Week 6 Previews: Can the Browns Win with Baker Mayfield?

Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield
Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

Arizona Cardinals at Cleveland Browns, Sunday, 4:05 p.m.

It's six weeks into Baker Mayfield's contract season. Do you have any idea how he's doing?

Before you answer, let's examine the evidence.

  • Mayfield ranks 15th in both DVOA and DYAR, with an above-average DVOA of 6.2%. Just fine, but hardly the sort of triumphant arrival among the league's top quarterbacks that screams "Here! Take our $150 million!"
  • Mayfield is playing through a bum non-throwing shoulder and throwing to a depleted wide receiver corps, two factors which suggest that he is a better quarterback than his stats currently indicate.
  • Mayfield is supported by the league's best running game. The Browns not only rank first in overall rushing but first in second-down rushing and second in third-down rushing, meaning they aren't as reliant on their passing game on second-and-9 or third-and-3 as most teams. That has allowed them to build a large percentage of their passing game around screens and rollout concepts. Therefore, Mayfield might be a less effective quarterback than his stats currently indicate.
  • The Browns scored 42 points last week, so Mayfield must be doing something right.
  • Mayfield is so reliant on his short over-the-middle game that it took the Browns one minute and four seconds to move 21 yards when they needed a touchdown on their final drive. It's hard to argue that he's doing enough right to get the Browns past their toughest opponents.
  • But then, maybe Mayfield is only reliant on short passes between the numbers because his shoulder is hurt and his receiving corps is weak.

We can go around and around on this. Based on Walkthrough's Twitter feed, Browns fans are doing just that.

It's inevitable that the Browns must give Mayfield some type of $40-million-per-year contract; the alternatives make for fun comment-thread thought experiments but terrible management decisions. The issue isn't whether the Browns should "Pay the Man" but whether or not they will regret it. So far, the 2021 season has offered neither reassurance that Mayfield is slow-cooking into Drew Brees nor enough indicators that he will max out around Jared Goff to give the Browns front office genuine pause.

That's one of the reasons this game is so important. A loss to the Cardinals would not ruin the Browns' 2021 season. There are lots of welterweights such as the Steelers, Broncos, and Patriots on the schedule for them to steamroll in the next few weeks. But Mayfield and the Browns simply must win games like this one to prove that the Browns are headed in the right direction before Mayfield starts eating up over 15% of the cap.

No, Walkthrough is not trucking in unscientific QB WINZ reasoning. All the evidence right now suggests that the Browns are a middle-of-the-pack team with a middle-of-the-pack quarterback. A win by the Browns and/or a truly great game by Mayfield on Sunday would provide the first real evidence we have this year to the contrary.

The Cardinals are three-point road dogs, a sign that the house and public still smell a pretender. They feel due for a course-correction game, but we just flirted with QB WINZ, so we aren't even going to touch the Gambler's Fallacy. Those three points don't amount to much, so Walkthrough is taking the Cardinals straight-up with a +150 moneyline instead. And we'll check back in on Mayfield and the Browns went they do more than beat weaker teams and achieve moral victories against tougher ones. Cardinals 28, Browns 24.

Los Angeles Chargers at Baltimore Ravens, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Walkthrough has solved the mystery of the Chargers' low DVOA rankings!

For those of you who just read Walkthrough for the Urban Meyer yuks and don't follow all the inside-baseball football analysis at Football Outsiders: the Chargers' DVOA rating was shockingly low after the team upset the Kansas City Chiefs to go 2-1. The Chargers are now slowly climbing up the charts, but they're still 11th overall, below the 2-3 49ers and Seahawks. Does DVOA hate the Chargers? Has it uncovered some super-secret flaw? Did we forget to carry a two?

Nope. The Chargers offense just wasn't very good early in the season but has rapidly improved each week.

Here are the Chargers' week-by-week offensive DVOA figures:

Week Opponent Offensive
1 WAS -11.3%
2 DAL 0.4%
3 KC 4.5%
4 LV 23.9%
5 CLE 50.4%

When the Chargers scored 20 points in the season opener against Washington, many of us interpreted it as a semi-impressive performance against a great defense. Now that Washington has allowed 29 points to the Giants and 30 to the Falcons, it's clear that their defense is actually below average. Therefore, the Chargers offense must also have been below average in week 1, as DVOA suggests.

