Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft, guided the second-team offense to a touchdown against the second-team defense on his first possession Friday, but he struggled against the starters and could not get the offense into the end zone on a goal-line drill from the 1-yard line.
The scrimmage was a bit of a reality check for Mayfield at this point in his development. He played well against backups, struggled against starters and in the live action showed he has space to grow.
“He did get off to a hot start and led the team down there to score, but that’s what we expect,” coach Hue Jackson said. “He threw some good balls. The guy is throwing the ball extremely well, and you see the accuracy. He had a good day.”
Tyrod Taylor, meanwhile, had consecutive possessions where he completed every pass and scored touchdowns, something the Browns sorely lacked in 2017.
Though he had a three-and-out in his only series against the starters, Taylor had the better day overall. He completed passes to Darren Fells, Corey Coleman and David Njoku during a 75-yard scoring drive, capping it off with a touchdown pass to a wide-open Jarvis Landry.
That he completed passes to four different receivers on the drive is significant.
“The ball has to get spread around in our offense in order for us to be good,” Jackson said.
On Taylor's next drive, he threw for 22 yards to Duke Johnson and then connected on a 36-yarder for a touchdown to Landry, who reached back and made a one-handed snag.
“I thought he (Taylor) moved the team,” Jackson said. “Obviously made some plays down the field with the ball, threw the ball around. Tyrod did some good things out there.”
Landry was vintage “Juice” on the play. After the one-handed catch, he spun away from a tackle and stiff-armed linebacker James Burgess en route to the end zone, where he threw the ball to the fans.
Mayfield’s best plays came on his first possession, with twos facing twos. After having a ball knocked down at the line, Mayfield threw a perfect sideline route to C.J. Board, then stepped up to avoid the rush and found tight end Devon Cajuste to set up Nick Chubb's touchdown run.
Against the starters, Mayfield had a pass tipped at the line fall into the hands of Jamie Collins. A play earlier, a botched handoff led to a fumble that Mayfield dove to recover.
The scrimmage gave an early indication of where the quarterbacks stand. Mayfield has flashed ability, but he needs to learn and grow. Most of Mayfield’s work has come with backups against backups; playing against higher competition will help him.
Jackson has not wavered from saying Taylor is and will be the starter, and Landry has liked what he's seen from the veteran signal-caller, saying he is “everything that you ask for in a starting quarterback.”