The Jets and Browns, among others, are breaking in rookie quarterbacks. And it’s a former Jets rookie quarterback who is working with the Browns rookie quarterback.
Yes, Chad Pennington — a first-round pick of the Jets in 2000 — is mentoring Baker Mayfield. And Pennington’s primary recommendation is surprisingly simple.
“My first piece of advice came from a place of transparency and honesty in saying that, ‘Baker, you have to remember who you are,'” Pennington told Nate Ulrich of the Akron Beacon-Journal. “‘And that is a guy who was a twice walk-on in college, and without your work ethic and your talent, you would probably be a [graduate assistant] somewhere coaching.'”
The goal is to get Mayfield to “keep that edge about [him], or this game and the entertainment value around this game will eat a player up and spit him out.”
Pennington has cautioned Mayfield to shy away from some of the pre-draft projects he embraced, including a nine-part Facebook documentary.
“[O]nce you believe you’re an entertainer, not a football player, your time is going to be limited in this league,” Pennington told Ulrich. “We talked about keeping it strictly about football, eliminating some of those distractions. I certainly understand the business side of building your brand, but like I tell all the rookies I speak with, your brand is not how many followers you have on Twitter and friends on Facebook. Your brand is how you work and how you treat people, and if your work ethic is right and you treat people right, your brand will be built the correct way.”
Pennington also believes that Mayfield should reconsider his habit of remembering which media members write or say critical things about him.
“You [should] have a healthy perspective on it where you use it as motivation but you don’t take it so personal that it completely controls every action and reaction that you have,” Pennington said. “We think that this relationship with the media should be so tense and adversarial. But when I look back upon it, I think most people within the media are good people, a lot of them are closet fans of the team they’re reporting on, they just don’t want you to know it, and if you treat them with respect and understand they have a job to do and so do you and you keep that healthy and professional, it can be something that bodes well for you.”
Pennington likes the fact that the Browns are committed to keeping Mayfield on the bench to start his career, as long as Mayfield is willing to support the starter.
“When [the quarterback] room is stable, then the team is stable,” Pennington said. “When that room is not stable, the team is not stable.”
The Browns have been anything but stable in recent years. If they groom Mayfield the right way — and if he’s all in with the approach — they may be better than stable, for a long time.