Baker Mayfield can be his own worst enemy
Although Kevin Stefanski kept putting Baker Mayfield back into the game, it was Mayfield who kept asking to go back in. Mayfield has to be one of the toughest players in the NFL.
Baker’s toughness as a player is unquestioned. He plays injured. He is the Browns version of the 1988 Los Angeles Dodgers Kirk Gibson hobbling up to the plate only to hit the World Series changing home run sparking his team to defeat the Goliath of the day.
This kind of toughness is unparalleled in football or in any sport. Baker, without any doubt, is that tough.
But that home run was Kirk Gibson’s only at bat in the World Series. Mayfield can learn a lesson from Gibson. Yes, Gibson wanted to play. He wanted to be out there with his teammates.
But he knew he was too injured to play. He knew that his being out there would only hurt the team in the long run. His best contribution was a pinch hitter bringing a spark to a team that stood no chance against the Bash Brothers.
Baker wants to play. Baker works hard to play. But Baker has to understand he is too injured to help his team right now. If he cannot throw the ball accurately, he is only hurting his team in the long run. If he cannot run roll outs or bootlegs then he is limiting the offensive passing and running game.
Mayfield needs to swallow some pride and swallow some of his natural inborn fighter and help the team by getting healthy. He needs to be the cheerleader this week so he can lead them to victory the next.
This is where Baker can grow as a player. As a professional football player, he needs to think about his body. It is a long season, the team needs a healthy Baker. No rational person would have questioned Baker’s toughness had he sat out this game.
In fact, just the opposite is happening. By playing, he’s opening himself to questions about his ability to put his team before himself. He is being lambasted by the media for refusing to talk after the game. These questions are unfair. Baker has always put the team first. But he may need to rethink if playing through injuries is really what is best for the team.
Mayfield is the ultimate gambler. He will throw balls into windows that only he can. He will take chances. He will go for it all, even when he is bluffing (or injured). This is what makes him great. This is what fans love about him. But also Mayfield has to “know when to hold ’em. Know when to fold ’em. Know when to walk away. Know when to run.”
As the quarterback, Baker wants to win every game. As the head coach, Kevin Stefanski failed to see past this one game to set his team up for the long term.