3 Panthers to watch against the Browns in Week 1
1. Baker Mayfield – Quarterback
The scene set for Sunday is one that Hollywood could’ve drawn up, but this time it was the NFL. And no, this was not set up by the NFL, as that wouldn’t go with the narrative that the entire league hates the Browns.
Instead, we get Cleveland taking on their former No. 1 overall pick in Baker Mayfield. The team traded him to the team that landed first on the schedule. That is awesome for the fans of both the Browns and Mayfield. Twitter will handle this rational and friendly, right? Right? No.
If you have the app with feathers, then you already know how this will play out all week until next Monday. In one corner will be the Browns faithful who want the defense, specifically Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney to disrupt Mayfield as much as they possibly can. In the other corner will be the Baker Bros, who want Baker to win the game in spite of being Browns fans. Make that make sense and then explain it to me like I’m five years old.
Mayfield will get a fresh start after spending his first four professional seasons with Cleveland. The divorce was messy and we all know the details of that. As aforementioned, battle lines were drawn with the subtraction of Baker and the addition of Deshaun Watson. At this point, there is no need to get into all of that.
Back to the starting quarterback for the Panthers. He always has a lot of bark but doesn’t always have the bite to back it up. He shined in spurts for the Browns but was never to fully put it all together. Some will claim he changed the culture in Cleveland. Really? He helped lead the team to one winning season in the four years he played there. That doesn’t seem like much has changed, right?
If we have learned anything about Mayfield, it’s that he has thrived off controversy and being the underdog. Can’t be an underdog when you got drafted first overall and have been in the league for four seasons. That’s not how it works.
One thing Baker has going for him, for better or worse, is his confidence. Last week, he said, and then walked back, that he was going to “f*** them up” when asked what he would do to the Browns in Week 1. Myles Garrett said the defense will use that. As they should.
Another thing is the fact that we all know Baker will want to press and get the ball downfield in a hurry in order to beat his former team. That could spell disaster for him as the Browns have a potent secondary that knows his tendencies. It could be a long game for 6.
After this game is over, we can finally put the Baker Mayfield saga in our rearview mirrors and move on with it all. Should be an interesting game. Let’s ride.