On the night of #HandshakeGate, the performance of Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield caused plenty of handwringing for fans of the team. So what caused him to complete eight of 22 passes for 100 yards, no touchdowns, and two interceptions?
“I think there is a lot that goes into that whenever you start talking about that,” coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters on Tuesday. “Some of it has to do with the lack of protection. Some if it had to do with a couple bad throws, a couple bad decisions. Overall, we had some drops. You can’t do those things and play the quarterback position at an elite level. If you just want the honest answer, you have to have consistency around you, you have to be consistent yourself and none of that happened last night.”
Then there’s the question of whether and to what extent Mayfield’s performance was diminished by the motivation he provides via his real or fabricated actions and words.
“I think different people find motivation from different things,” Kitchens said. “I think ultimately it is what we do on the field not off the field in that type of setting that matters. Ultimately, we go to the game with the plan, and if we execute the plan, we are usually successful. If it is a good plan and we execute it, we are usually successful with it. It has nothing to do with things off the field like that. It is all about how you play the game.”
But it’s also about how the opponent plays the game. And if there’s something that gets the opponent more focused and determined to do their jobs, it’s harder to do your own job.
That’s why teams try to avoid giving opponents bulletin board material. It potentially works. Everything potentially works, real or imagined.
It definitely seemed to work for the 49ers last night. They found a way to get themselves even more fired up by something Mayfield didn’t even do, which definitely worked to the detriment of Mayfield and the Browns.