Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield thrives on external motivation. On Wednesday, external motivation morphed to anger, when he bristled at questions from Tony Grossi of ESPN Cleveland and walked away from Mayfield’s weekly press conference.
Friday’s PFT Live included visits from a couple of guests who offered their views on the situation. Including Grossi himself.
I asked Grossi what he’d say to Mayfield if he had Mayfield on the phone. Beyond the obvious first question Grossi would pose to Mayfield (“How did I get you on the phone?”), Grossi said that he’d say this: “You have to direct your anger away from me and to your job.”
Another Tony — Hall of Famer Dungy — agrees with that assessment.
“He’s been the underdog,” Dungy said on Friday’s show regarding Mayfield. “He’s used that kind of chip on his shoulder his whole career. That seems to motivate him. There comes a time where you’re not going to be able to play that underdog role all the time and you’re just going to need to move forward. That’s what I would talk to him about. ‘Hey, keep that anger inside, use that as motivation, but don’t necessarily let the world see it all the time.'”
The word definitely saw it this week.
“He said he plays better when he’s angry,” Grossi said. “But I think that should be tunneled toward Sundays, not Wednesdays of practice week.”
Grossi also explained how things went haywire with Mayfield on Wednesday.
“He’s usually directed some snarky responses to me, and I just decided to challenge him on this particular point because I was trying to get to the bad execution in the two-minute drive at the end of the half that could have gotten them right back in the game,” Grossi said. “And those are the periods of games where the Browns are really failing at, pressure situations that could change the game. And so when I challenged him, he didn’t like it. And I either had to say, ‘All right, step back or try to find this answer.” And he didn’t like it.”
Mayfield definitely didn’t like it. And he has done well finding fuel in comments and questions he doesn’t like. This year, however, none of that seems to be working.
If the Browns can’t work out a way to win in Denver on Sunday, a sixth loss through eight games will make it virtually impossible for Baker to like the eventual finish of the 2019 season.