No dog in the fight, but if you’re too hurt to be productive, you’re too hurt to play. Citing injuries after the fact is a non-starter, and not deemed an acceptable reason for losing. I am the worst person to discuss losing QBs as a lifelong Packers fan, but I am rational and unbiased, so lets try.
While I understand Baker isn’t responsible for the injury excuses, his camp (seemingly more than half of Cleveland) is determined to push this narrative. If you should not be playing, don’t. The team’s coaching/training staff is equally responsible. If we understand Baker Mayfield’s talent, then we know that he is good, maybe… Great? Absolutely not.
So if Peyton Manning is playing hurt and he is a great QB, we can still expect good or near great performance. If a maybe-good quarterback is playing hurt, we get bad, below average or maybe good performance. That is not to say the backup options were better, but lets own the real issue here. Baker Mayfield is not as good as most of Cleveland, Ohio wants him to be.
Walking into the season with these options as 1 and 2 (interchange the rank as you see fit,) is a luxury no other quarterback in the NFL had, thus the expectations are high. Higher than Downey Jr. in Less Than Zero. The fact that it may be hard to differentiate who’s 1 and 2 at their respective position indicates how talented the team was.
WR: Odell Beckham Jr; Jarvis Landry
RB: Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt
TE: Austin Hooper, David Njoku
You cannot underachieve with this offense and avoid criticism. However public the OBJ drama was, we can be sure there have been some private conversations regarding Mayfield’s ability to lead the Cleveland Browns. On the heels of OBJ Sr;’s mix tape, Baker awoke from his slumber on Twitter. We all are human, and anxious to defend, but defending yourself as a leader of the team, publicly, on social media, when the team hasn’t won anything; is a bad look. Especially as the target you are passive aggressively defending yourself on/from is still in the playoffs; heading to a Super Bowl Win. Awkwaaarrrddd
So here we are: Baker needs to be the leader that’s expected. A farewell letter when nothing has happened yet is interesting. Maybe he’s asked for a trade internally, and we just don’t know that yet? Half of Browns twitter empathetic and thanking him for his contributions, some questioning his ability to lead and his skill set; and others angry at the front office for entertaining Deshaun Watson as an option.
To be clear, any team that does not currently have a quarterback better than Deshaun Watson is interested in Deshaun Watson. To what extent, or how public the interest is, that’s unknown. The difference between those teams and New Orleans, San Francisco, Carolina, and yes, Cleveland is it’s out there for all of us to read, and speculate. Let’s pretend I am the General Manager of the Kansas City Royals. Trust me, I am interested in Mike Trout, because he is better than my current center fielder. That does not mean it’s a real possibility, but me, as the GM of the team having the conversations and exploring the option, is not only not a bad thing, but actually the right thing, and my job!
There is one certainty: If Deshaun Watson ends up on the Cleveland Browns, Browns fans should not care (moral/personal/legal issues notwithstanding.) Watson is the better player. No one disputes this. Also, the Cleveland Browns still may be a better team without Baker. If he stays, how good will they be? Twitter is full of “Riding with 6,” while the loyalty is endearing, is he a Super Bowl caliber quarterback?