Baker Mayfield and the brand new world of expectations in Cleveland

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Below the Monday evening lights, thousands and thousands of soccer followers witnessed Odell Beckham Jr.’s whole NFL profession on rewind throughout a Godforsaken sport between the New York Jets and Cleveland Browns. It went one thing like this:

A wide ranging one-handed catch, a me-first gear violation that harm his group, an damage that took him off the sector, an exciting landing scored at online game velocity and a pair of private scores settled with New York Giants common supervisor Dave Gettleman, who wasn’t within the constructing, and Jets defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who wished he wasn’t within the constructing.

That is your life, OBJ, whose star was born in 2014 together with his otherworldly catch in opposition to Dallas in the identical nook of the MetLife Stadium area the place he pulled in a Baker Mayfield throw with a single gloved hand. When Mayfield was advised Monday evening that his former coach, Williams, had questioned Beckham’s credibility as a dynamic participant by reminding reporters that the Giants had successfully fired him, he began rubbing his beard and shaking his head.

“He mentioned that?” the quarterback requested incredulously after the Browns 23-Three victory. “Jesus. Subsequent query. He is not a dynamic soccer participant? OK.”

Hey, there is a motive the offseason Beckham commerce tilted the Cleveland hype machine for a franchise that had skilled 11 consecutive shedding seasons, a streak that is subsequent to inconceivable in a league that does its damnedest to forestall groups from being dominant or dreadful for very lengthy. Mayfield, Beckham, Jarvis Landry — who’s stopping that? The Browns had been scheduled to get up the echoes of their storied previous, not less than till the Tennessee Titans uncovered them within the opener as large on persona and greater than somewhat quick on execution and grit.

The Week 2 Browns badly wanted the all the time accommodating Jets to present them a pick-me-up, and boy did the Jets ship. With Sam Darnold already out, and with Trevor Siemian pounded into submission by Myles Garrett, the Browns wanted solely to outlive Luke Falk. Mayfield accomplished 19-of-35 passes for 325 yards and a landing, however he mainly performed his C-plus sport.

“I believe I should be higher checking the ball down and getting completions,” the quarterback mentioned.

So the evening belonged to Beckham, who wrapped a bow across the expertise by taking a brief go within the seam and racing 89 yards to pay dust, and by positively glowing whereas mingling with acquainted faces throughout his postgame rounds.

It is clear Baker Mayfield has the instruments to be a star. However can he be a legend in Cleveland? AP Photograph/Adam Starvation

“When the lights come on … he’ll flip it on,” Mayfield mentioned. “He is a particular man who loves when the sport is performed.”

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In fact, the identical has been typically mentioned of Mayfield, the No. 1 total draft alternative and 2017 Heisman winner who nonetheless performs with the sting of a walk-on making an attempt to earn a full experience. Quickly misplaced within the Beckham-fest at MetLife was the truth that Mayfield has to play higher than he has these first two weeks if Cleveland is to make the most of Ben Roethlisberger’s season-ending damage and earn a playoff spot out of the AFC North for the primary time since 2002.

Ultimately, Mayfield — not Beckham or anybody else — would be the man who determines whether or not the Browns make their first Tremendous Bowl look or win their first NFL title since 1964. Mayfield would not simply play the game’s most vital place; he performs what has grow to be one thing of an ageless place. Theoretically, anyway, he will probably be main the Browns lengthy after Beckham is gone.

And that appears like a fairly good proposition to the final franchise participant who understands what a championship soccer season seems to be and seems like in one of many nation’s best soccer cities.

Jim Brown lives in Los Angeles, however he nonetheless attends some Browns video games and practices. The outdated working again will present up on the group facility when he’s in Canton for Corridor of Fame ceremonies, or when Browns legends are introduced in to talk to rookies, or when the franchise holds its annual alumni weekend. He’s 83, and nonetheless lightning fast with an opinion.

Requested if he sees this Cleveland regime profitable it everywhere in the subsequent three or 4 years, Brown mentioned, “Truly I do, and I do not thoughts saying so.”

