Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield answered a number of questions about himself, his own progress and development as he enters the third season of his career on a conference call Wednesday. Mayfield refused to take any opportunity to make excuses for himself and simply said he needs to play better, that if he does that, and the team wins, everything will take care of itself.
Mayfield was asked about the challenge of learning a new offense, his third in as many NFL seasons, especially under the circumstances presented by COVID-19.
“It is what it is. Coming out of the draft, I always thought I was able to adapt to whatever system I was going to be in. To be a smart player is something I pride myself on. It could be an excuse if I wanted it to be, but there is nothing wrong with getting knowledge from different guys that have coached and been around great players, if you can pick up something from all these different systems and put it all together. I know I have not had the success that I truly want to accomplish down the road, but if I can combine all this and play within the system that I am in now, that is when the good things happen. You can relate and you can react because you have seen certain looks before and you have seen reads before. It is the combination of knowledge. That is why having guys like Alex Van Pelt and Stefanski that have had so much success; then you bring in Case Keenum, who has played in that system so you can relate to those reads; and then also having a guy like (QB) Garrett (Gilbert) in our room, as well, that I can just bounce things off of, it is going really well right now. I am happy about it. It is not an excuse so that is not what it is going to be.”
Mayfield refused to use it as an excuse, put the onus on himself to know it, to master it, to execute it. Given the fact he learned a new offense his rookie year and played really well, he's already proven he can do that.
Mayfield was asked why 2020 would be different and he immediately noted his media silence since the Super Bowl when he went on a few shows to take his proverbial medicine.
“I have a different approach to this year. I think everybody who has been interviewed on our team has hit the nail on the head over and over about it is time to work. It is time to do our thing, instead of talking about it. This is the first media thing I have done just because there is no need to be talking about it. It is just time to go do it. Right now, it is kind of moving in silence, which is fine with me. That is how I used to do it before getting on a bigger stage so I am happy to get back to those roots and like I said earlier, get back to the fundamentals to where I can accomplish the goals when the season comes around.”
It's important to note just how much slower this offseason is for Mayfield than last year. Last offseason, Mayfield got married, shot national ad campaigns and took some time to enjoy his success. None of that is an excuse for his performance last year, but contrasted against this offseason where he can't do much of anything other than ruminate on what didn't go right last year and work to improve.
Mayfield also mentioned that this was the way he operated much of his career, which is true. Most people had no idea who Baker Mayfield was entering his senior year, despite playing at Oklahoma. That's part of why it was so easy to try to paint him as being Johnny Manziel 2.0. Beyond having the arrest, being short and being super successful in college, most people knew little about him, because he was largely, as he put it, moving in silence.
Mayfield was asked about year three and everything that goes into it.
“For me, it goes back to the mindset that I am comfortable and living in and that work-ethic mentality. I think that fits it. There is no doubt Year 3 is always a big year in these contracts. Timing wise, everybody knows that. I am not going to put any added pressure on myself. There is no need for that because if I win, good things will happen and good things will happen for our team and the guys around me. That is the most important part. That is why quarterback is one of the positions that is the hardest in sports. If I play better, our team is going to do better. I put that pressure on myself. It does not matter what year it is. I have to play better each year.”
Later, he was asked if it was unfair to critique him as harshly in year three given the fact he's already on his third head coach.
“No, it is not an excuse for me. I said and I always have, the best quality about a quarterback is raising the productivity and the level of the guys around him. It does not matter what is going on. If I do my job, try to do that and accomplish that, then I am I am playing quarterback at a high level. Yeah, you are in Year 3, but the goal every year is to make it to the Super Bowl. If you do not set that goal, then you are playing for the wrong reasons and you are not playing to win. It is what it is. Like I said, it is not an excuse.”
In both cases, he refuses to make excuses and puts the pressure on himself, making it pretty simple. If he plays better, the team does better, they win more and everything takes care of itself.
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