CLEVELAND — The Browns won.
Nothing else to see here. Move along.
Not so fast. Stay as long as you want. In fact, get your popcorn.
There’s always a rubbernecking moment or five with this Browns team. They never disappoint.
The latest reminder involved Odell Beckham Jr., via two national reports Sunday and one local second opinion from…Dr. Mayfield, I presume?
On a day when Beckham was in the news for allegedly telling opposing players and coaches he wants out of Cleveland, that report didn’t even carry the day.
'COME GET ME OUT OF HERE': Odell Beckham Jr. reportedly told players he wants out of Cleveland
(He also didn’t deny it. But more on that later.)
Responding to an NFL Network report about Beckham playing with a sports hernia and possibly needing offseason surgery, the Browns' second-year quarterback said the injury wasn’t handled correctly and should’ve been dealt with at the beginning of the season.
“He is not able to run as well as he should be able to, as well as he knows,” Mayfield said. “That is frustrating for him…It was not handled the right way in our training room.”
And we’re off.
Not too long after, Mayfield used social media to clarify his comments and to say they weren’t meant to criticize the Browns medical staff.
That’s how these Browns do it, sometimes accidentally. They talk about the drama and noise outside (as Mayfield mentioned again earlier Sunday), but then they bring their own amplifier to the stage. And the dial goes to “11.”
With Beckham, of course, the dial is always set high to start.
Asked about Jay Glazer’s Fox report that Beckham is already shopping for his next team, the Browns wide receiver didn’t deny.
”I’m not going to talk about any offseason stuff that's going on right now," Beckham said after the Browns 27-19 win over the Bengals. "The focus is on winning, 1-0. And that's what we did today. Any other questions about it, I'm not answering."
The Browns did win, 27-19, over the 1-11 Bengals. But Sunday’s satisfaction quotient regarding the victorious home team falls somewhere between middling and meh.
After the events of the day, the only consensus was that beating the awful Bengals was definitely better than losing to the awful Bengals.
Disappointing. Troubling. Frustrating; that was just the report that Beckham would rather be somewhere else.
If you are tracing the Browns' arc since the firing of Hue Jackson last season, in less than a year we’ve moved from Gregg Williams' “come get some” now to Beckham’s “come get me out of here.”
“The drama is just drama,” Mayfield said while fielding a Beckham question. “It continues to be that on the outside. Within our walls, we know exactly what we have.”
I assume he meant winning focus. And while the Browns have won four of five, I’d say somewhat.
Sometimes. Not enough focus.
Maybe focused sufficiently to beat a Bengals team that ran 20 more plays than the Browns and had enough of the head-scratching variety to almost make you forget the strange first half called by head coach Freddie Kitchens.
But calling the Browns focused is like calling the impeachment hearings “a cooperative effort.”
Beckham said during the week there was no place he’d rather be at the moment but allowed that he couldn’t predict the future and “whether I'm going to be here, want to be here, don't want to be here.”
He had a chance to shelve the entire line of questioning. But that didn’t happen. His answer managed to put very little conjecture to rest, obviously.
Glazer has built a credible reputation as a reporter with solid sources among the rank and file, so the conversation probably isn’t going to go away from here.
Three games remain. This should be the plan:
- Once and for all, stop adding to the distractions.
- Once the Browns playoff hopes are mathematically pronounced dead, they should give Beckham a head start on that surgery.
The offense they ran last year without him looked better than the one they’ve run with him this season. That's not all on him. Maybe the injury is part of it.
But removing the pressure of trying to get him the ball might benefit Mayfield as well as Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. That kind of information could come in handy when the Browns start picking through the shrapnel of this season and deciding what kind of offense and team they want to be in 2020.
This Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t what the Browns need. Not if he’s hurt and can’t be himself.
And more importantly in the bigger picture beyond this season, not if he’s unhappy.
JIMMY'S TAKE: Browns' latest win 'was tough, but let's not be picky'