CLEVELAND -- Three interceptions in a half can rattle even the most experienced of quarterbacks in the National Football League, but what Cleveland Browns rookie signal-caller Baker Mayfield lacks in games played, he makes up for in moxie.
Mayfield shook off three first-half interceptions to move the ball down the field on three scoring drives in last Sunday’s 29-13 loss to the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium, and that performance after halftime erased any cause for concern about the rookie quarterback.
“At this level, at this time of his life, if there has to be a super message, it is the wrong guy, and that is not (the case),” Browns interim coach Gregg Williams said. “It never was on the sideline with him. With those mistakes, he accepts responsibility and gets onto the next play. I have been around those kinds of people, too, and not just at the quarterback position, but a lot of times at the cornerback position.
“You have to get onto the next play. Those are what really good players do, and he has that in him. He did that day, and (Wednesday), he brought a smile as he is getting everybody fired up out there on lots of different competition-type things, and so, no worries at all.”
During the first half, Mayfield completed just five of his 13 attempts for 46 yards with the three interceptions, but he rallied at halftime and had a strong finish to the game.
Mayfield finished the game 29 of 43 for 397 yards and one touchdown, a 17-yard scoring pass to wide receiver Rashard “Hollywood” Higgins late in the fourth quarter. In the second half, Mayfield completed 24 of his 30 throws for 351 yards and the one touchdown without a turnover.
“It is pretty impressive,” offensive lineman Joel Bitonio said. “I think he already bounced back in the second half. I think he improved a bunch from one half to the other, but his mentality, I think he forgot about it by halftime. He is going to be ready this week, and I think he is going to want to improve on his overall performance.”
Since taking over the starting job midway through Week 3, Mayfield has completed 224 of his 354 attempts (63.3 percent) for 2,639 yards and 18 touchdowns against 10 interceptions and posted a 91.1 quarterback rating, all while being sacked 22 times.
Additionally, Mayfield has registered 107 yards on 25 carries.
The offense has averaged 25.2 points per game since Mayfield took over as the first-team quarterback, while they managed just 19.5 per contest in the first two games of the season.
“His leadership, especially as a rookie coming in, it is so genuine,” center JC Tretter said earlier this week. “It is a genuine leadership of you want to be around him. People gravitate towards him. That is big because he has had to take a big step being a rookie in the locker room, as well as leading older veteran players.
“It is one of those things where if you push too hard and are deemed fake, then people are going to push back on you, but that is the thing, Baker is just such a natural leader, such a genuine, good person that is has made it really easy to have the older guys kind of gravitate towards him, work with him and be excited to play for him. That is really a testament to Baker as a leader to have that quality.”
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