Amid the ups and downs to the start of his second season, Baker Mayfield’s confidence hasn’t been shaken. Both he and his head coach confirmed as much Wednesday.
More importantly, Mayfield said his confidence in the players who surround him hasn’t taken a hit, either. It’s remained the same, if not higher -- even after the Browns went from trouncing the division rival Ravens one week to Monday night’s 31-3 loss to the 49ers.
“(It’s) who we have in this locker room,” Mayfield said. “I think it is along the lines with what I said a few weeks ago about sticking together, not really caring about anyone on the outside. I think that we have identified the problem and we are going to be able to go out there and do our best to eliminate our problems and those issues. That is the type of team we have and we are going to ride together.
“Our sense of urgency is at an all-time high right now. I think we have guys that are locked in. We realize exactly what we need to do. We are going to take this short week and see what we can do on Sunday.”
That kind of mindset is important, especially as the leader of offense that, collectively, needs to be so much better than it was Monday, when it was limited to just a field goal for the first time since Week 16 of the 2017 season.
Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Seahawks Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey
Mayfield, understandably as the quarterback, has taken the brunt of the external criticism. His most recent performance, statistically, was his worst since entering the NFL, as he completed just 8-of-22 passes for 100 yards, two interceptions and a fumble.
Asked repeatedly about Mayfield on Monday -- especially when it pertained to his performance during a breakout rookie season compared to his first five games of 2019 -- Browns coach Freddie Kitchens pointed to the offense as a whole. It’s “11 guys that have to be in sync,” Kitchens said.
“I think it is an ongoing process with all of our guys,” Kitchens said. “I will reiterate just because you are coming back another year does not mean you are going to pick up where you left off. Everything changes. Everything is different. Baker knows what he needs to work on, and he is doing a good job of working on it and he will continue it.”
What made Monday’s game particularly confounding for the Browns was that it came directly after what appeared to be a turning point for the offense and team as a whole. After racking up 530 yards and 40 points in Baltimore -- a game that looked so much like some of the team’s best moments during the previous season -- the Browns mustered just 180 yards and the field goal against the 49ers.
Most everything that worked against the Ravens seemingly backfired in San Francisco. And most everything that troubled the offense in Weeks 1-3 came back at the worst possible time.
That’s what makes a bounce-back performance Sunday against Seattle feel all the more attainable. The Browns have seen it and done it in 2019. They’re not just reminiscing about the best of times in 2018.
“We are a different team,” Mayfield said. “Obviously, I am not happy that I am not picking up with the same success that we ended off with, but that is a part of the game. That is a part of the learning curve of getting better each week, trying to get better and trying to execute and just knowing who we are as a team and what I need to do to make us have success.
“For me, it is about winning games so when we do not do that, I did not doing my job.”
Kitchens on Tuesday said he doesn’t want the Browns to be a “roller coaster” team that is good one week and bad the next. He’d just like to see the team climb back up one more hill Sunday and stay there a while.
“Everybody around the quarterback needs to play better, everybody around the quarterback needs to coach better and the quarterback needs to play better,” Kitchens said. “I do not know what is going on outside, but everybody in our building is taking ownership of what we put on the field the other night, and everybody is committed to getting better from that. That is everybody – every position, every coach, everybody that was on our plane is committed to getting better. That is where we are.”