CLEVELAND — Give Browns fans Baker Mayfield or give them death.
Preferably, death by chocolate, or cream donuts or something just as figurative and tasty.
It’s easy for people to come to Mayfield’s defense, given the excellence of his rookie season, but also it’s made easier by the nature of his mistakes.
Remember that campaign rally a couple years ago when a certain presidential candidate joked (we think) that he “could shoot somebody and not lose any (support)?”
It would be a gross exaggeration to say the same about Baker Mayfield in Cleveland these days.
He would almost certainly be mildly criticized for shooting someone. At least by gun-control advocates.
After people were done marveling at the accuracy of his shot.
Let’s put this in perspective. All Mayfield did last Sunday was shoot Hue Jackson a look.
Even if the look lasted longer than most audiences are giving “Holmes & Watson” before walking out of movie theaters this holiday season, it was still just a look.
Was it unnecessary? Absolutely.
It also wasn’t the end of the world. And it certainly wasn’t enough to merit this from The Big Lead:
“Baker Mayfield has presented himself as a tough guy. So assuming he isn’t a giant phony, the time has come for him to either fight Hue Jackson or let this sophomoric beef go.”
Well, now. There’s a take as nuanced as the old “America: Love or it Leave It” bumper stickers.
Look, if Mayfield allows his issues with Hue Jackson to spill into next season we can reclassify his stare down to something more troublesome. He hasn’t played a full season in the NFL (which might be part of his issue with Jackson, who, remember, congratulated him on Hard Knocks for beating out Drew Stanton — Drew Stanton). So let's see what happens from here.
Unless he starts offering to meet Jackson in the tunnel at halftime next year for Fight Club when he should be inside with his teammates, my guess is this issue will fade away.
- I’ve always thought Browns quarterbacks staring down receivers was a more damning issue.
- Mayfield’s take this week probably only prolonged the discussion.
"I don't get why people have a problem with football being a competitive sport,” Mayfield said of the criticism he’s received. “You're supposed to play with passion. If people don't like it…whatever."
True. You are supposed to play with passion.
But it’s just as true he was feeling competitive and passionate against Atlanta, Carolina and Denver, too, but didn’t show up the coaching staffs of those organizations.
It’s not a huge deal, as I said. But it’s also just not about being competitive.
Something tells me the resentments Mayfield feels toward Jackson couldn’t be sorted out in a season of Dr. Phil let alone in a season matchup with the Bengals.
- I’ll probably hear from people who take issue with me calling Mayfield’s stare down unnecessary.
Look, I’m not get-off-my-lawn-guy.
In fact, you can stay on my lawn for as long as you want. Have yourself a beer. Play some cornhole. It’s all good.
But if you start taunting me, I’m probably turning the sprinkler on you.
- Are we good now, Browns Fan?
- The Browns have so many reasons to feel good about the next five years. Mayfield is the biggest one.
Cincinnati is downward trending. Baltimore is not. But its style of offense with Lamar Jackson behind center isn’t sustainable, or built to overcome days when its defense is leaking points.
Pittsburgh will be formidable as long as Ben Roethlisberger remains a healthy starter.
With the expected improvement of Mayfield over the next few years, though, Pittsburgh won’t have an edge at quarterback beyond next season if that.
What Pittsburgh and Baltimore do have in place is a proven head coach and staff.
Many of you want that to be Gregg Williams.
Here’s an idea. Rely on John Dorsey to hire the best coach he can find.
Because if he doesn't get that chance it means Jimmy Haslam has now hired Dorsey and told him he needs to keep Gregg Williams a year after telling him he needed to keep Hue Jackson.
He’s your GM. He knows more than you. Do you trust him or not?
Seems simple. As simple as anything ever can in Berea.
- Can Freddie Kitchens candidacy as the next Browns head coach really be improved by his success calling plays?
If he projects as a serious head coach candidate, doesn’t it have to be for reasons above and beyond his work as an offensive coordinator?
His demeanor? The way he works with other coaches? And with players?
His ability to galvanize a team? His people skills? His game management instincts?
I mean, it can’t be just because of his aggressive play calling.
You know whose offense also looked good before he became a head coach?
Not saying Kitchens should like that comparison. Just saying.
- In previous years when the Browns could not make the playoffs, some wanted them to lose out to improve their draft position as much as possible.
DIdn’t hear any of that last week or this week.
Winning is never a bad idea.
Especially, when you have your quarterback and don’t care which college QBs are declaring for the draft.
- Five teams that didn’t make the postseason a year ago have qualified this time around. That’s not unusual.
Unusual is not making the playoffs since 2002 while holding Top 10 draft picks a dozen times since then.
Actually, that's not unusual. That's unheard of.
- Jarvis Landry learned a little history this week when the media mentioned the Ravens franchise was known as the Browns before Art Modell’s end around in 1995.
"So really," he asked, "the Cleveland team became the Baltimore Ravens?"
“Damn. That hurt didn’t it?”
Landry was three years old living in Louisiana when the Browns moved.
He turned seven in the 1999 season when the Browns returned.
What hurts people here even more is that he turned 26 before the Browns finally looked like they might actually be good again.
- Browns 17, Ravens 16
The last game of the season traditionally involves the Browns No. 3 quarterback.
If Drew Stanton gets in this one, this score I’m picking will make those Y2K doomsday scenarios look spot on by comparison.