Baker Mayfield

USA Today

America’s Team

Cleveland 17, Denver 16.

December 17, 2018 - 10:14 am

I have said it before, in fact, I’ve said it practically every week during the 2018 NFL season: nobody knows anything on a week-to-week basis. Remember the Seattle Seahawks, who some people thought were rounding in form and the one team you simply did not want to see, now or in the postseason? ERRRRRRNNNNNTTT.

They just lost to the 49ers, who have nothing to play for….; well, outside of the first pick in the draft. And they still slapped the ‘hawks.

Yeah, but the Rams would get right against the Eagles and backup Nick Foles, right? WRONG ehhhhhhhhh!!

LA’s lost two straight, Jared Goff is struggling, and they could miss out on a bye. They look nothing like the juggernaut we saw earlier this season: hell, even just a few weeks ago.

The Cowboys defense saved their season and the offense has finally come to life with Amari Cooper? Errrrr,!!! Dallas 0, Colts 23. The Cowboys get shutout for the first time in 15 years.  I guess you’re not going to the Super Bowl, ehhh Jerrah! Guess Dak, Zeke and Amari aren’t’ the new triplets, ehhhh Jerrrah?? Ehhh!

Steelers lose to the Raiders last week but beat the Patriots this week. A Pats team that has owned them for years and has now imploded in the fourth quarter two weeks in a row. And if they’re going to rip another Lombardi trophy, they’re going to have to do with a losing road record; and the way they’re playing right now, I just don’t see it. I said a few weeks back on the NFL ON CBS, the Patriots will be done, when they’re done.  WELL…

I could go on, but in this jacked up, upside down NFL world where black is white and day is night…, where do you turn for reliability and safety? Something steady: something you CAN count on. You know…. A sure thing? I’ll tell you. To Cleveland. 

To the Cleveland Freaking Browns. America’s Team.

Because my guys came through, yet again. Cleveland 17, Denver 16. 

I’ve been driving the Browns bandwagon all year and I’m about at the point right now where I don’t think we want any more passengers. If you didn’t get on before Saturday night’s primetime game, then we don’t want you now. Because these guys are for real.

Saturday night wasn’t about Broncos head coach Vance Joseph making a completely whack decision with less than five minutes left in the game, it was all about the Cleveland Browns. 

They rolled right into Denver, in primetime, and beat up another team with playoff aspirations, a team that had a mental stranglehold on previous Browns teams. I’m not going to say that win erases “The Drive” or “The Fumble” or the 11 straight losses to the Broncos. But I’m not going to say that it doesn’t erase it.

And save me that cool bit of trivia that they had not won in Denver since 1990. Those were the old Browns. These Browns were 0-0 in Denver. This is a whole new team with a new attitude and I love these guys. And you should too: it’s why I ripped the America’s team moniker from the Cowboys and gave to the Browns: because unlike these Cowboys, these Browns ARE a team we can all rally around.

Want to know how long ago 1990 was? I’ll let Baker Mayfield answer that: “Five years later I was born, so that was a long time.” 

This is the same guy who posted on Instagram before the game: “Ride with me Cleveland.”

And all of C-Town did. And so should the rest of you.

No, he didn’t play his best game of the season. He had less than 200 passing yards and did throw a pick, but he also threw a fourth quarter touchdown that was part of yet another fourth quarter comeback from him. 

Honestly, that ability to bounce back impresses me just as much, if not more, than if he came out and threw for three hundred yards and three touchdowns. Because anyone can be a quarterback and a leader when it’s going well. A true quarterback and leader, a true franchise guy, turns it around when it isn’t going well. No matter how many things have gone wrong for him or them, this guy always believes he’s going to make a play. Never rattles. Never blinks. A and that’s infectious; its’ contagious. 

And nobody’s turned around anything better than Baker Mayfield has turned around the Cleveland Browns. 

Let’s go back in history one more time. Not to 1990, but to February, when Baker Mayfield said at the Combine that “if anybody’s going to turn that franchise around, it’d be me.’’ Holy freaking hell, he’s done it. 

Just ask Von Miller “He was great. Just like you saw on TV, he’s a fiery guy. He was mad at the refs for a little bit and some of the stuff that he said to the refs, I was like, ‘Geez, this guy right here.’ It was good to go against Baker and play against him. He has incredible talent and he has an incredible team from tight end to receivers. Nick Chubb played out of his mind too. He’s a horse and I don’t think he gets enough credit over there. Their defense played lights out as well. They’ve got a great team and the Browns are on their way up.”

If you’re getting Von Miller to say “Geez, this guy right here,” you know you’re looking at something special.

And going back to Vance Joseph for a second. I am not here for any of you coming through and bashing his decision to kick a field goal down 4 points with less than five minutes to go. 

You see…That’s what the Browns do to you – they pressure you. They make things uncomfortable for you, mentally and physically, then you question yourself; then you break. 

Was kicking a field goal on 4th and 1 from the Browns 6-yard line with 4:35 left down by 4 points the smartest move ever? No, but that’s what it’s like when you face the Browns. They make you do things you ordinarily wouldn’t do, or shouldn’t do; because they’re in your head. 

Cleveland’s Jabrill Peppers was surprised by the move: "Absolutely. Absolutely. But, hey, it worked out in our favor. We'd been stopping them all day and they didn't want to come away with nothing."

That’s the truth. The Browns had been stopping them all day. So Vance Joseph made a decision.

"I wanted points there. We had about 4:35 left. We had one timeout and the 2-minute warning. I trust our defense to get a stop there." 

Yeah, well you were wrong about that. Because Nick Chubb broke off a 40-yard run on the first play after the field goal. Because that’s what the Browns do. That’s what legends do.

All of that is to say, I’m not going to bother with the ifs and hypotheticals that are required for the Browns to make the playoffs, I’m going to live as if. The Browns don’t care about odds, or chances, or what other teams need to do. They’re all about living it as if it’s already happened. Dress for the job you want, not the job you have, and the job the Browns want is in the playoffs. I’m not even going to get into the fact that Gregg Williams is actually coaching his way into this gig full time; or that if he they had fired Hue Jackson sooner, or better yet, not brought him back at all, they probably already would have clinched a playoff spot. 

So get used to it, America, the Browns are going to the playoffs. It’s just a matter of when, and what they do when they get there. They are America’s team and I couldn’t be any more hyped about them than I am right now!