Baker Mayfield didn't want to sugarcoat anything Sunday when he stood at the postgame interview podium to discuss one of his worst starts in the last year.
Mayfield's performance, by his own standards, in the Browns' 14-7 win over the Vikings wasn't good enough. His 155 passing yards were his lowest since Week 9 of last season. His quarterback rating was a 59.5, marking just the sixth time in his four-year career that it sunk below 60. His game was plagued by missed opportunities and three sacks — one on fourth down and another on a third down.
Even though his first interview question was about the defense, which dominated the Vikings and was the biggest reason why the Browns left Minneapolis with their third win, Mayfield let everyone know right away how he felt about his game.
"(They were) good enough for us to win when I'm playing quarterback like that," Mayfield said. "Thankfully they played like that … There's a lot of easy throws there that I think I missed."
Mayfield's 15 completions were his lowest since Week 10 of last season, when he completed just 12 passes against the Eagles in a game where the passing department was mired by wind and rain.
But there were no such weather impediments inside the dome of U.S. Bank Stadium in Minnesota, where coach Kevin Stefanski spent 14 years handling a variety of offensive duties before he became the head coach in Cleveland. He helped Mayfield discover a new gear over their first 21 games together, but the duo didn't reach that level in their 22nd.
Stefanski took accountability for the performance, too.
"No, I'd have to look at it," he said at first when asked if he could pinpoint the reasoning behind Mayfield's missed throws.
"'I struggled a bit' would be the answer. I've got to do a better job of getting guys open."
Even when receivers appeared to be open, Mayfield struggled to hit them.
He attempted to connect with WR Odell Beckham Jr. for a deep pass four times. He also couldn't get on the same page with Anthony Schwartz on another deep attempt.
Mayfield's greatest connection was with Rashard Higgins, who has proven to be his go-to receiving target when he needs a lift. Higgins led the Browns with 64 receiving yards on four catches and seven targets. No other Browns receiver accounted for more than 20 yards.
"I need to do a good job of taking advantage of my opportunities and staying on track," Mayfield said. "I pride myself on being extremely accurate. And today, I don't know what the hell that was."
Mayfield showed no interest in talking about whether his left shoulder, which was briefly dislocated two games ago but didn't force him to miss a snap, impeded his throwing ability. He appeared on the injury report as a full participant throughout Week 3 and wasn't on the injury report at all in Week 4.
"It's my left shoulder," he said. "I throw with my right."
Mayfield said he knows the problems that arose Sunday come down to himself and making the most of Stefanski's play calls. He and Stefanski established a standard over their first year together that helped Mayfield build one of his best seasons ever in 2020 and enter 2021 with a chance to top it. His Week 4 performance wasn't up to that standard.
This showing, however, will be a bit easier to brush away and improve from. The Browns still found a way to win and are in a three-way tie atop the AFC North, and it's worth a reminder that the best teams win games when their quarterback isn't on point.
Mayfield wasn't, and he and the Browns both know better performances are ahead.
"I've got to do better. It's just flat out simple," he said. "There's not much else I can say."