The Chargers moved up and down the field against the Cowboys but lost because of red zone mistakes. Well, the Eagles move up and down the field but fail in the red zone all the time this year, and the Panthers did so last year. An offense with a red zone problem is an offense with a real problem, so DVOA was not impressed with the Chargers in Week 2.

The Chargers beat the Chiefs with the help of four turnovers. It was a fine performance against a lousy defense, and DVOA interpreted it as a little bit above average. The Chargers offense has been excellent over the last two weeks, and while that retroactively impacts our perceptions of how they played in September, it doesn't go back and improve their statistics or put points on the scoreboard against the Cowboys.

The Chargers also rank 29th in special teams DVOA, mostly because of four missed extra points and minimal production from their return game. A missed extra point nearly cost the Chargers a win in last week's shootout with the Browns, so a real deficiency in the kicking game cannot be overlooked.

Finally, and most critically this week, the Chargers run defense ranks 31st in DVOA. There are no secrets in the numbers here; they allowed 198 rushing yards to the Cowboys, 186 to the Chiefs, and 230 to the Browns.

The Chargers used a seven-defensive back package to hold Lamar Jackson and the Ravens to 90 rushing yards in the 2018 playoffs, but that might as well have happened in 1961. The Colts appeared to be focused on stopping the run on Monday night, and Jackson just shifted gears and torched them through the air.

The Chargers will climb past the 49ers and Seahawks on the DVOA rankings soon enough. More importantly, they have earned their place in the AFC playoff chase group behind the Bills. But even with their offense surging, their shortcomings will keep them behind the Ravens for a little while longer. Ravens 33, Chargers 31.

Miami Dolphins vs. Jacksonville Jaguars, Sunday, 9:30 a.m.

Leftenant Tua Tagovailoa (not a captain, now in England) may return for this game. Urban Meyer may be fired if he loses this game. And Walkthrough is just looking for a little Sunday brunch action! The Jaguars' first-quarter offense ranks sixth in DVOA, and they have played most opponents strong early in the game. Meanwhile, the Dolphins have been outscored 44-3 in the second quarter. So we're taking the Jaguars to lead at halftime with a moneyline payout of +135. After that, both teams can stay in England for all we care. Dolphins 23, Jaguars 22.

Minnesota Vikings at Carolina Panthers, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Hope you didn't place any Comeback Player of the Year wagers on Sam Darnold, dear readers! Darnold has thrown five interceptions in his last two games and now has a higher interception rate (3.3%) than he had with the Jets in 2019 and 2020. And the neither the Cowboys nor Eagles defense is exactly the Legion of Boom. Darnold just hasn't been able to squat on leads against helpless opponents for the entire game over the last two weeks like he did for most of September.

Yes, Christian McCaffrey's absence has contributed to Darnold's decline. But if a running back injury has that great an impact on an entire offense, that's probably a sign that the offense isn't as sturdy as it looked against the Jets or Texans. McCaffrey is "50-50" to play this week. Dalvin Cook has been practicing but is probably out: it's a discouraging sign when the team's website is being coy about a player's status. But the Vikings have proven they can do their thing, such as it is, with Alexander Mattison. Running backs aren't supposed to matter all that much, etc.

The Panthers will lose their middleweight contender status with a loss. The Vikings can regain theirs with a win. We won't know the result of this low-scoring underachievement-fest until the end-of-game field goal attempt. Panthers 22, Vikings 21.

Green Bay Packers at Chicago Bears, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Backup guard Alex Bars played 17 snaps for the Bears as a de facto tight end, even going in motion as an H-back a few times. Bars was pressed into service because actual tight ends Jesse James and J.P. Holtz were hurt, but that still left Cole Kmet and Jimmy Graham. You remember Graham, right? The five-time Pro Bowler with a $16-million contract? He played just 25 of 64 offensive snaps against the Raiders, many of them as a slot receiver.

In other words, Matt Nagy's idea of a crackerjack personnel package for Justin Fields is to give him the fewest possible offensive weapons. In fairness, it worked against the Raiders and Lions, teams that were helpless against the Bears defense. It won't work this week.

