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The next step for Baker Mayfield? Making the 'right guesses'

Is Baker Mayfield ready to replicate what happened Monday night in Los Angeles?

The Chiefs and Rams do play similar styles to what Mayfield did in college. He's played two of his best games since Freddie Kitchens took over as offensive coordinator. And Mayfield said he believes he'd thrive if the NFL kept trending toward higher and higher scores becoming the norm. 

But that's a little far afield. Let's start with the next step in his development for now. 

Mayfield's next step, Browns coach Gregg Williams said Wednesday, is developing a smart sense of anticipation. 

"I tease the guys all the time: Can you tell the difference between anticipation and guessing?" Williams said. "Anticipation is (the) right guesses, and if you are afraid to guess, you are going to have a hard time catching up in this league." 

Williams means knowing (or coming as close as you can to knowing) what the defense is going to do when Mayfield snaps the ball; knowing where his receivers will be and whether they'll be open based on what he sees from the defense. It's part of what he meant when he told Mayfield to "cut loose." He meant for Mayfield to trust his instincts.

Mayfield displayed that on multiple occasions in Cleveland's 28-16 win over the Falcons before the bye week. He launched a pass toward Jarvis Landry on the sidelines before Landry came out of his break. He threw to where only tight end David Njoku could catch it – the opposite side of where he was stationed behind a linebacker

Mayfield agreed there is a fine line between cutting it loose and putting the offense at too much risk.

"There are smart decisions and then there are careless [decisions]," Mayfield said. "Playing aggressive and playing on that line is something that (Williams) talks about. You have to be able to do that. You have to be able to find the little balance right in between (smart and careless)."

Williams said Peyton Manning was the best guesser he ever coached against. Given Manning's reputation as an unceasing studier and acclaimed defense dissector, the "guesses" were pretty much sure things.

Mayfield might get there one day, but it took Manning years to master reading defenses. Mayfield's still a rookie in a different football landscape from a year ago. So, right now, his task is to "cut it loose" in as fine and intelligent manner as he can. 

"It went beyond playing on the field type of stuff," Mayfield said. "I think that him saying to cut it loose to me meant letting my personality go. The reason that I was brought here is because of that stuff – the infectious energy, the passion for the game that I try to bring every day. I think it was more than just the on-field play."