The Browns have started 4-2. However, their four wins have been bookended by blowout losses, 38-6 at Baltimore and 38-7 at Pittsburgh.
As a result, the Browns have taken plenty of heat this week. Much of it has focused on quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Asked by reporters on Wednesday about the critics, Mayfield said (via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com), “I don’t give a damn what they say.”
The choice of words would suggest that he does give a damn what they say, and that he’s irritated by the questions that have lingered. Some think the Browns should move on from him. Others think Case Keenum should get a chance to start. It’s odd to see that after the team won four games in a row.
Although Mayfield insists he remains confident, he added that “4-2 never felt so much like 0-6.”
Browns fans need to realize they’re a long way from 0-6 or, as the case may be, 4-44 from 2015 through 2017. However, as the Browns develop the ability to win games against average and below-average teams, they need to bust through and beat an elite team in order to persuade those who say that Mayfield is closer to average or below average himself.
The schedule includes several potential wins over the final 10 games, from the Bengals on Sunday to the Texans to the Eagles to the Jaguars to the Jets and Giants in consecutive weeks at MetLife Stadium. That points to 10-6 for the first time since 2007, and a likely playoff berth in a seven-team AFC field.
Still, it’s in the other four games where the Browns will need to show they’re good enough to compete, whether it’s the Raiders or the Titans or the Ravens or the Steelers. Cleveland and Mayfield will need to win one of those games — or at least be competitive — to get people to believe that the first playoff appearance in 18 years will be anything other than a blowout loss to whoever lands in the conference’s No. 2 seed.