Matt LaFleur fell back on the old "stats are for losers" boilerplate when asked about the Packers' red zone issues (they are 25th in DVOA). Yeah, Coach, you'll be cozying up to the stat community soon enough once your quarterback decides to sandbag you. Packers 27, Bears 13.

Cincinnati Bengals at Detroit Lions, Sunday, 1 p.m.

How this game will go:

  • Joe Burrow to Ja'Marr Chase: 60-yard touchdown.
  • 70-yard Lions field goal drive of 12 rushing plays and a screen to T.J. Hockensen.
  • Burrow drilled while attempting a 60-yard touchdown pass to Chase; Lions interception.
  • 73-yard Lions field goal drive of 12 rushing plays and a screen to D'Andre Smith.
  • Zac Taylor sends Burrow to the parking lot to retrieve his playbook on fourth-and-2. Burrow is surrounded by 1970s bikers and stabbed in the throat with a tire iron. Burrow limps back onto the field and runs a quarterback draw for a first down that's negated by holding. The Bengals punt.
  • Jared Goff fumbles due to a gentle breeze. The Bengals get the ball at the Lions' 20-yard line with 40 seconds left and two timeouts, but Taylor decides trying to score is too risky and takes multiple delay-of-game penalties to run out the half.
  • Halftime: emergency Burrow tracheotomy with a Tom Mix penknife.
  • Burrow to Chase: 60-yard touchdown.
  • Goff manufactures two scoring drives to give the Lions a two-point lead by relying on wide receivers Babylonia St. Cuthbert, Threnady Jones, Josephus of Antioch, and obscure X-Men villain Cameron Hodge.
  • Burrow hits Tee Higgins (Chase was triple-covered) to set up a game-winning 55-yard field goal with three seconds left. Evan McPherson's kick clangs off the front upright but is blown good by the same breeze that forced Goff to fumble.
  • Dan Campbell slams a fifth of bourbon on the podium at his postgame press conference and growls Tom Waits lyrics at the media for 20 solid minutes, earning the respect of both his players and the 1970s bikers in the parking lot. Bengals 24, Lions 23.

Houston Texans at Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, 1 p.m.

No force on earth, not even the fact that Walkthrough covered the Texans in Wednesday's Tank Watch and is trying to trim our word counts, is powerful enough to stop the Carson Wentz Victimization Index!

  • People are saying nice things about me after Monday night's performance! -10%
  • Even Philly media people! -20%
  • That's right folks: your buddy Carson is playing great football but being BETRAYED by his defense and special teams: 30%
  • OK, "betrayed" is too strong a term, since the defense stopped Lamar Jackson for the whole first half and recovered a fumble at the goal line: 5%
  • And "great football" might be too strong a term, because I fumbled, had a two-point conversion intercepted, got sacked out of field goal range, and got my two touchdown passes on a screen-and-run and an up-for-grabs wobbler while I was getting hit: 10%
  • But if you blame me for the Colts being 1-4, just because I'm barely hovering above replacement level after two of my best games in three years, then you're just being a hater: 10%

Total Victimization: 25%. Low enough to beat the Texans. And perhaps only the Texans. Colts 27, Texans 14.

Los Angeles Rams at New York Giants, Sunday, 1 p.m.

Walkthrough covered the Rams in some detail in Thursday's Leaderboard of the Week. The Giants have returned to their steady state of waiting for Saquon Barkley to return from his latest injury and pretending that everything will start getting better as soon as that happens. Rams 31, Giants 17.

Kansas City Chiefs at Washington Football Team, Sunday, 4:05 p.m.

A working theory on what's wrong with Washington's defense this season: it was never all that great last year.

Washington built its No. 2 ranking in pass defense DVOA last year atop lots of Andy Dalton/Ben DiNucci, Carson Wentz/Jalen Hurts/Nate Sudfeld, Daniel Jones, Nick Mullens, and Joe Burrow (with no blocking)/Ryan Finley. Stronger opponents such as the Rams and Ravens spent the fourth quarters of their wins munching the clock, which suppresses passing stats. Matthew Stafford threw three touchdowns in a win over Washington with Kenny Golladay injured and half the roster in quit mode. So the 2020 WFT weren't exactly the 1985 Bears, but their defense somehow achieved mythic proportions in the offseason, in part because of Chase Young's excellence, but also because so many of us were trying to make sense of what they were doing on offense.

