since the team returned as an expansion franchise in 1999 when Cleveland (1-1-1) visits the Oakland Raiders (0-3) on Sunday.
Any pressure, Baker?
“It is 2018,” Mayfield said Monday. “Don’t really care.”
The former college walk-on and Heisman Trophy-winner seemed equally oblivious to the burden in his debut against the Jets, going 17 of 23 for 201 yards to overcome a 14-0 deficit. But he’s focused on not getting caught up in the hype.
“Even though I had one good game, that is just a building block,” Mayfield said. “I did not come here just to win one game, and I did not come here just to start the next. We are building a franchise here and we are turning it around.”
Raiders coach Jon Gruden said Mayfield has been “impressive,” both in the pre season and the rookie’s debut.
“The guy’s got the ‘it’ factor,” Gruden said. “He’s got the charisma. He’s got the competitiveness. He’s got the feel. He’s got the ability to be great, I think.
.”..Mayfield has the magic about him.”
Now with more than a half-game regular-season film available, Mayfield’s test will get tougher. Gruden and defensive coordinator Paul Guenther have something specific to study and prepare for.
“Oh, absolutely no doubt,” Jackson said of game plans being designed to shut down Mayfield. “I think he gets that. The game is going to change for him a little bit.”
The Raiders, meanwhile, are looking for their first win in Gruden’s new tenure. They led by as many as seven in Week 1, 12 in Week 2 and 10 in Week 3 but have come up empty each time, getting outscored 30-3 in the fourth quarter.
“I do not care what their record says,” Jackson said. .”..When we watch them on tape, it does not say that they are a 0-3 football team.”
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr has seen plenty of promise despite the lack of results.
“I mean it really is,” Carr said. “That’s the sucky part about that, the way that we’ve lost. Losing, you look at all the bad stuff. ...We all need to correct here and there a little bit, but it’s not drastic stuff.”
As Oakland looks to get on track, this matchup also brings familiarity. Not only was Jackson the Raiders’ head coach in 2011, but Jackson and Gruden worked on the same staff at the University of the Pacific — just 68 miles from Oakland Alameda Coliseum — in 1989.
“He taught me football,” Jackson said of Gruden. “I was a wishbone quarterback at the time. I have always given Jon a lot of credit for where I am today because he helped mold me and shape me into the coach that I am a little bit.”
Both teams come into the game relatively healthy. Browns linebacker Christian Kirksey (ankle, shoulder) should return to the lineup, and Tyrod Taylor should be ready to back up Mayfield after clearing concussion protocol Thursday.
The Raiders will likely be without safety Karl Joseph (hamstring), who has primarily played special teams, but everyone else on the roster practiced Wednesday.
Oakland will have a new kicker, having signed undrafted rookie Matt McCrane with veteran Mike Nugent (hip) on injured reserve.
—Field Level Media