After going 4-44 from 2015 through 2017, the Browns have generated a 9-3 record in 2020.
The general question becomes whether the Browns can reach even greater heights. The specific question becomes whether quarterback Baker Mayfield is the one to take them there.
“Absolutely,” receiver Jarvis Landry told reporters on Friday.
Many don’t necessarily agree, and Landy explained how Mayfield has handled external doubt and criticism.
“For me just watching him, I think he just stuck to the script,” Landry said. “I think he understood that regardless of what was happening, wins or losses, that it also reflects on him and how he plays. I think that for him he has been one of the hardest workers since I have gotten here. He is not content with what he has done, what he has done in the past or anything like that. That is always something that is encouraging to see from a guy who has had success and is still on the younger side of players and quarterbacks in this league. . . .
“It is encouraging to see how he just continues to come out here and work, regardless of what he does in the previous game, water under the bridge. The things that are said about him in the media or whatever it is, whether he takes it personal or not, I know he comes here to work and challenge himself, and it has paid off. Look, we are 9-3, and you could say that I do not think 20 years ago. It says a lot about that man.”
Mayfield definitely has handled criticism differently in 2020. He doesn’t get salty or petty or pissy with those who have questioned him. Lately, he’s taken to making press-conference references from TV shows like The Office and Parks and Rec, which quite possibly has become a way for him to turn exchanges that could turn contentious into something light and fun and not combative.
“He just keeps going,” Landry said of Mayfield. “He just keeps going. He just keeps coming to work to try to get better. He keeps challenging himself and challenging us on the outside. We are finding ways to do different things and also get good at things that we want to do game in and game out. For us, the more time that we are continuing to spend together, the better we are getting. Again, I will keep on saying it, the best football that we have to play is ahead of us. That starts with coming out here working on this practice field each and every day.”
That meshes with something coach Kevin Stefanski told PFT after Sunday’s signature win over the Titans. As December arrives, the Browns recognize that the time has come to step it up, to do everything smarter and better. They did just that against Tennessee, and now they have golden opportunities in consecutive prime-time games to show everyone that they can continue to take their game to a higher and higher level.
Is Mayfield the right quarterback to take them there? The best way to prove it is to do it, and maybe he’s in the process of doing just that.