The Browns have attracted a ton of national (and international) attention this offseason, and the national media visits have followed suit during this camp.
Nearly every day in Berea, someone from a national outlet is taking in the action on the field. And most of them come away with the same observation: The ball just looks *different* when it comes out of Baker Mayfield's hand.
Mayfield's combination of a strong arm and incredibly quick release is what helped him become a Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma and the No. 1 overall pick. It also allows him to do things on a field that other quarterbacks simply can't do.
"When Baker goes out, playing within himself is the whole field, essentially," Browns quarterbacks coach Ryan Lindley said Saturday. "It allows those guys and the receivers and different things, when we break things down, there's nothing that's really off the board."
Check out photos from the twelfth day of Browns Camp by team photographer Matt Starkey
There's a lot more to it than that, of course, but without that combination, Mayfield likely wouldn't be where he is today. And where he is today is a rare opportunity to make history for a franchise and fanbase that is need of it more than almost any other.
That begins with learning the offense and reigning in talent that Lindley said Saturday is just playing fast, so fast that Canadian Football League coaches who have visited camp have raved to him about the team's overall explosiveness. The goal is not to keep them under control, but to develop an understanding in order to maximize their ability. That leads us back to a key reason why Browns general manager John Dorsey surprised draft analysts everywhere when he selected Mayfield with the first pick of the 2018 draft: He has the personality to do exactly that.
"He took control," Lindley said of Mayfield's approach to the team's new offensive system. "He wanted to get a hold of stuff, wondering how we're going to teach the guys, if anything's changing and it was good. He's gonna be a coach out there and I think that's something that really everyone in our room I'm pleased with."
Receivers coach Adam Henry mentioned earlier in the week how Mayfield will journey over to the wide receivers room to go over concepts and communicate with his targets during meeting time. The results have shown on the practice field, especially in up-tempo periods in which it seems as though all 11 players are on the same wavelength. That goes back to the collaborative off-field efforts, Lindley said.
"If there's something that we teach and we all get on the same page and they have kind of a spin off that they want to do, then we should collaborate and do that," Lindley explained.
Wide receiver Jaelen Strong, a former third-round pick who's battling for a spot on the 53-man roster, is benefitting from Mayfield's cerebral ability.
"I like Baker a lot because he has great communication," Strong said during an appearance on Best Podcast Available. "If he doesn't like something, he tells you, and when he really likes something, he tells you. ... That's big for us. It makes our job easier. They already have a whole lot of stuff that they have to do, and for them to take the time out and get with us and communicate the little details with us helps us a lot as well."
Next comes the repetitions, both mentally and physically. Mayfield pours his soul into every rep, shouting at teammates and practice officials alike, in part because of where he's from, Lindley said.
"California, we're a little bit more laid back there and obviously Texas, everything's bigger, faster and harder. Baker's a guy that he goes hard in everything he does," Lindley explained. ... "Baker just kind of lives his life that way. He's as authentic as they come."
Fans saw the result of the offseason work in a blur of an offensive possession that the unit hoped would clock in under 2 minutes (it finished at 2:13), and ended with -- what else? -- a touchdown pass fired by Mayfield down the seam and over the outstretched hand of a defender to Rashard Higgins.
That's what brings us all the way back around to Mayfield's arm strength, which opens up chances to make plays that only a select handful are capable of making. That's the value of a playmaking, franchise quarterback. His mix of athletic ability, relentless pursuit of excellence and magnetic personality makes him the ideal choice for the position. Oh, and that improvisational aspect that makes him so good on Sundays.
"I've joked before, he's like a mustang," Lindley said. "You don't want to reign him in because a lot of that stuff is what makes plays on Sundays for him. He's one of the best I've seen in that regard."
Mayfield will continue to run free as we gallop toward the start of the 2019 season. Saddle up.