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Burning Questions

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11 questions for QB Baker Mayfield, who's ready to end the season on a positive note and begin a productive offseason

Baker Mayfield knows that the Browns didn't meet their high expectations for this season.

Cleveland won't make an appearance in the playoffs, but Mayfield is ready to begin what he expects to be a busy, productive offseason after the Browns wrap up their season in Cincinnati. caught up with Mayfield to evaluate the season and discuss what lies ahead for him and the Browns. What's the story of the season from your perspective?

Mayfield: A lot of ups and downs, some frustrations. We set the bar high for ourselves and didn't meet that. Right now, it's about finishing the right way against the Bengals and taking care of business. A win would sweep the Bengals for the second season in a row, the first time that's happened in 20 years, and bring the Browns' divisional record to 4-2. How big is that to build on?

Mayfield: That's definitely a positive, looking back on where this place has been. I addressed that earlier this week: What can we do now? Expectations are high for us, and we have to meet those expectations. 4-2 isn't good enough if we don't win the division. That's the nature of this game. Even if you have a record like that, it doesn't mean you're winning everything. We have to take care of business. Is the final game something you can build momentum off of for the offseason?

Mayfield: Yeah. I think it's definitely something that, if you carry it the right way, you know, no stats or anything carries into the next year. That mindset and mentality of winning games in this division means a lot going forward. It's being professional and knowing this game does nothing for us besides a win or loss in our record. We need to win it.

Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Bengals Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey No Browns quarterback has started all 16 games since 2001. You did that this season. When you look back, what are you the proudest of from your standpoint this season?

Mayfield: Mental growth in the game and understanding protections, schemes and helping install things that we need to be better at. The execution is a whole other story, but the mental aspect of the game. It's all smiles and whatnot for starting 16 games — that's the goal every year — but I want to win a lot more than just seven. What other things will you look back on and want to improve?

Mayfield: Taking care of the ball. That's something I've always prided myself on. Obviously, I've had some unfortunate bounces here and there, but just not putting it in harm's way and giving us the best opportunity to win. That's a big part of being a quarterback. A big part of that is being in sync with teammates. We've heard what Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. have gone though this year with their injuries, too. How much are you looking forward to getting in work with teammates in the offseason for 2020?

Mayfield: I'm very much looking forward to that and seeing how those guys handle their injuries with recovering, and I'll get together with them and whoever else is with us and whoever we bring in through this process. We're starting really early so we can come here and start fast and have very high expectations, but really meet them. We got to talk about it, but also be about it. I'm excited about the offseason. Is that one of the humbling things about the NFL, how you can roll out Baker Mayfield, Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham Jr. and the league's leading rusher (Nick Chubb), yet it's still hard week-to-week because everyone is so good?

Mayfield: It's a week-to-week league for sure. Competition is so high no matter the record. You have to bring your "A" game every week. We got to play complementary football all around. There's been some games where the offense has struggled, the defense has struggled or we haven't played well on special teams. We got to play well on all three phases. That's what the great teams do, the ones who finish deep in the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. We have to be better. You guys have had some real nice halves on offense, but has that full 60 minutes been a little elusive this year?

Mayfield: Yeah, we haven't been able to put it together for a full game. I feel like the first one where we did do that was the first Ravens game, but after that, we haven't been as consistent. It shows. It's about putting it together and being consistent. This year, precision has been there at times, and sometimes it hasn't been there. Is that something you're going to focus on this offseason, getting back to that? And what do you think has maybe cost some of that?

Mayfield: It's definitely something that's very important for the quarterback position, just getting everyone on the same page and being at the right spot at the right time. Me, it's doing my job and having my footwork be on time and being precise in every step and every read that I take. Everything that everyone does on this offense has to be precise, or it won't work. You have to have all 11 guys at the right spot at the right time to execute. You've had adversity before, and this has been a tough season for you. What has this season taught you?

Mayfield: Roll with the punches. Never get too high, and never get too low. It's been a long year, but there's been a lot of life lessons and stuff to learn from of blocking out the outside and focusing on what you can control and really hone in on that. You can only control what you can, and that's the most important thing. If you worry about everything else, you're not worried about the right things. What's something you want to say to the fans about this year and what's coming for the Cleveland Browns?

Mayfield: I know it's been frustrating. It's frustrating for us, too. It's a process. You roll with it. To get this place to where it needs to be, it's going to have some growing pains. I appreciate everybody rolling through the punches with us. It's going to take time, and hopefully that time is next year.

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