A Difference in Expectations – Why Sam Darnold should start and Baker Mayfield shouldn’t

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As the NFL regular season approaches, a talking point has emerged in regards to the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns starting quarterback position. Both have rookie QB’s chosen within the top 5 of this years draft and both have veteran QB’s who are proven commodities. There is an argument to be made as to whether or not Baker Mayfield and Sam Darnold should start for their respective teams given their draft status. But for the Browns and Jets, their reasoning will be based off expectations. The Browns have expectations to be better, especially considered how loaded they are with talent and if they aren’t successful then coach Hue Jackson will definently be released. The Jets have little to no expectations and Todd Bowles shouldn’t be punished as this will be his first year with a talented quarterback.

While I’m a believer in Teddy Bridgewater and am glad to see him back on the field. He should be viewed as an insurance policy if Darnold gets injured. The Jets aren’t a particularly talented team offensively, they have good receivers in Anderson, Enunwa, and Kearse, but they aren’t game changers. Darnold will have his ups and downs as all rookie QB’s do, but the expectations for the Jets are going to be nil. They arent expected to compete with the Patriots for the division and aren’t viewed as a playoff team. This is a low risk, high reward proposition for the Jets and will help develop Darnold, who is their future.

Jets fans will accept a losing season if it means Darnold develops. They can focus on surrounding him with talent next season and this could only benefit the franchise in the long run. He is athletic, strong-armed, and has the maturity to take the criticism that comes from playing in New York. There is a lot of optimism surrounding Darnold and while his impact won’t be the same as DeShaun Watson, he will be fun to watch.

Baker Mayfield will be the future of the Browns, but shouldn’t see field unless Tyrod Taylor gets injured. The Browns have the unfortunate luck of coming off an 0-16 season and have only won one game in two years. The fanbase deserves better and it’s time for a change of pace in regards to their QB situation. Rookie QB’s or journeymen players have been the status quo for the Browns the last few years and there has been no success. Tyrod Taylor, who just helped break the Bills playoff drought, should be the starter at the beginning of the season. This is a loaded roster on the both sides of the ball and their goals for the season should be to make the playoffs. They have the talent to win and could be the surprise team of the league.

The success of the Browns will completely hinge on their QB decision. Throwing Baker Mayfield into the fire would be beneficial for his development, but it may end in members of the coaching staff losing their job. This will be a delicate situation all year as the Browns have been the punching bag for the league for far too long. Fans will be upset if Baker doesn’t start but it shouldn’t diminish the optimism for this upcoming season. Tyrod is a talented player who won’t make silly decisions that could end up costing the game. He’s also a one-year rental and is a player that Baker can learn from.

Losing tends to influence the decisions that we see take place in sports. But there are different levels to losing. The Browns find themselves as perennial losers who desperately need their fortunes changed. They need a foundation to build from or the “Sadness Factory” will be their moniker for the near future. The Jets find themselves in a slump but their ownership and decision-makers are nowhere near as bad as the Browns. The Jets require a few more pieces to be competitive again, while the Browns need to execute with their roster as loaded as they are.

The difference in expectations between the teams are glaring. This upcoming season is priming to be a very interesting one.

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