A weaker-than-advertised defense and a banged-up, fits-and-starts Washington offense are the perfect prescriptions for what ails the Chiefs. Chiefs 27, Washington 21.

Las Vegas Raiders at Denver Broncos, Sunday, 4:25 p.m.

The closest comparison we can think of for what the Raiders are going through this week is the Dolphins Bullygate scandal back in 2015. Joe Philbin and others were fired amid the sort of national turmoil that's impossible to just "tune out." Dan Campbell came in and led the Dolphins to two quick wins, including a 38-10 pummeling of the Tennessee Titans.

There were many key differences between those Dolphins and these Raiders, of course: the Dolphins used the bye week to lower the simmer on the Bullygate story, and Jon Gruden was probably much more of a hands-on offensive tactician than Philbin. On the other hand, Bullygate involved day-to-day events in the Dolphins locker room as opposed to old emails and resulted in some on-field changes. Therefore it was probably much more of a "distraction" for the players than the Gruden saga.

The Raiders were probably already beginning a swan dive. Gruden's resignation will only hasten it. If we're wrong, Rich Bisaccia will be hailed as a genius for playing Metallica in the weight room and end up coaching the Lions in three years. Broncos 26, Raiders 16.

Dallas Cowboys at New England Patriots, Sunday, 4:25 p.m.

Guard Shaq Mason returned to practice this week, so the injury-ravaged Patriots offensive line will be slightly sturdier than it was against Houston. The Cowboys pass rush isn't much of a threat, but the Patriots must be wary of creating game plans that smother Poised Mac Jones with his own pillows. The Patriots have been outscored 21-10 in the first quarter, while the Cowboys outscore opponents 45-27. The Cowboys are not the Texans and will not quit once they're ahead.

And since you asked: the first-quarter spread is Cowboys -1 (+105), and Walkthrough played it. Cowboys 28, Patriots 20.

Seattle Seahawks at Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, 8:20 p.m.

The greatest game of Geno Smith's career was probably a 30-28 Jets victory over the Atlanta Falcons in October of 2013. Smith threw three touchdowns and committed no turnovers in that game, leading the Jets on a last-second field goal drive. Smith had one other three-touchdown passing day in a victory over the Dolphins in December of 2014 and a three-total-touchdown (two passing, one rushing) effort in a 24-13 victory over the Browns in December of 2013.

After a handful of forgotten wins from the late Rex Ryan era, the pickings for impressive Geno performances become mighty slim. His boxscore stats from the ill-fated Eli Manning benching (21-of-34, 212 yards, one touchdown) look decent enough, but Smith lost a pair of fumbles, and the Giants offense spent most of that 24-17 loss to the Raiders going three-and-out.

It's worth noting that Geno had positive rushing DVOA in 2013 but negative rushing DYAR and DVOA in 2014, both due to fumbles and low yards per carry. He can move, but it's hard to imagine that he has become more of an asset as a rusher after rusting on the bench for most of the last half decade.

Still, the urge to wager on a competent (???) backup in his first start of the season remains overpowering, especially with +5.5 wiggle room. Also, a dueling points-off-turnovers showdown is possibly in play. So it's Same Game Parlay time! Seahawks +5.5 AND Over 42.5 at +265. Regrets are for the timid. Seahawks 26, Steelers 20.

Buffalo Bills at Tennessee Titans, Monday, 8:15 p.m.

Derrick Henry is on pace for 483 carries this season. That would smash the all-time record set by Larry Johnson in 2006 by 67 carries. The 17-game schedule is a factor, but Henry would be on pace for 454 carries in a 16-game season, blowing past Johnson's record of 416 carries.

