Like Rocky Balboa training to meet Ivan Drago on an isolated Siberian mountain, Baker Mayfield has exiled distractions in a bid to forget his lackluster sophomore NFL season, which he expounded on in his recent Zoom call with Cleveland media.
I think that has been the best thing is essentially just getting back to the basics.
As any Browns fan, and indeed the entire country, knows, the prognostications of the ascendance of the Browns as “America’s team” were not only premature, but embarrassingly incorrect. Freddie Kitchens’ new look Browns team, hot off a 7-9 season and record setting performance by rookie QB Baker Mayfield, looked to be the next big thing. Unfortunately, the only the Browns did was lay a big egg , with Mayfield’s regression being a big reason for the team’s struggles.
There was a perception prior to least season that the Browns, and Mayfield in particular, were treating the off-season and pre-season too cavalierly. And in retrospect, the signs of a let down were abundant.
This off-season, it appears Mayfield is taking nothing for granted and adopting the mentality that has taken him from a walk-on to setting the record for most touchdown passes by a rookie QB.
For me, it goes back to the mindset that I am comfortable and living in and that work-ethic mentality. I think that fits
The now chastened Mayfield is maintaining a low profile. Mayfield has been tasked with learning a new way to approach his footwork in the shotgun by new offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. This would allow Mayfield to be “on time” when he is running concepts that call for quick passing, a staple of the type of offense that Kevin Stefanski wants to run in Cleveland. Last year, the extra half step in Mayfield’s drop was more evident than ever, especially with not having enough time with new receiving target Odell Beckham Jr.
It is just a different rhythm and timing. It is breaking some of the habits that I have had for a long time, but I am getting used to it. It is just about repetition to be quite honest with you.
Gone are the commercials and appearances in trendy restaurants. The only thing on the menu is work, work and more work. A training program that has served him well in the past.
I have a different approach to this year. I think everybody who has been interviewed on our team has hit the nail on the head over and over about it is time to work. It is time to do our thing, instead of talking about it…get back to the fundamentals to where I can accomplish the goals when the season comes around.
By returning to gritty, under the radar, training sessions, Baker is returning to his roots. A blue-collar, workmanlike approach to improvement without the distractions and temptations that NFL stardom offers. And with it perhaps an admission that success that comes too quickly, or too easily, may be fleeting.
No distractions. No excuses.