Is the pressure too much for the Cleveland Browns QB?
Baker Mayfield has suffered greatly this season. We all know that. You know what? It’s not an excuse. All that matters is wins and losses, and if you play badly in the NFL you are going to get booed by the fans. If you can’t handle it, you probably shouldn’t play.
Mayfield refused to meet with the media after the victory over Detroit, in which he played a less than stellar game. The Browns won, but it was not a good performance. By not meeting with the media, Mayfield signified that he was not able to cope with the pressure of his position.
It wasn’t a good look, and we just can’t put a good spin on it. Mayfield says he does not care what kind of message it sends to the media or the fans. Okay, Mr. Mayfield, as a member of both groups I will allow we are rather nincompoopish at times. But let me ask you this: what kind of message does it send to your teammates? They need to look up to you, and to see you act this way does not inspire confidence, not one little tiny bit.
This isn’t to say that Baker deserves to be booed. The vast majority of fans love the guy and will always be totally grateful for the time he rang up 48 points in Pittsburgh in a playoff game. That actually happened. Shame on those fans who either forgot it or believe that it had nothing to do with the quarterback. Come on, man!
Fan expectations are ridiculous. Just because a quarterback is picked first in the draft doesn’t mean he is going into the Hall of Fame. Think about it. If first picks last for, say, 12 years, that means there will be a dozen of them still in the league. How can they all be the top guy?
Hall of Fame quarterbacks aren’t available on demand every draft. If you wind up with someone in the top-10, that is very good, and that may be what the Browns have in Mayfield in terms of potential.
But just realistically, even if the Pope quarterbacks the team and plays badly, the fans are going to boo the Pope. That’s just the way it is, and it’s pointless to try to lecture the fans to not boo Mayfield.
No, if a quarterback thinks he is not going to get booed by the home team, he’s in the wrong profession. It happens. Peyton Manning got booed. So did Tom Brady. So did Kurt Warner. A lot.
Speaking of Warner, he put together some nice analysis which defends Baker Mayfield’s performance, and puts numbers geeks like your humble correspondent in our proper place. Well and good. The main takeaways are that Mayfield was better than we thought against Baltimore, but the rest of the team was worse than we thought.
However, in Warner’s career, was there ever a time when he was so upset he wouldn’t face the press? Especially after a win? I remember an interview when he was a St. Louis Ram and things were going badly, he was asked whether the criticism he was getting was fair, and he just smiled and said, “Oh, it’s always my fault. I’m the leader of the offense.”
That nonchalant acceptance of unfair blame has stuck with me over the years. It’s just the price that a man pays in order to be an NFL starting quarterback and leader of the offense.
The quarterback of an NFL team has to accept that it’s going to be his fault that there is global warming, unemployment, Covid-19 and supply chain issues with China. If he can’t handle talking to the media, that’s going to cause people to lose faith in that quarterback. If you cannot handle the fans and the media, how will you handle the Baltimore blitz?
If Mayfield is fighting with the media and the fans, that’s going to make it harder to sign and retain veteran free agents. Cleveland needs to sign a veteran receiver to replace OBJ and Jarvis Landry for next season. How can they do that if the quarterback situation is unsettled? The Browns are in danger of becoming more like the New York Jets and less like the New England Patriots.
Remember Jamie Collins? He has bounced back and forth between the Patriots and losing organizations, namely the Browns and Detroit. He has never gotten paid more the $2 million per year from the Patriots, and he is on his third gig with them.
With the Browns, he got paid $13.5 million per year and with the Lions he was paid $11 million per year. That’s what happens when the organization has a bad reputation. Danny Shelton also went from Cleveland to New England to Detroit and was paid only one third as much money by the Patriots compare to what the Browns and Lions paid him.
Is that where the Browns are headed? Will they once again become a dysfunctional franchise that has to pay three to five times as much money for veteran players, if they are willing to come to Cleveland at all?
Or is too much being made of the media brouhaha? Will Baker snap out of it and lead the Browns to a string of victories down the stretch? Your opinion is welcome in the comments section below.