You may be expecting a lecture about the Curse of 370 and running back sustainability right now. But screw it. Let a million flowers bloom! Henry may well be an Eric Dickerson-level historic talent for whom the laws of physics do not apply. But the Titans should at least consider cutting down on Henry's fourth-quarter carries in lopsided victories. Henry rushed 10 times with the Titans leading by two scores in the fourth quarter against the Jaguars in Week 5. It's one thing to ask him to pound out yards when the game remains somewhat close, as he did against the Colts. It's another to use him as a stump-grinder in situations where a replacement-level back could at least soak up some of the carries.

None of this matters on Monday night. The Bills are going to roll all over the Titans, making Henry a non-factor early. Frankly, he could use the rest. Bills 34, Titans 21.


49 comments, Last at 17 Oct 2021, 7:10pm

#1 by Pat // Oct 15, 2021 - 10:24am

It's six weeks into Baker Mayfield's contract season. Do you have any idea how he's doing?

Sorry, why do you think it's Baker Mayfield's contract season? It's his 4th year. The Browns exercised his 5th year option (2022). He's under contract with the Browns for a guaranteed ~$19M next year.

Points: 0

#3 by serutan // Oct 15, 2021 - 11:04am

It's true that  Mayfield's contract doesn't expire until after next season, but 1st round rookie QBs usually get contract #2 after year 4 so it's a "contract year" in terms getting negotiating leverage.

Points: 0

#6 by Pat // Oct 15, 2021 - 12:54pm

In terms of the Browns getting him for cheap, it'd be best for him to play well this year. But in terms of Mayfield getting the most money overall, this year is almost immaterial. Next year's the year he has to play awesome.

The money next year's totally guaranteed. Maybe the Browns trade him next year because they don't think he'd be worth it in the future, but if he plays awesome for whatever team he's traded to, he'll be getting a $35-40M contract anyway.

Points: 0

#10 by Mike Tanier // Oct 15, 2021 - 1:36pm

Feel pretty certain that Mayfield will not play on that 5th year extension. The risk of him reaching free agency is not one that the Browns will want to take. And playing Franchise Tag Bingo does not work with QBs. 

Points: 0

#15 by Pat // Oct 15, 2021 - 2:08pm

The risk of him reaching free agency is not one that the Browns will want to take.

Why...? Worked out well for the Ravens, for all that people want to trash the Flacco deal. Won 'em a Super Bowl.

I'd absolutely take a gentleman's bet on the Browns and Mayfield. If Mayfield's play doesn't improve and he won't take less than a $40M/yr extension, they absolutely would let him play and prove it.

Points: 0

#16 by Eddo // Oct 15, 2021 - 2:21pm

I feel like that's a pretty tenuous assertion.  I know there's evidence guys play better in contract years, but with Flacco it was that he played amazingly in the playoffs, specifically.  I have a hard time believing his contract year was the cause.

Points: 0

#19 by Pat // Oct 15, 2021 - 2:55pm

I mean, in some sense the causality of it is immaterial - the Ravens waited to extend him, and had he not performed well that year they might've moved on (which would've been the right move anyway). The only reason it didn't result in the right decision is that he played awesome and won a Super Bowl. In other words, I guess I'm saying the thought process is "might as well wait, worst case is that he kicks ass next year, which is a perfectly fine problem to have."

I don't understand why Mayfield wouldn't play under it. It'd increase his total NFL earnings by 50%. Jameis Winston did. It's friggin' 40% of the total amount of money he ever earned in the NFL!

Points: 0

#22 by Jim C. // Oct 15, 2021 - 4:50pm

I live in Baltimore.  If I recall correctly, the Ravens were very eager to extend Flacco before the 2012 season, but Flacco wouldn't sign, preferring to bet on himself.  I'm not sure that situation brings much to bear on Mayfield and the Browns.

Points: 0

#29 by Pat // Oct 15, 2021 - 6:46pm

In reply to by Jim C.

I'm not sure that situation brings much to bear on Mayfield and the Browns.

I dunno, I think that's exactly the situation that Mayfield and the Browns are in.

I'm so not understanding why people think it's different. Right now I'd bet the Browns are talking about a 4-year, $120M extension (meaning $138M over 5 years, a ~$28M/yr average over 2022-2026, or the equivalent of ~$24M/yr next year, around 11% of the cap, flat) That's what I'd offer. It's absolutely solid value for the Browns: with decent contract structure you should be able to keep the percentages for Mayfield under 10% over the life of the contract with a reasonable dead hit.

