Baker Mayfield has always expressed trust in his wide receivers no matter what.
His actions all season have proved that — he won't shy away from receivers if they record an early drop, and his confidence paid off in a massive way last Sunday in Tennessee.
When Donovan Peoples-Jones dropped a short pass on the first drive of the game, Mayfield went back to him for his deepest completion of the season three drives later. Peoples-Jones ran behind the entire Titans secondary and was all alone when Mayfield hit him with a deep pass for a 75-yard touchdown.
Mayfield has other examples of his trust in receivers, too. He continued to target Jarvis Landry in Week 8 despite a few dropped passes throughout the game, and he hasn't been afraid to throw tricky passes to Rashard Higgins, KhaDarel Hodge, Peoples-Jones or any other receivers on the field.
"At the receiver position, it's our job to be very detailed and precise in the pass game and be exactly where we need to be at all times and have consistency in that area," pass game coordinator and wide receivers coach Chad O'Shea said. "I think Baker is trusting our guys to do that. He's definitely shown that by his play."
That work is the result of several long months of working in practice and building the chemistry that's imperative between Mayfield and each receiver. Those relationships and trust cultivate when a quarterback understands the speed, timing and route acceleration of all his targets, and it's safe to say that Mayfield has taken that bond with his receivers corps at great length as the Browns make a push for the playoffs.
"It's not something that just happens overnight. It's built on the practice field," O'Shea said. "These guys have been working together now for some time, and they've really developed chemistry and confidence in each other. I appreciate Baker's willingness to come back to a player, especially after they experience an early drop."
Stefanski Comments on Anthony Hughes
Before coach Kevin Stefanski fielded questions in his Saturday press conference, he made a statement on the death of Anthony Hughes Jr., a 15-year-old boy who was shot and killed in Cleveland on Wednesday after attending a meeting about a different teenager who had been fatally shot by an officer who polices public housing.
"He was a young man who lost his life Wednesday night in our city," Stefanski said. "I just want to extend my condolences to his friends and his family. I know he was active in the Boys and Girls Club. It was such a tragic, senseless thing that happened, and I encourage everybody to read this young man's story and find a way to make sure this won't happen again."
When B.J. Goodson signed with the Browns in the offseason, he immediately expressed how much he wanted to become a leader for a linebacker room full of young talent.
Goodson has embraced that role to the fullest. Players have commended him all season for his ability to call out plays, align the defense and make big plays when the ball is snapped. He leads the Browns with 81 tackles and has posted two interceptions in a season for the second time in his career. He six passes defensed are also a career-high.
Linebackers coach Jason Tarver has appreciated Goodson's leadership and ability to stay even-keeled no matter the situation. He noted how Goodson was able to sniff out a pass play to an offensive lineman who was eligible as a receiver last week in Tennessee, and he also commended Goodson for making a few difficult tackles on running back Derrick Henry, who was limited to just 60 yards.
"What has been great about B.J. is he is the same every day," Tarver said. "He just keeps getting better. When he makes a mistake, the next time it happens, he gets it perfect. It happens throughout the week of practice as we are learning, and then he gets in the game and he sees it, and he has been to close and make plays."
Marvin Hall progressing
The Browns activated newly acquired wide receiver Marvin Hall off the exempt list Saturday.
Hall, who has 17 receptions for 290 yards and two touchdowns this season with the Detroit Lions, could potentially grab a role in the offense as he continues to learn the playbook and acclimate to the scheme. He could also be a candidate for a special teams role as well — he's returned three punts and 29 kicks in his three NFL seasons.
"We're having those discussions," Stefanski said. "He's a speedster, and he's made a bunch of plays over his career, so we'll see where he fits in."