QB Baker Mayfield (12.16.20)

QB Baker Mayfield:

On if he has crossed paths with NY Giants Head Coach Joe Judge, given how fired up Judge was talking about his competitive spirit today, including accidentally saying an expletive: 

“No, I have not. That is the kind of stuff I want to bring when you watch tape. You want to be able to feel that. I have told you guys that I want to be authentic and lead these guys. I am passionate about the game so I appreciate that.”

On rebounding with a strong performance from the interception on Monday night and if the ‘old Baker’ would have had a harder time doing that: 

“Maybe. I think it is hard to say definitely yes or no. I was just so angry about that and the drive right before halftime that they got points off of both things. Those are critical mistakes that you look back on that make a difference in the game.”

On the Browns’ sense of urgency with three games remaining in the season: 

“Every single game is the most important one. Obviously, like have I said, we have a big picture mindset, but the singular focus is just so vital right now to get into the postseason playoff race. We know we have to take care of business this week, and we are going to have that singular laser focus.”

On if as a Texas native he was ever a fan of the University of Texas growing up and NY Giants QB Colt McCoy, given McCoy could potentially start on Sunday night:

“I was never a Texas fan, but I did appreciate the way Colt played. He is a winner. There is no doubt about that. Everything he did for that program, obviously, being right in the backyard of it, I saw all of it. He is a winner. He led his team all of the time. I followed him closely because (Cowboys QB) Garrett Gilbert, who was with us and one of my friends, was Colt’s backup his freshman year. I have always respected Colt. He is a winner. He is a great guy.”

On if there is any similarity between the way he and McCoy play and their competitiveness: 

“I would say the playmaking ability, just making things happen. You look at some of his plays, there has not been anything there and he has created something. I think that is a similarity.”

On the NY Giants defense: 

“They just play extremely hard. They have won four of their last five, and they are playing great ball as a team right now. Taking care of the ball is the biggest difference in this game. They have guys in the back end that are great at getting the ball, finding it and hawking it down. We have to protect the ball, but they are just playing extremely hard as a unit and they are all on the same page.”

On RB Kareem Hunt as a receiver and Hunt’s catches on Monday night: 

“He can catch the ball extremely well. He has great hands. He can adjust to the ball while it is in the air much like a receiver can, which is very rare for running backs. The out-and-up he ran and caught it right down there by the end zone, that is not an easy catch to make. I know there were some plays on scramble drills and stuff earlier in the year that he has made. He is able to adjust the ball when it is in the air if it is not in the best place like back shoulders, just flip his hips and make plays. He is a great playmaker for us. Yeah, his receiving ability is a big part of our offense.”

On how strong protection from the Browns OL is making his job easier, given the team did not allow a sack for the fifth time this season against the Ravens:  

“I love those boys up front. We have great guys. One guy goes down, and the next guy steps up. We have a great group of men in there, and I appreciate them so much. For them to go out there and play a team like Baltimore who prides himself on bringing pressures, bringing blitzes, different packages and hitting home and hitting the quarterback a lot, for our guys to go out there, including the backs on that to protect me like that, it is unbelievable. We have a great group that is extremely focused and they play with each other right now.”

On the pride he takes in being able to help the Browns OL by scrambling when protection is not perfect: 

“Sometimes you have to do that because not every play is going to be perfect. Being able to do that and bail those guys out because they are protecting their asses off for me, it goes both ways. I am not trying to do too much. I am not trying to create plays, but sometimes when the play breaks down and I have to, that is a big part about just keeping the plays going and limiting those negative plays most importantly.”

On how much enjoyment he has when able to scramble for a first down or TD: 

“It is a part of the game that if teams want to really drop out and not stay disciplined in the rush lanes, I have to take advantage of that. There have been opportunities that I have not necessarily scrambled for, but that is something I need to continue to do is realize that they can be an important part of our offense.”

On if he thought Head Coach Kevin Stefanski could take the Browns this far in the first year when Stefanski was hired: 

“I do, just from the first time I met with him. We hit on this earlier in the season right around training camp when he came down Austin and we met for the first time. Just everything that he was about and my conversations that I had with our (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and) General Manager Andrew Berry, as well, and just how on the same page they were, which was new to me. That was a comforting feeling. You knew the potential was there. Nobody said it was going to be easy, and we are still getting better. Like I said, that is the best part is we are continuing to improve as this goes on. We have laid a foundation and we need to continue to build and reset that standard.”

