The Cleveland Browns will face off with Baker Mayfield on Sunday.
The Cleveland Browns saw their best four-year stretch since 1999 thanks in part to Baker Mayfield, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. Mayfield helped make the Browns offensive dynamic and was a great compliment to Nick Chubb. He led the team to the playoffs and spanked the Pittsburgh Steelers in turn and came up just shy of an AFC title game birth.
Injuries and drama curtailed the young quarterbacks time in Cleveland and eventually the team moved on by getting disgraced quarterback Deshaun Watson. The whole process was drawn out, messy and destroyed the team’s reputation in the public eye. Not just for who they got to replace Mayfield but how the whole process played out.
It’s fair to say that when the Browns and Mayfield collide on Sunday in the first regular season of the game for both sides, it won’t just be any other game. There is bad blood there, especially from Mayfield, even if no one is saying it. This is not just any old game, and if the Browns fall to Mayfield, the whole world won’t let them forget it.
The Cleveland Browns can’t afford to lose to Baker Mayfield
The Browns are already in a situation where fans and media alike think the team is looking at a losing season. Jacoby Brissett isn’t a bad guy, he isn’t even a bad player necessarily, but he’s not a great fit for the Browns and the limitations they have on offense. The team isn’t loaded at receiver, and will need a little extra help to get open and that isn’t Brissett’s game. He’s more of a game manager than he is a playmaker.
If Brissett were in say, Los Angeles with the Rams, he may have more of an impact with the offense. Yet, with the Browns, there isn’t the same level of talent at the receiver positions and so he’s going to be limited in what he could do.
So with the Browns looking at tough matchup with Mayfield, and the fact that Mayfield is everything Brissett isn’t, the pressure will surely be on the Browns. If Mayfield goes in and torches the Browns and Brissett struggles, the NFL media will not let the Browns forget this.
It’s going to be bad enough to see Mayfield throwing bombs, but if the Browns defense can’t stop him, or the Panthers offense, then not only will questions persist into the season about the offenses ability to score, but if the defense looks bad against Mayfield, then fans will surely panick.
After all, Mayfield’s reputtation isn’t hte best at the moment as a player. If Mayfield torches everyone this year, then the Browns reputation can be earned back, but if it’s a misnomer, then the team will truly never be able to live it down.
This is not a situation where the Browns can just win, they have to truly dominate the Panthers to earn back some credibily that they’ve lost with Watson’s suspension. If they don’t, then any optimism for this season goes out the window.