They say if you are feeling emotional or indecisive, “sleep on it.”
So I did.
After watching NFL games on Thursday, Sunday, and Monday, I slept on it, and this one thing is on my mind.
I’ve been holding off on this topic, because I wanted to wait until we saw the Browns face both the Los Angeles Chargers and the New England Patriots, teams with younger quarterbacks that we can use to size up Baker.
Justin Herbert and Mac Jones. Mayfield is now 0-2 against them and they both outperformed him in those matchups. The Browns picked up Mayfield’s 5th-year option in April and we have now seen him in 54 starts (and 58,392,949,004 commercial appearances), yet I still find myself wondering if he deserves the extension. I know I’m not the only one, either.
How are we still here? In life, you either know or you don’t. Usually if you have to ask, it’s probably not right. Look around the league. We saw one throw from the Chargers’ Herbert and we knew he had it. Same goes for the Bengals’ Joe Burrow, the Bills’ Josh Allen, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, and the Cardinals’ Kyler Murray. It’s the gray-area quarterbacks who are the tough ones to figure out. It’s just like being in a relationship. When you are in love and happy, it’s clear. Black. When the person doesn’t make any effort and cheats on you, it’s clear. White. But the mix, the gray area -- that’s the hard space. You’ve seen the good, and you want to believe that’s who the person is, but the blemishes are all over the place and pop up. What happens is you usually are left slow burning the relationship. Wasting years figuring out what you already knew, which is that it’s not right.
This week on “Get Up,” Rex Ryan, after seeing Mayfield and the Browns get absolutely hammered by the Patriots, had a strong stat I believe really tells the story of Baker’s success and failure. Ryan shared this: “The Browns were outrushed by 50 yards against the Patriots. That’s happened 14 times and Baker is 0-14 in those games.”
Mayfield simply doesn’t win when his team gets outgained. If Mayfield isn’t equipped with a strong run game and defense, he struggles finding success. This current team has two All-Pro backs, three All-Pro offensive lineman, two excellent tight ends, the No. 1 pass-rush unit in the league, and the 2020 NFL Coach of the Year. This is a quarterback’s dream, yet his current passer rating is below Denver’s Teddy Bridgewater and Detroit's Jared Goff. Not better than those guys...worse.
The great quarterbacks lift others. They make everyone around them better. If Mayfield can’t make it work with this group, a team that probably will never have a roster this talented in the next few years, then he’s not the future. What makes this hard is you can win with Baker, but everything around him just needs to be excellent. He IS a tough quarterback with moxie. An incredibly talented actor, with an incredibly competitive spirit.
However, Cleveland, deep down you know.
You always know. Just pull the plug.