QB Baker Mayfield (12.23.20)

QB Baker Mayfield:

On if the Browns have to guard against external distractions with the positive national attention the team and he are receiving: 

“I would say yes, but this team did not listen to it when everybody threw us in the trash so no.”

On remaining focused on the NY Jets this week when there is a potential for a Week 17 matchup against the Steelers for the AFC North title: 

“It goes back to the stuff that I mentioned about a singular focus, one week at a time. If we handle our business – I know I said this weeks ago – we will be where we want to be. We can’t control whatever happens. Obviously, we know what is going on on the outside, but we just have to take care of business this week.”

On Head Coach Kevin Stefanski saying the NY Jets are better than their record shows and what he has seen from the NY Jets defense: 

“They play really hard to be honest with you. Up front, I know (NY Jets DL Quinnen) Williams is out, but they are pretty stout up front. They are different than the Giants front. The Giants have some bigger guys and some anchors. These guys are a little bit more speed rushers and powerful. They play really hard. They fly to the ball. You can tell that they want to bully you and they want to play physical ball. It was very apparent when you put on the Rams tape.”

On if there is any advantage playing at MetLife Stadium in back-to-back weeks: 

“A little bit. We know how we have to handle it with no fans and the quietness of the stadium. Just go in there with that same mentality. It is us against them, and we each just have to do our job.”

On his state of mind this holiday season: 

“It has been a tough year on everyone and been extremely different. A lot of ups and downs and trials and tribulations that everybody has had to deal with, but I will just be thankful for family. I know I can’t exactly get with them and be all together, but just blessed and thankful that my family has been safe, and continuing to pray for those outside of my family that are dealing with issues, sickness and all of that that is going on in the world. It has been a tough year. Just having a little quiet time at the house is going to be great and just to make this extended push because this will be the first time that I am not planning offseason trips as soon as New Year’s Day hits. It is a different year all around. Just taking it one day at a time quite honestly.”

On if he senses the joy that the Browns are bringing to the City of Cleveland and Browns fans this holiday season: 

“In some ways, yes. In others, no. It is obviously not the typical year. With protocol, you can’t go out to restaurants and hang out and be around the town. Obviously, there is no tailgating and not as many fans at our home games. It is just different. You can kind of sense it, but I do not think it is the full effect.”

On how much C JC Tretter and G Joel Bitonio have meant to him and the Browns OL this season and how important their consistency has meant to him the past three seasons: 

“Having familiar faces is always great because you have that open line of communication and some things are just understood where you do not have to speak on it. They lead that room. They are smart players. Very different but both good players. JC obviously getting everybody lined up and making the calls, and Joel is the more vocal leader, shall I say. They just do a good job of continuing to do that. It is the whole offensive line, though. (G) Wyatt Teller has been down, (T) Chris Hubbard steps in and unfortunately, gets hurt and then (C) Nick Harris steps up. (T) Kendall Lamm has come in for snaps when (T) Jack Conklin has gone down or (T) Jedrick (Wills Jr.). That whole group, they are really playing for each other and playing for this team, and I truly do appreciate every single one of them.”

On his time in the pocket increasing by almost one half of a second this season and how important that extra time has benefited his comfort in the pocket: 

“That is a pretty analytical stat. You talk about some of the play action, the rollouts and the set-up deep shots, that just goes for our whole offense being on the same page, establishing the run game and being able to format things and make our pass game look like our run game so we can hold on to the ball longer and teams can’t tee off on us when we have our cadence mixed up. It is just the whole offensive thing. Obviously, the offensive line and protection is great for the drop-back game.”

On how much he feels for Hubbard after being placed on IR and what Hubbard has meant to the team this season:

“Hub is a guy who I do not think anybody would have a bad thing to say about him. That is the truth. He is a great team guy, a good family man, a great leader and just truly works his ass off. You never want to see that. You do not want to see that happen to anybody, but it especially hurts when it is a guy like that. A team player, stepped up and played multiple positions for us and has done a lot of things. Just a great representation of this franchise. I hate that for him, but when we talked, he is going to come back stronger. There is no doubt about that.”

On C Nick Harris’ play at RG when filling in for Hubbard last week and the confidence level in Harris this week with G Wyatt Teller likely out:

“For a guy who really did not get any reps at guard to come in and play like that but then be able to do the job where he is not exactly practicing those reps – he is practicing center techniques and different essential mechanics on each play – to be able to reframe his mind in the middle of the game and be able to do that, it takes a lot. That is not to go understated. We are very proud of Nick. It is good experience, and if he keeps building, it will only help him more.”

On if he would say his performance from this year to last year is ‘night and day,’ given his comment that comparing the team’s performance is ‘night and day’:

“Obviously, not turning the ball over helps. Eliminated a lot of negative plays. I said my job is to get the ball out quickly and get it to the playmakers and put us in position to win. Yeah, there are a lot of differences, that is for sure.”

On if it is easier to be himself this year and be the same through the highs and the lows:

“That is something that I tried to learn early on. Obviously, I was not able to do that last year, but that is very important. You do not want to change. You want to be the same leader each day. I saw a quote of somebody from Tampa talking about (Buccaneers QB) Tom Brady that it does not matter how good he is playing or if it is not going well, he is always the same person. That is important to be a leader. During the good stuff, they are always looking up at you. During the bad stuff, they are going to look at you, as well. It is key to find that medium.”

On if he has discovered anything that makes his job better or easier this year amid the COVID-19 protocols:

“I would just say with all of the schedule changes and everything, we have become extremely adaptable. When adversity hits or if something changes and you are not expecting it, we do not flinch. That is pretty key for us when it comes to game situations that you do not flinch, you just move on to the next thing and that is always the most important.”

On clearly stating he wanted to be in Cleveland prior to being drafted by the Browns and if that feeling has evolved at all during the past three years, including with the team’s and his success this season, given his current contract situation:

“I said it a few weeks ago, growing up in Texas in an extremely football town, going to Oklahoma – obviously, it is a football state, as well – and then coming here, it feels like home. I am worried about Sunday against the Jets. I think everything happens for a reason. I am not going to be able to control that so one day at a time.”

On if he listens to Christmas music or only TLC:

“Big Christmas music guy.”

On his favorite type of Christmas music:

“I am old school. I am Nat King Cole guy. TLC is pretty good, too (laughter).”

On if he keeps in touch with NY Jets QB Sam Darnold since they were in the same draft class and if he feels for what Darnold may be experiencing during a tough year:

“The ups and down of the past almost three years now of taking that step from college to the NFL, I definitely feel for what Sam is going through and has gone through. I am not in his shoes so I know I am not there for the day-to-day stuff, but I know the responsibility and pressure that he is under. You feel for him. You want it to work out. You do not want somebody to do any ill will – it is just bad karma – but Sam is a good guy, and I hope for the best for him.”

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