On if there were times last year when he thought the Browns were going to get over the hump: 

“There were a lot of ups and downs, but not to reiterate on last year, we have talked about it. It was a roller coaster.”

On what the NY Giants do to disguise their coverage well and how much better he has become at combatting it: 

“When you play a team like this that disguises their coverages well – they will show a one-high and bail out to two shell or really give every key away that you think they are playing Cover 2 and they will drop into a single-high coverage late – it is just about having eye discipline. Not only me but for some of these receivers if you have route adjustments when it comes to having specific coverages, it is about being disciplined and seeing the post-snap stuff back there and just reacting to it. It is going through your reads, trusting your eyes, seeing it and not getting fooled.”

On if he has improved on reading coverages from the beginning of the season: 

“That is part of it. Just trusting my eyes and going through my reads, not selling out to throw one ball but reacting to coverages and moving through those progressions.”

On a recent interview revealing that his post-game pop culture references are part of a bet in the QB room and if it is over now: 

“No, I just can’t say anything after a loss. That is not fun.”

On how big of a game this would have been for WR Odell Beckham Jr. facing his former team and if the Browns will channel any of that for Beckham: 

“I am going to talk to him this week for sure. Like you said, this one would mean a ton to him. Not necessarily in a revenge way, but whenever you play a team that you are familiar with – I had the same thing in college going back and playing Texas Tech – it means a lot to you. We are going to play for him because he is one of our guys so we need to do that.”

On if he has had the chance to watch Jones and how Jones has played this season:

“I think because we are playing their division this year and seeing more of his stuff on tape just from studying our film. I think he is doing a great job, I really do. Giving his guys chances. Putting them in a position to win. Like we talked about earlier about using my legs to move to first down and move the markers, he does such a great job of doing that. When he wants to tuck it and run, he can move. Now, I do not know about the finishing part when he tripped up to the 5-yard line (laughter), but he can move.”

On how Stefanski and offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt have helped him get his swagger and confidence back this season and embraced it, particularly after the bye week:

“You said it, it was back to the bye week. It was conversations that we had to be able to kind of evaluate where we were as an offense and what we were doing well and what we were not doing well. Those conversations that we were able to go through of how I am seeing it and just the things that we missed in an offseason with no preseason games, vital conversations that we were able to get even more on the same page. I think we are seeing that now. You are right, playing with confidence is where I am at my best. Trusting these calls, trusting my eyes and going through it and trusting my guys around me.”

On how he prepares mentally and physically for Sunday Night Football after a tough game on Monday night and short week of preparation:

“Physically, the shorter weeks are always tougher, but that makes it… Coaches always make it easier for you in practice. You do more mental work so you make up ground with a shorter week when it comes to that when you are also saving your legs and your body at the same time. You have to be a professional. You have to take care of your body, do your rehab and all of the necessary things. The mental side of it, you really have to be locked in. It is just like you said, a shorter week.”

On the source of his confidence in trusting a rookie WR Donovan Peoples-Jones: 

“It goes back to when he came down to Austin. The skill group came down to throw. Just trusting him. He is all about his business. He shows up and does his job. He wants to be coached. He wants that tough love. He wants that because he is striving to be better, and you can see that. He is a quiet guy, but you appreciate that.”

On how much Stefanski is to credit for the Browns’ 9-4 record: 

“We did a lot in the offseason virtually. Nobody wants to have to install a whole new system offense and defense through Zoom meetings, but what he did to keep everybody on track was extremely fundamental in our success right now. He laid the foundation. The conversations that you miss out with your teammates to get to know everybody in the offseason, we did a thing called the 4Hs where you list your hopes, heroes, heartbreaks [and history]. We just went through it, and you got to know somebody without actually being there, which means a lot because then you build the foundation for a team that you want to play for. You want play for these guys around you, and you want to fight for them. It was not only players; we did staff members, as well. A lot of the new players because we do have a very new group of guys, but they got to know everybody quickly because of that where if he did not handle it that way, I do not think we would be here right now.”

On his conversation with Stefanski after the interception last week: 

“He is the type of guy that he always wants to take the blame. We just had a straight up conversation, and he said it was my bad I said it was my bad. We have to move on and the most important play is the next one. It is just a very clear-cut relationship and open line of communication.”

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