Colin Cowherd again takes aim at Baker Mayfield
Colin Cowherd of Fox Sports Radio made a bold prediction on Thursday, claiming that the Cleveland Browns front office will make a decision on the future of Baker Mayfield on the next four games, which come against four teams with strong pass rushes: the Washingtonians, the Dallas Cowboys, the Indianapolis Colts and the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cowherd claims that Mayfield is terrible against teams that have a strong pass rush and he will be exposed.
Cowherd points out that general manager Andrew Berry and coach Kevin Stefanski are not necessarily committed to Mayfield since he was drafted by John Dorsey.
Truth to tell, Cowherd probably raises a good point, but it is actually rather obvious. In the NFL, everyone is constantly evaluated. If almost any NFL quarterback turns in four lousy games in a row — except for maybe a first or second-year quarterback who was a high first-round draft pick — and the team is 1-5 or worse, then, yeah, 90 percent of the time there is going to be a change made.
But Mayfield is very unlikely to have four lousy games in a row. He will probably have four good games, almost for sure two or three good games, and the Browns will be somewhere between 3-3 and 5-1. So Cowherd will be able to say, “See, I told you so! The Browns have decided to keep Mayfield as the starting quarterback based on those four games.”
There’s very very little chance that Cowherd’s prediction will be put to the test, so he has a great chance to look like a genius for this prediction. Based on random probability, the chances of J. Random Team losing four games in a row is only 1 out of 16. Anything can happen, but this fan does not believe Mayfield is going to be at the bottom of the quarterback standings by Halloween, and the Browns are going to win some games.
Anyway, it is an obvious prediction because any NFL quarterback who loses four games in a row and plays very poorly over a four-game stretch usually gets demoted in the NFL. This is a tough business. Just look at the rest of the quarterback class of 2018. Josh Rosen, a contemporary of Mayfield’s, went 0-3 last year for the Fish of Miami, and he was done. Ryan Fitzpatrick went in for Rosen and went 5-8.
Sam Darnold is trying to not get run out of town after going only 7-6 for the powerhouse New York Jets. Gee, that seems rather good considering how dysfunctional that team is. Josh Allen gets grudging approval for going 10-6 for Buffalo, a city which figures it should be in the playoffs every year. Then there is Lamar Jackson, who was the league MVP and went 13-2 as a starter last season, but at age 23 fans are upset that he “can’t win in the playoffs.” It’s a tough business. Surviving a really bad four-game stretch is not impossible, but it is unlikely for the majority of quarterbacks.
So I can go one better than Cowherd. If any NFL quarterback, other than a first or second-year player who is a high first-round draft pick, has a disastrous four-game stretch and the team is 1-5 or worse, that quarterback will be benched or traded by next season. That’s a rather safe prediction.
Another great thing about Cowherd’s prediction is that it’s impossible to prove or disprove, because it’s going to be kept secret, and we have to depend upon Cowherd’s mind-reading ability to know whether it will come true. It sounds like a bold prediction but it is not.
Anyway, it’s bogus, because there is no real option to acquire a quarterback in Week 6 of the NFL season unless there is going to be a fire sale for the services of Kirk Cousins or some similar deal. Or they can always sign Colin Kaepernick, though that may not be the best idea, either. Free agency and the draft does not happen till the spring. The whole thing is bogus.
Cowherd loves to criticize Mayfield. This writer is totally okay with Cowherd’s unfair and shortsighted criticism because Mayfield plays better when he is mad. But it is also important for the Cleveland media to have the kid’s back. If the national media wants to bad mouth our kid, we are going to hit back.
There is no reason to give up on the first string quarterback. Case Keenum is a good quarterback, but at 6’1 and 215 lbs and age 32, does that solve the concerns about Mayfield’s lack of size? It may be that the expectations are off if fans want him to run a dome-team, run-and-shoot offense with passing on almost every down. This is not a run and shoot team. This team has Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt and it also has talented tight ends and a tough offensive line.
Don’t boycott The Herd, however. It’s much better if sports fans stay informed about what Cowherd has to say, agree, or disagree. By the way, give him credit for improving his delivery over the years. He’s much less repetitive and more entertaining than he used to be when he worked at the other network. You don’t have to agree with the guy in order to enjoy his show, in fact, if you like talking sports it is much more fun if you disagree with him. But also do give us at Dawg Pound Daily a read when we hit back and express our counterpoint.
I believe I’m speaking for the majority of our writers by saying that we are not going to let him criticize Cleveland players unless they truly deserve it, and in Mayfield’s case, the prevailing view here is that Mayfield can be a good quarterback when he is not coached by Hue Jackson or Freddie Kitchens. However, we can agree that if you do enough bad things to him, the team can go 6-10 (KItchens) or 1-3 (Jackson).
Mayfield has had two games with Kevin Stefanski and Alex Van Pelt and that is not nearly enough time to make any kind of judgment as to how good he is in the post-Freddie era. A reasonable analyst should expect some rough patches for teams with new coaches who are installing new offenses. Nobody needs to go nuts if he throws a few interceptions over the next few games. We do expect to see progress as the season progresses, however.
We can also agree with Cowherd that the Browns were not at the level of the Ravens in game one, and in fact, the Browns and Mayfield showed some bad habits from the 2019 season against Baltimore. Many observers, including Dan Patrick of Fox Sports, questioned why the Browns seemed to give up on the running game when it was working and instead became overly dependent on Odell Beckham, Jr. when that was not working well.
Mayfield targeted OBJ 10 times and completed only three passes to him. Was that the coaching staff’s idea, or was Mayfield calling audibles? In any case, it felt like Freddie Kitchens was in the booth assisting with play calls. It was not a good feeling.
On the other hand, the Ravens make a lot of teams look bad, not just the Browns. Let’s check-in at the end of the season and see how the rest of the NFL does against them. Last year, they were 2-14 (and Mayfield and the Browns handed them one of those two losses).
We will find out more as the season progresses. However, Cowherd’s prediction could be restated as follows: quarterbacks are always evaluated by their team’s front office. They have to perform in order to survive. That’s not really news. But he has succeeded in making it sound like some kind of Cleveland crisis is coming in four games. That’s very unlikely to be true. There’s no reason to cast anything in stone at that time.
So, this Dawg Pound Daily writer predicts that the brass at Fox Sports will decide Colin Cowherd’s future at their network at the end of the next four weeks. It will go something like this: “Well, you’ve done a great job, Colin and we’re continuing your show, even though those guys at Dawg Pound Daily pretty much sliced you to ribbons last month. But ratings are through the roof, especially in Cleveland, and all of our sponsors are buying more commercial time. Keep up the good work.”