Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns took care of one streak in week three with a 21-17 win over the New York Jets. So what’s next? How about the chance to end a couple more long losing streaks in a week four trip to the Bay Area to face Jon Gruden and his Oakland Raiders.
The Browns will be in search of their first victory on a Sunday since December 13, 2015. Cleveland beat the other NFL team from the Bay Area, the San Francisco 49ers. The quarterback that day, Johnny Manziel.
In addition, the Browns are in search of their first road victory since October 11, 2015 against the Baltimore Ravens in Baltimore. Finally, the Browns are looking to win back to back games since November, 2014.
There is plenty to play for when the Browns take the field at the Coliseum for the 4:05 p.m. kick off Cleveland time. The Browns last beat the Raiders in Oakland back in 2012 with Brandon Weeden at quarterback. The Browns have had success in the ‘Black Hole.’ In addition to Weeden, Charlie Frye guided Cleveland to a win in Oakland in 2006. If those quarterbacks can lead the Browns to victory in Oakland, so can Mayfield.
“First impressions are great,” Gruden said in a conference call with the Cleveland media. “I saw him play against the Giants in the preseason. That was my first impression. That first impression was awesome. I think that guy has the it factor. He has the charisma, the competitiveness, the feel. He has the ability to be great. What he did the other day coming off of the bench, down  and bringing his team back at home in front of his fans in his debut was awesome. It will be a challenge for us. He is a great young prospect.”
Mayfield certainly made quite an impression in his first regular season action in the NFL. When he takes the field on Sunday, Mayfield becomes quarterback number 30 to start for the Browns since 1999. How will he handle the pressure of his first NFL start?
“It is hard to say,” backup quarterback Drew Stanton said. “It is the first chance like you said that he has gotten to get out there and get on the same page with a lot of these guys. Just trying to communicate with them on what he is seeing and what they are doing. That is the best thing you can do as a quarterback is just try to prepare for ever scenario, communicate every little nuance and try to speed up that learning curve. It remains to be seen. He has not started a game yet so let’s see how it goes.”
Mayfield’s offensive coordinator believes in his rookie quarterback
“He has done a good job. Obviously, a big opportunity for him,” Todd Haley said. “He has stepped in and is working hard like he has been and getting an opportunity to try to get better.”
Sunday is also a homecoming for head coach Hue Jackson. He won eight games as the Raiders head coach in 2011 after serving as the offensive coordinator in 2010.
“It is a football game between the Browns and the Raiders. We are going to do everything that we can to go win the game,” Jackson said. “I have no other feeling than that. If anything, I would like to thank (the late Pro Football Hall of Famer and Raiders owner) Al Davis for the opportunity that he gave me. Al Davis is somebody who is very important in my life and my ability to be where I am today. I thank Al for that and the organization for the opportunity, but they are no different than any other team that we play. We have to get ourselves ready to play and go get a victory.”
If the Browns are going to end the three losing streaks, the key is to control the game early. The Raiders have played well in the first half in each of the first three games. Oakland has trouble finishing games.
“We have to play well early. We have got to take them out of their comfort zone,” Jackson said. “That is something they have known now for three weeks. Trust me, we have a lot of things that we have to worry about when it comes to us first and foremost, but we understand the challenge that presents itself with the Raiders.”
Sunday’s game might be the last time the Browns are scheduled to face the Raiders in Oakland. The Raiders will move to Las Vegas starting in the 2020 season. The Browns and Raiders could face each other in Oakland in 2019 if both teams finish in the same place in their respective divisions. The move is tough for Jackson to accept being a California native.
“It will be. That is all I have ever known,” Jackson said. “I remember when they were in L.A., and I was one of those guys that wore the yellow jacket CSC security that used to protect them as a young guy. I remember those days, and I remember since they have been in Oakland. What they have been and what they meant even to L.A. because L.A. was disappointed that they were gone. I am sure the City of Oakland will feel the same way when they leave and go to Vegas because that is tough. That is their team, and they really root for the Raiders. They made a decision that I think they needed to make in order for them to move forward, and they have to do what they have to do.”
The Browns are expected to have defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah and linebacker Christian Kirksey back for the game. Quarterback Tyrod Taylor traveled with the team and has been cleared of the concussion protocol. It will be interesting to see if all three quarterbacks will be active for the game.
Cleveland is a two and a half point underdogs. Fox Sports will broadcast the game. Kenny Albert, Ronde Barber and Megan Olivi will call the game.
Scott Piker is the Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Browns. So follow him on twitter @ScottPikerSport