The Beginning: For anyone that doesn’t know me very well, I’m what you would call a college football nut. Along with my best friend Kenny, we spend hours each day talking about who we like in the college game. As a Cleveland Browns fan, my main topic has always been the quarterback. So in 2015, my friend Kenny says, “Hey Chad, you may want to check out this kid Mayfield.” Kenny is a Tennessee Vol’s fan.On September 12th, 2015 I flipped on my TV for the Oklahoma Sooners vs Tennessee Vol’s game. This was the start of Mayfield the football player, who would become one of my all-time favorite quarterbacks. While his stats for that game didn’t jump out, and I’m all about the numbers,something else did. It’s what everyone will soon call the Mayfield “it” factor.
The College Years: I’m also a hardcore Ohio State Buckeyes fan, so it wasn’t always easy to watch every game Baker played in. I would flip back and forth hoping to catch one of his crazy, off-the-wall dynamic plays. I remember always asking myself, “How was that even possible?” Mayfield ended his first year at Oklahoma with 269 completions in 395 attempts, and a QB rating of 68.1%. Then came his junior year.
Playing the first game of the season in a night game at Houston, Mayfield took a big L.. The next game, I caught was Mayfield vs Ohio State. This is the one game that completely changed Baker Mayfield for the better, in my opinion. What started as a promising game against Ohio State turned into a 45 to 24 beat down. The fire was lit, and it was about to become the Baker Mayfield show. Mayfield then went on to win 10 games in a row and finish the year going 254 completions in 358 attempts with a QB rating of 70.9%. I knew then that I wanted Mayfield to be the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns, if everything worked out.
The College Years Part 2: I was shocked that Mayfield decided to stay in college another year and bring a national title to the school he loved so much. After the Browns had passed on quarterbacks in the first round and chose Deshone Kizer in the second, I wasn’t sure they would be drafting another quarterback the next year.
But like a drug, I could not stop watching this kid from Lake Travis High School take the football world by storm. I watched every game, interview, and read every story I could find. I wanted to learn everything about Mayfield and hopefully put my finger on this mysterious “it” factor. He overcame any obstacle put in his way and always stayed loyal to what truly drove him—. While Mayfield may be complex on the field, what many miss about him is his drive to never let down those who believe in him.
The Pre\-Draft: At this point, I had already made up my mind who I wanted the Browns to take at the number one overall pick. But unlike years before, I was not going to keep my opinions quiet. Though I had no influence over the decision the Browns made, I wanted to make my opinions known. I had two goals in place:First, make sure that I had a real understanding of who Mayfield the person was. Second to know his game and how he was able to play at such a high level. With both in place, my hope was to finally understand that “it” that would change the Browns forever.
Post-Draft: Mayfield was chosen and he was finally a Cleveland Brown. But unlike other coaches, Hue Jackson took a completely different approach to how Mayfield would earn his starting role. Naming Tyrod the starter Mayfield would have to watch from the sidelines and learn.
From the first day of training camp, I could tell something was different It was Baker. Knowing his role was to learn rather than start, Baker worked every second. He watched closely how Tyrod contorted the offense. Always asking questions from coaches and veteran backup quarterback Drew Stanton. Everything was about getting better. It was easy to see, throw after throw, Mayfield’s progression and arm strength. He worked with anyone coach Jackson would place with his group. He turned temporary help into stars with each play. His learning curve was at the highest level. I attended five training camps in total, and there’s on thing I noticed. Mayfield’s improvement had him equal to starter Tyrod Taylor in just a short amount of time.
Preseason: It didn’t take long for people to notice that Mayfield was becoming the best looking prospect for the franchise quarterback he was chosen to be. Each game of the preseason, Mayfield crafted his game, taking it to the next level. During this process, I took extensive notes trying to understand how it was all coming together. He was an excellent teammate, and as coach Jackson said, he handled himself the right way. Finishing preseason going 35 of 61, with a QB completion rate of 56.3%. Mayfield gave the Browns fans a taste of what was yet to come.
Fast Forward to Week 3: I watched Mayfield closely in the week 1 opener against the Steelers. Every play, Baker handled himself as if he was the starter. When the offense was on the sidelines, Mayfield had his helmet off and made sure he was involved with whatever Tyrod was doing. When the offense would go out, his helmet went on. He listened to the plays and check his sheet. Mayfield asked questions and spoke up to each member of the unit. Whenever the defense made a play, Baker was one of the first to help hype them up.
But when the Jets came to town, I watched as Mayfield took another huge step into what we all witnessed that wonderful Thursday night. Mayfield was even more engaged than normal on Thursday. He had the routine down. The attention to detail was something I had not seen since his days at Oklahoma. Then something happened that even I wasn’t ready for. On a third and twelve, ball on the 26, Tyrod had just thrown an incomplete pass to Landry. Walking off the field with his head down, Tyrod didn’t know a penalty was called. Mayfield sprung into action and ran to Tyrod telling him about the fresh new set of downs and to get back in. Not a coach, not an assistant, but the backup quarterback. Mayfield was in his zone and ready for this to be his night, if needed.
The second half: With Tyrod out, it was finally Baker Mayfield time in Cleveland, Ohio. The Stadium was packed, crowd yelling, and it was time to work. Now Mayfield was in full control of the offense each play he was like a commander facing down insurmountable odds. Using every detail he picked up from captain Tyrod Taylor, Mayfield made this his game—and nothing was going to stop him. If something didn’t go as planned Baker made adjustments and helped his fellow teammates succeed. You could see heads held higher and swagger kicking in between plays. As if the night couldn’t get any more insane, Browns fans watched as Joel Bitonio picked up a fumble and went for the first down like a wrecking ball. This team was on fire, and Baker Mayfield was the the one who ignited it.
The “it” factor: After four years watching Baker Mayfield, I have finally come to an opinion on what the “it” factor really is for Mayfield. It can be summed up in one easy word:loyalty. Loyalty to his family, friends,coaches, fans, and everyone that believes in him. Dedication to nothing less than his full potential. Some call it a chip on his shoulder, and that is understandable. Loyalty in its purest form is, as Jarvis Landry says, contagious.
So Browns fans, we may have found our franchise quarterback. This isn’t going to be an easy road, which we all know from experience. Every little mistake Mayfield may make will be amplified by the people that can’t stand him. But I can also tell you he’ll be loyal to you personally, even if he doesn’t know your name. For Baker Mayfield, this world is never only about him. It’s about being great for the people that lift him up and that, friends, is our job.
Go Browns for life.
Written By: @Chadp71
Edited By: @Robzie_