Ready, Aim, Fire – Baker Readies for Start #2

Get a pen out and write this down on the calendar because you won’t hear me say things like this often. I can overlook Baker Mayfield’s four turnovers last week. No, I’ve not lost my mind and I’m not going to dwell on the Oakland circus. I already wrote about that here, plus it’s just time to move on. Two interceptions and two fumbles are never a good thing when it’s your team committing them, however, those weren’t the the only reason we lost. If we look at what Baker is capable of, there is a certain degree of optimism that proceeds to Week 5 in hopes of him doing his best impression of a Spanish galleon, blasting holes into the enemy’s defense.

He was clutch in the game against the Jets and put up nearly 300 yards against the Raiders. Some call him a risk-taker, fair enough, but I just think the guy has a sixth sense for threading the needle and making it work with consistency. We’ve seen the Browns fiddle around with a barracks full of quarterbacks over the past two decades, many of which struggled to get over a 200-yard passing hump. Regularly seeing 130 yards passing in a game (give or take) from our starters over the years often made me wonder how the front office went about picking their gunslinger. Truth be told, I wondered the same thing when Baker’s name was called in the draft this year (I’m uneasy about Heisman QB’s), but John Dorsey obviously knows what he’s doing.

Whether the Browns end up defeating Baltimore on Sunday, who knows? If I knew the answers to these things, I’d be on my yacht placing Vegas bets every hour while my butler served me lunch. What I can say is this: Baker will not turn the ball over four times. If that happens, it’s only because his receivers continue to tip catchable balls into the hands of receivers. During the post-game press conference last week, Mayfield said he’s just going to have to work on the location he places some of those passes. Baker, if you are able to get it any more accurate, I would think you are going to not only throw the ball but catch it too. I appreciate his modesty and his taking ownership of the loss. That’s what a leader does but really can’t pin any of the hiccups on him.

I also don’t know if our rookie QB will sail the ball for another 300 yards in Week 5 either. If he can, great. I’ll be doing backflips across the rooftops. If he doesn’t, at least we know we have somebody that’s certainly capable of moving the ball down the field based on recent history. While those are vital factors, one thing that catches my eye about his style more than anything else is how animated he gets when the team is doing well. Mayfield loves this game of football. He is a competitor to the Nth degree taking the heat for a loss and getting fired up when the team finds success, even if it’s just on one play. Take his mad dash the other day for instance.  Many of us watching last week’s game thought he may just outrun Nick Chubb on that 40+yard breakaway. That is what we need here on this team. That jolt, that giddy behavior and that adrenaline which are not things you can teach.

So as #6 gets ready for start #2, you can expect Mayfield’s attributes to prove detrimental to the Ravens’ defense this week. If I were a fly on the wall in Baltimore’s practice facility, I would probably be reporting back with all the time Ravens’ defensive coordinator Don Martindale spent breaking down video of Mayfield, someone he referred to as this generation’s Favre. Yes, I know what the Ravens have done to rookie quarterbacks recently. No, I’m not predicting victory and no, I’m not predicting a Tom Brady-like future, but I am predicting Baker’s stampeding momentum to take shape once again as he continues to ease into his role and ignite a spark Cleveland hasn’t seen since its quarterback wore #19.

Image: Fox

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