CLEVELAND — Is Baker Mayfield's supporting cast sufficient?
"It was today," coach Gregg Williams said after his Browns racked up 427 yards in a 28-16 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Mayfield hasn't exactly walked into Big Ben's Wonder World.
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger broke in with All-Pro talent (Jerome Bettis, Hines Ward, Plaxico Buress, Alan Faneca, etc.) all over an offense that was part of a 15-1 season.
If Mayfield hasn't been looking like a slam dunk of a No. 1 overall pick, he hasn't quite been playing with a fantasy-league all-star team.
But there were signs of life surrounding the Browns' prized rookie on Sunday.
In the first half, Mayfield ran the offense as if checking off the threats at his disposal one by one.
An eight-play, 88-yard scoring drive reflected his best work as a Brown. The cast (with mini-bios):
Check. Wide receiver Breshad Perriman (No. 26 overall pick in 2015, by the Baltimore Ravens) opened the march with a 16-yard catch in front of the Browns' bench.
Check. Tight end David Njoku (No. 29 overall pick in 2017) held on to a second-and-long Mayfield laser over the middle, in traffic, for 18 yards.
Check. Coordinator Freddie Kitchens sent in a first-down pass. Rookie running back Nick Chubb (No. 35 overall pick), was quite open when Mayfield checked down to him for 13 yards.
Check. On second-and-long, Mayfield tried to get the ball in space to Duke Johnson (third-round pick, 2015). It got just a yard, giving Mayfield a chance to test the arsenal on a third-and-long.
Check. Jarvis Landry got open on the right side for 10 yards and a first down.
Check. Rashard Higgins (fifth-round pick in 2016), who became Mayfield's buddy boy in training camp, understood exactly where to go when pal was flushed and sprinted right. "Hollywood" made himself an easy target for a 28-yard touchdown.
Kitchens dialed up a wishbone series. Chubb lined up at tailback, with Johnson and Dontrell Hilliard (undrafted rookie) forming a triangle as up backs. The Falcons seemed confused. The Browns made a cute little advance from their own 24 to the Falcons' 34, with Hilliard getting just his second touch as a pro.
Then … too cute. The Falcons sniffed out a trick-play pass from Hilliard to the quarterback, Mayfield. Easy interception.
Mayfield kept spreading the ball around, keeping a below-average defense off balance.
The next drive began with Mayfield hitting Antonio Callaway (rookie fourth-round pick) for 25 yards over the middle. A bit later, tight end Orson Charles (12 career catches in six years) helped keep the drive rolling with a 6-yard catch. Mayfield went on to finish an 80-yard touchdown drive.
Mayfield used Johnson, Chubb and Landry on a 41-yard touchdown drive.
Chubb stood out, cranking out 209 rushing-receiving yards. Johnson chipped in with 46 yards from scrimmage. Otherwise, the Browns nickeled and dimed the Falcons to death. Note the distribution of receiving yards among Callaway (39), Perriman (33), Higgins (28), Landry (22) and Njoku (18).
Are these guys enough?
Here's how Mayfield answered that one, postgame:
“With a healthy Callaway and Breshad Perriman, we can do a lot of things. We have guys that can stretch the field. Then you have consistent guys like Higgins. Jarvis is one of the smartest players on the field. We play off of that with the receivers. You guys have said we might need receivers and all that, but I have trusted those guys and you saw it today. They did their job. When they do that and we do that, it is something special. Add in our tight ends, and we can be very explosive.”