CLEVELAND – Tyrod Taylor doesn’t look back much, and he doesn’t hold a grudge against the Cleveland Browns, his opponent on Sunday and his employer in 2018 as the bridge quarterback for first overall pick Baker Mayfield.
What would be the point of this for the ferryman of the Texans?
Taylor, replacement for besieged Pro Bowl quarterback Deshaun Watson, comes off a solid performance as he led the Texans to a 37-21 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars to open the season. He spent a season at Cleveland a year after a 0-16 season and was briefly the starter ahead of Mayfield in the rookie season of the former Oklahoma star and Heisman Trophy winner, until he suffered a concussion in a Thursday night game and Hue Jackson replaced him. after three games with Mayfield.
âI mean, whenever you get the chance to play against your old team, it’s definitely an opportunity for you to show how you’ve grown as a player,â said Taylor. âEveryone’s story is different. Am I looking forward to going back? Yes. But it’s not about me, it’s about our team here and us who are working hard throughout this week and our run on Sunday.
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“It’s never about me or my feelings when it comes to playing against previous teams. Yes, that’s part of it, but I’m not going to make a big deal out of it. It’s about my performance at a high level this weekend as well as everyone in the locker room. ”
Against the Jaguars, Taylor had 291 yards and two touchdowns with a 112.1 passer rating for his highest start since 2017, when he had 126.0 with the Buffalo Bills in his third game of the season.
With the Browns, Taylor completed 49.1% of his throws for 473 yards, two touchdowns and two interceptions for a 64.5 passer rating and was sacked 13 times in three games and went 1-1-1 in as a starter.
âI mean, obviously it didn’t end the way I wanted it to,â Taylor said of his only season at Cleveland. âBut I think I grew as a person over that year, facing adversity, also becoming more of a vocal leader than I had before until then. The team we had in Cleveland in 18 was pretty young so you had to find different ways to lead. At the time I think I was like the third oldest on the team.
âThe guys thought of me as the older guy, or one of the older players. More vocal sometimes. It’s hard to remember or it’s hard to take out of this year, but more importantly, I think it was more on the personal side than football. ”
Meanwhile, Taylor shared a quarterback room and a private quarterback RV room with Mayfield, Drew Stanton and former undrafted free agent Brogan Roback. It was documented on HBO Hard knocks program as a humorous subplot.
âIt was a sacred space,â Taylor said with a smile. “I can’t tell these stories.”
Since then, Taylor has worked to hone her skills and keep striving to improve. His coaching position with the Bills and now his head coach in Houston, David Culley has witnessed Taylor’s progress.
âHis pocket presence is better,â Culley said. âIt is much better in the pocket. He sees things much better. He releases the ball better than when I had it before.
There are still areas where Culley wants to see Taylor improve, including avoiding potential interceptions. Taylor was almost eliminated at the start of the Jaguars game.
âI would like to see it a little more consistent and have a faster start,â Culley said. âWith him throwing the ball, we didn’t get the start we needed. He was just a little early. That very first pass could have been an interception and could have affected the game. And he missed a shot after that.
âWe have to be precise when we throw, especially when we throw from the pocket. He must be able to get it out on time.
Signed on a one-year, $ 12.5 million contract, Taylor totaled 10,061 career yards, 56 touchdowns and 20 interceptions for a career passer rating of 90.0. He spent a year supporting Philip Rivers with the Chargers and benefited from that experience.
âI think I’m a lot better,â Taylor said. âI think I obviously learned a lot from that year, but also from the next two years with the Chargers. Watch Philip, how he prepared and even took an offseason and prepares to be the starter last year and even this year. I think I’ve really learned a lot and become a better player since, and that’s always the goal, to be better this year than the year before.
Taylor is coached for the second year in a row by Pep Hamilton, the Texans’ passing coordinator and quarterback coach who coached him last season in Los Angeles.
âPep has done a good job of making sure his (passes) are on time and on pace,â Culley said. âHe has to keep doing it.
Taylor builds his timing and chemistry with wide receiver Brandin Cooks, trusting him on contested deep balls as they had five assists together for 132 yards against Jacksonville.
âBeing on the same page, talking about a lot of concepts in the field, in the movie theater, texting each other, just constant communication to make sure we see the defense with the same eye,â said Taylor. âThat way we can perform just by reacting and trusting what the other is going to do. ”
âI think he did a great job,â Cooks said. “I think he did an amazing job with us the receivers, the tight ends and the full backs, just being on the same page throughout this camp.”
Mayfield, an emerging young quarterback who is in consideration for a successful contract extension, has flourished since Taylor left. He led the Browns to the playoffs last season as they captured their first playoff victory since 1994.
Mayfield enjoyed his interactions with Taylor during their only season together.
âI think people took Tyrod for granted,â Mayfield said. âHe’s a great leader. His work ethic alone, his routine and being the same every day for every person in the building is a great way to show leadership.
“Obviously he’s a great athlete and a great quarterback. Everything he taught me by setting an example and doing different things, not that we were leading the same way, but there are always different ways to learn. I’m so grateful that I got into a QB with Drew Stanton and Tyrod that I got to learn from these guys. That’s something I’m obviously very grateful for.
Taylor hasn’t spent much time following Mayfield’s career. He’s focused on his own journey, which included losing his starting job last season with the Chargers when a team doctor accidentally punctured his lung while giving him a pain reliever injection for an injured rib.
âI have respect for Baker, but I don’t,â Taylor said. “I would be lying if I told you that I followed his career.”
It is another case of looking forward, not back.
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For the Texans, a 12Â½-point underdog after a decisive victory over a team that finished 1-15 a year ago, no one is getting arrogant, according to Taylor.
âNobody has a big head,â Taylor said. âThe guys are definitely confident in what they can do, but we also understand that we didn’t play a perfect game. There are things to clean up, and that’s what we’re working on this week as we prepare for Cleveland.
âAs for the swagger, I encourage him. I think it shows a level of confidence that you have, but there is still work to be done. We do not anticipate on ourselves.
The Browns were a playoff team a year ago. Despite a narrow loss to defending AFC champions Kansas City Chiefs at the start of the season, they are considered a strong contender for the playoffs and one of the best teams in the AFC.
âObviously these guys were in the playoffs last year and they have tremendous talent in their roster,â Taylor said. âOur standard is our standard every week, however. In order for us to be the team we need to be, we need to meet that standard no matter who we play.