CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield had a public dispute with former NFL coach and current ESPN NFL analyst Rex Ryan early in the 2019 regular season, and on Friday, they went from talking through the media to directly, face-to-face.
Mayfield appeared on ESPN’s morning show, “Get Up,” on Friday, and Ryan was one of the analysts there to interview the Browns quarterback. The two had a very real and honest discussion about their issues, including Ryan’s comment that Mayfield was “overrated as hell” and the subsequent response from the quarterback.
They even shared a handshake on air, as well as a hug behind the scenes.
“Let’s just be honest, I put my foot in my mouth a lot this past year,” Mayfield said. “I’m going to internalize that, and I think that’s the way I need to handle it.
“Rest In Peace, Kobe, but that’s the way he did it. He motivated himself. He didn’t talk a lot. He talked to his teammates, drove them to be better people, better men, and that’s the way I need to handle it. I don’t need to respond to the things that don’t matter, the things that don’t help us win.”
Mayfield saw a significant drop in production during his second professional season, with his completion percentage and touchdowns going down and the interceptions increasing by seven as he became the franchise’s first quarterback in 18 years to start all 16 games.
Mayfield completed 317 of his 534 attempts (59.4 percent) for 3,827 yards and 22 touchdowns against 21 interceptions in 2019 after completing 310 of his 486 throws (63.8 percent) with an NFL rookie-record 27 touchdowns against 14 picks during the 2018 season.
“It comes down to me doing my job,” Mayfield said. “I’ve never turned the ball over so many times. That might’ve been the most combined over my whole career. You can’t win like that. That falls back on me. I’ll take all the blame for that.
“It comes back to communication, just being on the same page, doing my job the best I can, not worrying about the outside stuff, not replying to you…just doing my job and doing what really matters being a quarterback.”
Mayfield is looking forward to working with new coach, Kevin Stefanski, and his staff when the offseason program gets underway in early April and building the kind of foundation they did not have to sustain the difficult times during the 2019 season.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, Mayfield wants to get as much work done correctly as possible during the offseason program, where the Browns will have two additional weeks of work because they hired a new head coach, so that when the full team is back for training camp in late July, they waste no time in improving their skills.
“I’ve always had a chip on my shoulder, always played with an edge, but didn’t come around to people noticing it until the cameras were all around, until it was a big deal where I was getting the spotlight and people made a big deal of that,” Mayfield said.
“I just have to be me, I have to continue to do that, but I don’t need to reply to the stuff on the outside. I can still keep that there. I can still keep both boulders right there and let’s go. I need to internalize that and motivate everyone else around me.”