As standard, Jim Brown is not afraid to say what’s on his thoughts. And he is not shy on the subject of Baker Mayfield. He sees a confidence within the QB that might result in a Tremendous Bowl. Scott R. Galvin-USA TODAY Sports activities

Regardless of Jimmy and Dee Haslam’s grim file of selecting coaches and executives since shopping for the franchise in 2012, Brown mentioned he believes within the homeowners and within the roster their newest decision-makers, GM John Dorsey and rookie head coach Freddie Kitchens, have pieced collectively. He mentioned the present mixture of administration acumen and participant expertise offers the Browns “a fantastic alternative for a championship.” He mentioned he’s “trying ahead to some fantastic years.”

These fantastic years, Brown believes, will probably be formed by Mayfield.

“He will be a famous person,” the Corridor of Famer advised by telephone earlier than the Browns made it to 1-1.

“He is the actual deal. He has the bodily expertise, however greater than the bodily expertise he has a fantastic perspective towards his place, towards his accountability. … He is the primary quarterback I’ve seen the Browns give you that I actually consider can actually do the job.”

The primary, not less than, since Frank Ryan, the quarterback who threw three landing passes to Gary Collins in Cleveland’s 27-Zero victory over the Baltimore Colts within the ’64 title sport (Brown rushed for 114 yards in that victory). In truth, Mayfield could be probably the most vital participant the Browns have put underneath heart since Otto Graham, who gained 4 titles within the outdated All-America Soccer Convention earlier than profitable three extra within the NFL.

Brown sees Mayfield’s blind perception in himself as one among his most respected property.

“I believe it’s very obligatory for a quarterback to have that,” Brown mentioned. “The explanation we’re speaking about it’s Baker has it, and he would not care about you or me or anyone it a sure manner.”

“It is an actual confidence, and he would not thoughts displaying it. However but it would not come off as a cocky younger man who hasn’t confirmed something. It solely took me a couple of minutes watching him to appreciate he has greatness in his future.”

Jim Brown on Baker Mayfield

In fact, Mayfield carries himself like he is aware of he is destined for superstardom. After Brown talked about that Beckham “had the audacity to return as much as me at some point at observe” with a number of teammates to welcome him, he was requested if Beckham’s quarterback had proven the identical sort of respect to the Browns’ all-time nice.

“Oh sure,” Brown mentioned, “that is why after I first introduced up his title, I laughed. I perceive somewhat bit about him. He offers his respect very casually, in a really informal method. You need to choose up on it. He is actually about enterprise and being a quarterback. He understands he has to focus on issues that even an outdated man like myself won’t notice. I will not be capable of affect him lots. I am certain I am going to discuss to him, and because the season goes on we’ll get nearer.

“I’d say he’s distinctive, as a result of he has that perspective about himself. He can throw the ball, and he is very particular as a result of the boldness he has will not be a faux confidence. It is an actual confidence, and he would not thoughts displaying it. However but it would not come off as a cocky younger man who hasn’t confirmed something. It solely took me a couple of minutes watching him to appreciate he has greatness in his future.”

These forecasts do nothing to lighten the load on Mayfield or his group. However so far as heightened expectations representing probably the most formidable opponent on Cleveland’s schedule, Brown is not shopping for.

“What’s humorous about expectations is, numerous time individuals say, ‘Do not have it,’ or they make a degree of being cool about it,” Brown mentioned. “However when you might have a sure sort of expertise and training workers and possession, you have to have expectations. I imply, why not? And proper now Cleveland has expectations and the followers have expectations and I’ve expectations, and I am not going to downplay that finish of it. I’ll play it up.”

Monday evening wasn’t a perfect time to play up the Browns’ championship possibilities, it doesn’t matter what the scoreboard mentioned. They beat an terrible group on the highway, then headed off to face group, the Rams, in one more nationwide TV evening sport for a franchise that hasn’t precisely led the league in prime-time publicity.

Between now and Sunday evening, the Browns want to seek out extra consistency on offense. In addition they want Mayfield to rediscover his A-game. He’s the group’s most consequential long-term participant, in any case, not Beckham. He’s the one most liable for sometime giving Cleveland on the sector what LeBron James gave it on the courtroom.

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