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Baker Mayfield needs to shed the weight of a bad season: Bud Shaw’s Sports Spin

The Browns and their quarterback hope to be in better shape in 2020.

Former WBC heavyweight champ Deontay Wilder blames the 45-pound costume he wore into the ring in his recent loss to Tyson Fury for tiring out his legs during the fight.

The New York Times described the outfit as “Dr. Octagon Stages a Coup in Westeros.”

The entrance took heavyweight boxing on a long, strange ride from the spartan days when Mike Tyson wore shorts, no shirt and no socks.

All I’ll say is it’s a good thing Wilder lost or this kind of attempted intimidation might become common pre-game posturing.

Not just in boxing. There’s a lot of copy-catting that goes on in sports.

So this probably doesn’t need to be said. But just in case it does, I think I speak for Browns fans when I say don’t get any ideas, Baker.

Same for you, Odell.

  • Baker Mayfield should expect to be coached harder in 2020 after a poor second NFL season. New offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt has cited the need for cleaner footwork. Not that Mayfield needs to lose the equivalent of a 45-pound costume, but one national report suggests he wants to be lighter this season after bulking up in an attempt to prevent injury after his rookie year.

If I were him, I’d say getting in better shape was my idea, too.

  • The beauty of Mayfield’s rookie year wasn’t the quality of opponents he beat. But that wasn't a fair measurement anyway. It was the way he moved in the pocket and avoided sacks without exposing himself to big hits.

That’s a form of injury prevention all by itself. And something that can only help.

From the first day of camp this past summer, he looked heavier. You could be cynical and wonder if he deliberately bulked up or simply didn’t work as hard last offseason as he did coming into the league.

 Showered with praise and commercial endorsements, Mayfield wouldn't be the first young player to take things for granted or to expect experience alone to propel his career.

Saying he needs to be coached harder puts the onus on him for not pushing himself. That’s not totally fair.

 Foremost, he needs to be coached better. And — how about this for a change? — by the same people for more than one year.

Imagine.

  • That responsibility falls to head coach Kevin Stefanski and Van Pelt this season. Beyond that, no organization can claim it’s fully behind a young quarterback until the owner hires a good coach and commits to him for more than a year or two.

The Browns have let Mayfield down a lot more than he’s let them down.

I say this even though he’s immature, even though he’s not exactly prone to critical self-examination.

And I’ll continue to say it. Unless he comes out for warmups against the Giants and new tight end coach Freddie Kitchens dressed like Deontay Wilder vs. Fury.

  • So the Browns might pursue Chase Daniel to play backup quarterback? I think this was a story in 2016 but I may have that confused with 2015 or 2017 or really any year between Tim Couch and the Baker Mayfield draft.
  • It’s clear the Browns see the need to change the dynamic around Mayfield. Last season, with Kitchens already in Mayfield’s camp, Ryan Lindley as QB coach and old friend Garrett Gilbert as backup, Mayfield had friends in high places.

And all other places, too.

  • He doesn’t necessarily need someone (Case Keenum?) to challenge him for his job. I’d wait a year on that. He does need to feel challenged to get better.

 Or what is commonly known as “good coaching.”

  • Andrew Berry says he will remain flexible in constructing the Browns roster, explaining that he could trade down or he could trade up in the April draft. And some year as media members we will stop asking a question we know no front office will answer on March 1, or any other date for that matter.
  • J.B. Bickerstaff’s record is 3-1 after the Cavs defeated the Sixers Wednesday. It’s almost enough to make you forget John Beilein won four of his first nine with even more inexperienced players. The difference? Kevin Love is talking about the team camaraderie under Bickerstaff being off the charts good. Love was never on board with Beilein. So maybe things will be better for Bickerstaff in the long run now that Love can be counted on to be with the Cavs head coach win or win.
  • The Cavs have clearly responded to Bickerstaff. They look better under him. And right on cue for a franchise that seems to take one step forward and one-and-a-half back they also look better without Andre Drummond.
  • In an unrelated story, the owner of the iconic Woodstock stage will donate the festival artifact to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in a ceremony next week. The stage that no doubt Rob Manfred would call “that splinter factory.”
  • If it’s late February, it’s Scouting Combine time. And if it’s Scouting Combine time, the conversation must be about the size of quarterback prospects hands. It’s in the rules. Joe Burrow, expected to go No. 1 overall to Cincinnati, is having none of it and fun with it at the same time after his hands measured on the smallish side.

That’s funny. It will remain funny until the ball slips out of his tiny hands in a 20-point Bengals loss.

  • If the Browns season and winter still has you in the dumps, we will leave you with this from punter Jamie Gillan.

Have a weekend.

Spring, if not the playoffs, is right around the corner.

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