Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Mayfield, Brown can make up for lost season in home stretch NWN News

CLEVELAND (NWN) — Baker Mayfield’s chance to change the narrative — of him, of Brown and of his future — is staring him in the face.

He’s got five games to show that he’s either a franchise quarterback or another Cleveland miss.

Going through several injuries for weeks, Mayfield spent the bye week recovering and preparing himself for a dastardly December stretch of crucial games that would define this season for the Browns (6-6) – and maybe it will. Determine where he plays the rest of his NFL livelihood.

The quarterback, who has long started playing like a corner cat, is against it.

They are under delivery pressure after not doing so yet in 2021.

“We’ve seen Baker play great football here,” said general manager Andrew Berry during Cleveland’s late and much-anticipated break. “We have seen Baker play good football this season. I know he’s excited and we look forward to the opportunity that lies ahead of us. We expect him to play his best football in the next five weeks.

He’ll have to do it.

What was thought to be a season in which Mayfield and the Browns took another step toward a Super Bowl title after making the playoffs and winning the postseason game a year earlier, has been a step back and disbanded in desperation.

Cleveland couldn’t afford or risk another loss in the tournament. And, it’s a rough road with games against Baltimore (8-3), Las Vegas (6-5), Green Bay (9-3), Pittsburgh (5-5-1) and Cincinnati (7-4). – All playoff contenders.

In fact, Brown would need at least four wins for a shot.

With a focus on winning, Berry said the period would reveal much more than Cleveland’s win-loss record.

“The next five games actually give us a really valuable opportunity,” Berry said this week. “Often people talk about adversity or challenges when it’s convenient, but the reality is that it’s really important to us as a team and an organization because No. 1, you learn a lot about people.” Be it on the field, publicly or privately.

“But at the same time, adversity is universally important for development.”

Mayfield has faced his share of hardship in 2021.

A torn labrum in his shoulder while doing a tackle in Week 2 worsened when he fractured his humerus bone in Week 6. Mayfield is also playing with a bumped knee and bruised heel, limiting his mobility and making plays. his leg.

However, the injuries did not excuse the time he missed the open receiver or failed to mount the return drive. He leads 1–5 against teams with a winning record, going 0–4 to lead a winning drive.

Most recently, Mayfield could do nothing at the end of Sunday’s 16-10 loss to the Ravens. He could not take down the last possession first as the Browns delivered a game in which he stopped Lamar Jackson four times.

Mayfield’s figures do not reflect progress in her fourth year. He is ranked 26th in the QBR and has thrown only 11 TD passes, making him 24th in the league.

Cleveland’s passing attack, so explosive and unexpected last year, has been a crapshoot. Sure, there are dire situations, but most of the blame falls on Mayfield, who triggers every play.

Creating drama and raising the level of your peers is part of the job description of a franchise QB.

Berry quickly pointed out that there was more going on besides Mayfield. It’s all about play calls, protection, receivers running the right route, not dropping balls, that’s all.

“We haven’t been consistent enough in the passing game,” Berry said. “I want to be clear here. It’s not necessarily a problem of one player or one person.”

True, but Brown’s most important person is Mayfield.

The 26-year-old once seemed confident of getting a long-term extension from Cleveland, but it seems uncertain as to the team’s playoff chances. Brown exercised his $18.9 million fifth-year option for 2022.

Berry would not draw a straight line between Mayfield’s uncertain game and a future pay day.

“There are a lot of players in the league who are in similar boats, whether they are free agents or expandables,” he said. “It comes with territory in terms of being a professional athlete, but I know this: Baker is both physically and mentally resilient, and he is highly focused on winning and controlling the game of offense going forward.”

Whether the Browns go ahead with Mayfield as their starter ends this season may hinge on it.

Berry insists that Mayfield doesn’t need to prove anything to him next month, but it certainly feels like that.

“I don’t know if it’s that much about showing me something,” Berry said. “Indeed, our focus is on winning games and playing at a high level which allows us to be in a strong position in December.

“Baker has shown a lot over the past three-plus seasons, so I don’t subscribe to the notion that these next five games are something that’s particularly focused, so to speak.”


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