Videos by OutKick
Through 11 games in 2021, the 6-5 Cleveland Browns have already matched their loss total from all of last season (11-5).
The city of Cleveland’s short-term memory, forgetting the lineage of losing that led up to the exceptional 2020-21 season, is placing its hefty expectations on fourth-year quarterback Baker Mayfield amid a contract season.
Mayfield finished the Browns’ latest victory, coming against a winless Detroit Lions team, completing 15 of 29 passes for 176 yards and a touchdown. On the season, Baker is completing 64 percent of his passes to accompany 10 touchdowns, six interceptions and 2,166 passing yards.
Former Saints quarterback Drew Brees became a comparison figure for Baker along the Sooner’s process to getting drafted No. 1 overall in 2018. Essentially because of the height, but also showing some similarities in tenacity — both mentally and physically.
The retiree-turned-broadcaster gave the struggling Baker some encouragement during an interview on Tuesday after facing plenty of obstacles himself throughout 20 years in the League.
“For Baker, listen, I know what it’s like to have some of those injuries,” Brees said. “Probably had a lot of the same injuries that he’s dealing with right now, and they’re no fun. Do they affect you? Yes, they affect you. They affect your weekly preparation because you’ve got to spend so much time on your rehab, prehab, just taking care of your body and just getting to Sunday.”
He added, “The story’s yet to be written there. I think for them it’s just a matter of tuning out all the noise and just focusing on the business at hand.”
Brees expressed further belief in Baker without sacrificing any accountability. He reminded Mayfield to keep pursuing an objective to win, no matter the cost.
“But at the end of the day, there’s a different way to win each week,” Brees said. “Even though there’s times where you might not be 100% or you may not have your ‘A’ game or all of the tools in the toolbox, you’ve just got to find what you do have and find a way to go out there and make it work to get you the win.”
Pressures are mounting, but Baker’s support staff, including coach Kevin Stefanski, believe the 26-year-old can outlast the noise.
“He’s pouring everything he has into this week focusing on his preparation,” Stefanski commented, addressing some frustrations made public by his quarterback on the lackluster performances. “I think he is in a good place.”
Even Green Bay Packers legend Brett Favre chimed in to fortify Baker’s position as a franchise quarterback, despite receiving some boos for his play this year.
“I’ve been booed before. I’ve been booed by the home and away [crowd],” Favre announced while discussing the topic on his radio show Monday morning. “It happens. But [Mayfield’s] physical toughness has to translate into mental toughness. … “
Follow along on Twitter: @AlejandroAveela