Tyrod Taylor is not the most important player on the Browns. This title belongs to his second best, Baker Mayfield. But make no mistake: Taylor is an important piece of the puzzle, as Cleveland tries to get out of hell, which is Jimmy Fallon Pointe.
In Taylor, the Browns are in possession of something they did not have 20 years – a stable presence behind the center. During his years with the bills, Taylor was smart, reliable, and typically productive. He has never been a star, but he has qualities that have kept the Browns at the game's most important position for decades.
So you can understand the dark cloud that hung over the Browns sideline after Taylor clumsily landed on his left arm in the first quarter of the team pre-season match against the Eagles last Thursday. Taylor did not manage to get up quickly (never a good sign) and jogged to his sideline with his left arm dangling at his side (one of the worst signs). Soon there would be a trip to the X-ray room to determine the fate of his – and perhaps Brown's – season.
Hard Knocks can not give us complete access to this rarely seen, unfortunate but crucial aspect of the football experience. Cameras are not allowed in the temporary tent that was built along the Browns sideline, as Taylor's jacked-up hand is poked by the team's medical team. The same applies to the eventual trip to the X-ray room. But the quarterback is designed for sound … and he tells a compelling story.
"Oh my god, I can not feel it," Taylor wails as he sits on the exam table.
Taylor's injury looked bad. If you were only provided with recreational material and entertainment in the tent, you would be sure that Taylor completed an accident course with an injured reserve.
"Is it in your shoulder?" an unidentified man asks in the tent before Taylor unleashes a disturbing guttural howl. It's my hand ! Seconds later we see Brown's coach Hue Jackson on the sidelines, his eyes focused on the field, but his thoughts are obvious with his suddenly absent QB1. "How bad is it?" Hue asks Joe Sheehan, Browns vice president for health and development of players, and it sounds like Hue is asking a question he does not want to answer. "To be precise," Sheehan replies.
When the Browns finally go out on the streets again this year, Cleveland was paused Thursday night because there was no rest, Taylor had dislocated his little finger and injured his hand, but he had not suffered a serious setback, exhaling from the FirstEnergy Stadium could scatter stretched boats along the West Basin.
When Taylor came out of the locker room and told Jackson that he was fine, the coach hesitated not to bring his leader back into the game.
Should Taylor have returned to a pointless preseason contest? Probably not, but Jackson simply decided not to entertain a reality where his quarterback was not up to the task. Baker Mayfield is the key to Cleveland's future, but it is Tyrod Taylor who could ultimately decide on the future of the head coach.
Also on the sidelines one could wish.
Extra points …
– Back in the premiere, Jackson fought back criticism (and a challenge) from new offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who questioned the Brown's hardness and the staff's apparent willingness to rest players little pain suffered. But Hue, at least in the design of Hard Knocks seems to be Haley's face. "We have to keep pushing these guys," Jackson says during a workout, sounding very different from the guy who beat Haley a few weeks ago. "We will not be nice to them, F — that, we're going to become a bunch of stubborn, physical SOBs, that'll need it."
Does Hard Knocks make rapid changes in the mindset and decision-making of the people it covers? The short answer: Probably, yes.
– There is a joint review Hard Knocks that, now 13 seasons in, certain beats of the show are too predictable. Reporting on the annual rookie show is a well-known pillar of the show, but the Browns have reoriented the competition this year with pre-glued video segments. Yep, the Browns have bits!
Here's Mayfield (makes a hard charge for Hard Knock's XIII MVP honors) makes his best impression of General Manager John Dorsey:
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August 29, 2018
And then there is still our favorite; Blake Jackson's redefinition of Jarvis Landry's fiery address from Episode 1. I love the way the receiver pulls his toe while wearing two protective boots. This is elite prop comedy.
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August 29, 2018
– I can not stop staring at Bob Wylie's stomach when he says "hat."
– During a FOX pre-production meeting with Troy Aikman and others, Tyrod introduces Taylor himself as "Ty-rod", not as "Ta-rod". The debate has calmed down.
– Why does it feel like Myles Garrett is a deadly barrier to sack the league this season? Yes, the Hard Knocks lens was known to distort reality (see: 2017 Buccaneers), but Garrett just looked like a man among boys against the Eagles.
– Speaking of linebacker Mychal Kendrick had no problem with his old teammates as the Browns prepared for their pre-season fixture. A Brief Overview of His Honest Scouting Report:
QB Nick Foles: The quarterback's deep ball has a "teardrop effect." Defensive backs have to distrust the angle of a deep ball that looks like it has fallen from the sky.
TE Zach Ertz: "86" is the best recipient in the team, but he does not. Do not live for the physical aspects of his position. "He does not want smoke."
OL Halapoulivaati Vaitai: "He does not trust his feet at all." They approach him, his self-confidence is sinking. " Garrett would soon make Kendrick look smart.
– Gregg Williams Quote of the Week: "We look like a f —— drunk who falls out of the backseat of a goddamn pickup."
– The dormant trailer is not as sexy or exclusive as the QB RV.
– "Michael Jackson is Michael Jordan, Chris Brown is LeBron, and Usher is Kobe." This must be on the short list of most mill recordings of all time. MJ and MJ are fine, but Prince is clearly LeBron … and Drake is Kobe.
Follow Dan Hanzus on Twitter @danhanzus . More about Hanzus can be found three times a week in the Around The NFL Podcast.