America's Team 2.0

The Browns are back.

Jim Rome
May 28, 2020 - 1:28 pm
Baker Mayfield

USA Today

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Baker Mayfield spoke to the media yesterday for the first time in quite some time. And that was not by accident. That was by design. You’ll recall coming off his rookie season, Baker was one of the hottest names in sports and he was everywhere. And he was stirring things up.

He was lighting guys up and spitting junk. And I loved it. It was great. He was doing things and say things starting quarterbacks almost never say or do – and he was interesting as hell. And he took heat for it. Which made him even more interesting. And he kept right on doing it.

But a rough season last year, he’s taking a far different approach this offseason. As he said yesterday: "It's just time to work, do our thing, instead of talking about it. This is the first media thing I’ve done, just because there's no need to be talking about it. It's just time to go do it?"

Don’t just talk about it, be about it. And I love that too. I loved him talking junk and I’m loved him shutting his mouth. I love the guy putting himself out there. And I’ve him going tactical and laying low. I love this dude either way. 

Look, you can’t really tell anything about anyone from a media appearance, let alone one on a video call. But when I saw Baker yesterday, I had one thought and one thought only:

Baker is back. Baker Mayfield is back.

And that one thought leads to another thought:

The Browns are back.

The New America’s Team is ready to ride again. Yeah, I said it. The New America’s Team. America’s Team 2.0.

There’s a strategy to this. Baker’s been turning down media requests because he wants to stay locked in. Keep the main thing the main thing. "Right now, it's moving in silence, which is fine with me. That's how I used to do it before getting on a bigger stage. Get back to the fundamentals to where I can accomplish the goals when the season comes around."

So last year didn’t go so well for him. He knows that. The 21 picks was a huge spike from the year before. That’s not what he’s about. He know he has to take care of the ball.  He know he has to get back to the fundamentals.

And he’s got a bright new head coach in Kevin Stefanski and a new offense as well. And Baker has been going to school on that offense.

"I think it matches up very nicely. Being in control, getting checks in the run game, just being efficient. Last year was not a great year for turnovers, but I have always prided myself on not turning the ball over. ... Where we do take our shots, it has to be smart decisions. There's nothing wrong with throwing an incompletion every once in a while. Scheme-wise, how [Stefanski] is coaching it -- I think it's going to be a great fit."

A few weeks ago, Baker hosted nine teammates in Texas to work out and go over the offense. Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry could not make it because they are recovering from surgery, but new tight end Austin Hooper was there and Mayfield said the whole thing was a good experience.

"Good for everybody to be speaking the same terminology and just kind of hanging out during all this. We had a chance to get outside and throw a little bit. Felt really good to get around them."

Mayfield acknowledged on the video call that the third year is a big year for a quarterback because he’ll be eligible for an extension after it. But he’s not thinking about an extension right now. "There's no need for that, because if I win, good things will happen. Good things will happen for our team and the guys around me, and that's the most important part. If I play better, our team is going to do better." 

So now that I’ve let Baker had his chance to address everyone, it’s time for me to address everyone. And in particular, I’m going to be addressing all you who could handle the heat and the blowback and jumped off the bandwagon last year.

So things didn’t go the way anyone would’ve expected last year. It happens.

Your hero Michael Jordan didn’t win his first NBA title until his 7th year. Your boys Orville and Wilbur Wright, didn’t just roll out of the bike shop one day decide to start flying. They had a few missteps. You think Thomas Edison rolled out the rack one Monday morning and decided ill invent the light bulb? Hell no he didn’t.   

And that’s what 2019 was for the Browns.

It’s not how many times you get knocked down: it’s how many times you get back up: and these dudes are off the mat. They’re back.

You want to bet against Baker Mayfield, you go right ahead. Me? I’m not. Me? I’m rolling with the guy who walked on as a true freshman at Texas Tech, won the starting job, and was named Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year.

I’m rolling with the guy who then transferred to Oklahoma, walked on there, and won the starting job again. And led them to the playoffs twice and won the Heisman Trophy. We’re not talking about a guy who’s had everything handed to him and he’s facing adversity for the first time.

He’s had to fight for everything. This is a guy who has faced adversity time and time again, and come out on top.

You don’t have to roll with him, but I am. I’m betting on a guy who’s bet on himself repeatedly, and won.

You don’t have to. But I am. And I’m not just betting on Baker, I’m betting on the whole Browns team. I’m betting on Nick Chubb. I’m betting on Odell Beckham Jr. I’m betting on Jarvis Landry. I’m betting on Austin Hooper. I’m betting on Jack Conklin. I’m betting on JC Tretter. I’m betting on Jedrick Willis Jr. I’m betting on Kevin Stefanski. I’m betting on a loaded defense. I’m betting on America’s Team.

So things didn’t work out last year. That’s life. You want to quit on the Browns? You want to quit on America’s Team?

You go right ahead. We don’t need you. WE are all we’ve got and WE are all we need. I’m not bailing. Because bailing isn’t my way and it’s not the Cleveland Browns way. You don’t bail on America’s Team.

If the Wright Brothers and Edison bailed after the first attempt, we’d just on the ground, sitting at home in the dark. If Jordan had shut it down after the first few tries, he would have never denied Horace Grant his food, call Jerry Krause short and fat and bullied the teammates who he knew couldn’t take him. Baker’s never quit on anything before and I’m not quitting on him now.