The biggest lesson Baker Mayfield learned from his first NFL start?
"The most important thing," the Browns rookie quarterback said, "is taking care of the ball."
Mayfield zeroed in on that dynamic Wednesday following an overtime loss to the Raiders in which he accounted for four turnovers in an otherwise impressive performance. While coach Hue Jackson has made clear several of those miscues weren't entirely the youngster's fault — Cleveland struggled with dropped passes and miscommunications — Mayfield took the whole experience to heart.
After the game, he took ownership of those errors and apologized to the team's defense for putting them in bad field position throughout the afternoon. And as the Browns prepare for a bout with the Ravens this weekend, Mayfield is determined to do better.
"No matter if it's communication, decision-making, the most important thing is the football and making sure that we give our team the most opportunities to win, chances to score and putting ourselves into a good position," he said.
"That's the most important thing. After that, it's the little details. You can tell from the little things, we are very, very close to being a great team. That's it. We're not there yet so we have a lot of work to do."
The Browns, of course, believe Mayfield can help get them there. Named the team's starter after leading a comeback win over the Jets two weeks ago, the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft passed for 295 yards and two touchdowns last week in what was a historically productive day for the Cleveland's offense.
While Mayfield's turnovers — two interceptions, a strip sack and a botched QB-center exchange — were costly, Jackson said the 23-year-old had a response for every hiccup, unflappable in the face of adversity and a hostile crowd at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum.
"I am being very honest with you, I did not see any blink in Baker on any of those things. That is what was very pleasing to me. I get a chance to look in his eyes, and he did not flinch," he said earlier this week.
"That's what he did. In the end, we were right there. He put us in position again to have a chance to win that game. We just didn't do it."
Mayfield believes he won't let those errors happen again this weekend.
"We're very close. It just so happens that some of those little errors cost us, on my part," he said. "That is the positive outlook on it. Obviously, disappointing to lose, when we can fix a couple of things and come out with a win. It didn't turn out that way so we need to get that fixed."