The last thing a Browns fan who’s been beaten over the head with COVID news leading up to a Wild Card game showdown against the Steelers wants is the starting quarterback to show an ounce of weakness. In some cases, these fans have literally been waiting their entire lives for this moment, and they know the Browns have their backs against a wall. It’s either battle or get blown out.
In his Zoom meeting with reporters this week, Baker Mayfield made it clear he’s rolling into Pittsburgh without fear of failing. These fans have waited way too long to watch a quarterback act scared of the moment.
As of Thursday, Mayfield hadn’t thrown a pass this week due to the Browns facility being closed. Nine players and six coaches have been taken out this week due to COVID. Sunday night’s game will go on.
“It is what it is,’’ Mayfield said. “There are no excuses, but luckily, we just played them last week. So it’s not like we’re practicing against a whole new defense. We have to be ready for the wrinkles, but luckily, we’ve game-planned against these guys.’’
“I mentioned to you guys last week, that [game] for us was a playoff game,’’ he said. “You have to empty the clip. It’s win or go home. You have to be ready for anything. Obviously, for the third time playing these guys,…the most important thing is taking care of the ball, communicating on the sideline and adjusting and seeing what those little wrinkles are with them having a lot of guys back and having new personnel.’’
Meanwhile, over in Pittsburgh (2-3 on Wild Card weekend since 2011), JuJu Smith-Schuster might’ve provided the Browns with that one piece of bulletin board material needed this week.
“I think they’re still the same Browns teams I play every year. “I think they’re nameless gray faces. They have a couple good players on their team, but at the end of the day, I don’t know. The Browns is the Browns,” Smith-Schuster told reporters. “It’s one of those things, AFC North football. They’re a good team. I’m just happy we’re playing them again.
As of Friday morning, the Browns still hadn’t practiced, but head coach Kevin Stefanski learned he’ll be allowed to communicate with his team right up until they leave the locker room for kickoff.
If Mayfield is phased by the off-the-field obstacles, he’s not showing it to reporters.
“However or whatever it takes to get a W on Sunday night, that is what our team is going to be ready to do,” he said Thursday.
A little something to get you ready for Sunday night:
— BlitzburghVideos ✨ (@BlitzVideos) January 8, 2021