This is very similar to the Raiders and Carr, the Titans and Tannehill, or Garoppolo and the 49ers.

And if I'm Mayfield, he's looking at either being either a 40M/yr QB if he plays well next year, or a 15M/yr short-term QB somewhere in 2023 if he plays average to poor. I don't see how it's not identical.

Points: 0

#32 by Jim C. // Oct 15, 2021 - 9:32pm

Sorry if I misunderstood your point, but when you said "the Ravens waited to extend him", I thought you meant that the waiting was the Ravens' decision.  It absolutely wasn't.  They were fully sold on Flacco and wanted him under a long-term contract, but he just wouldn't sign.

By the way, as a Ravens fan and with the full  benefit of hindsight, I have no regrets about that situation.  Go to any fan base in the NFL and ask them if they'd be willing to accept a crippling contract in exchange for a Super Bowl victory.  What fan base would say no?

Points: 0

#48 by Pat // Oct 16, 2021 - 4:52pm

They were fully sold on Flacco and wanted him under a long-term contract, but he just wouldn't sign.

At the price they were offering. Mayfield is absolutely worth a starting-level contract right now, just not at the top-end point. I'm sure the Browns are totally willing to offer him a contract, just not a top-end one. Same situation.

Points: 0

#24 by Tracy // Oct 15, 2021 - 4:54pm

Of course Mayfield would play under the 5th year option. But if Mayfield isn't under contract in 2023, there's just no way John Dorsey keeps his job, barring some weird career ending injury or DeShaun Watson level personal conduct. If they can't get an extension done next offseason, they're gonna end up paying north of $75mm for a pair of franchise tags in 2023/2024, and that's just untenable for a Browns team trying to convince their fan base that they're serious about competing. At some point it no longer matters whether you think it's likely that the contract will return value. If it goes badly, the current front office will be out, and somebody else will be brought in to blow the whole thing up and try again. This front office has to play this hand, though, and hope it works out.

Points: 0

#25 by IlluminatusUIUC // Oct 15, 2021 - 5:06pm

But if Mayfield isn't under contract in 2023, there's just no way John Dorsey keeps his job

That would be exceedingly harsh, considering John Dorsey already lost his Browns job two years ago.

Points: 0

#30 by Pat // Oct 15, 2021 - 6:48pm

they're gonna end up paying north of $75mm for a pair of franchise tags in 2023/2024

Oh, god, you don't tag him twice. The tag in '23 is likely to still be reasonable ($30-35M ish) and definitely by that point you'd know what the state of your team is over the next years.

Points: 0

#35 by LionInAZ // Oct 15, 2021 - 11:40pm

Nobody puts the franchise tag on a quarterback. Only two QBs have ever played while on the tag. Both signed with other teams the following year. The vast majority of teams extend the QB contract after the 4th year if they intend to retain him.

Points: 0

#39 by Vincent Verhei // Oct 16, 2021 - 12:15am

Dak Prescott played on the franchise tag in 2020, broke his ankle, then signed a giant new contract with Dallas in 2021.

And to be annoyingly pedantic, Kirk Cousins played on the franchise tag for Washington in both 2016 and 2017, then signed with Minnesota in 2018.

Points: 0

#47 by Pat // Oct 16, 2021 - 4:47pm

The vast majority of teams extend the QB contract after the 4th year if they intend to retain him.

Um. Yes? Isn't the entire point here that the Browns don't necessarily want to retain him? Especially at the price he might be asking?

Points: 0

#2 by Bob Smith // Oct 15, 2021 - 10:53am

I guess it is a somewhat BIG game-for the Regular Season. But the better question is the same question that we wonder about with all quarterbacks-can he win a big game in the playoffs??                                                                                                                                                                                                                         Can he win a championship game in the playoffs-Conference or League Championship? Can he win the games in the playoffs when his teammates are counting on him more than ever to play good enough to help them win a Ring of some kind.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           As a franchise QB we somewhat take for granted that he will play good enough to help his team make it to the playoffs a majority of the time and this year while 10-7 might be enough, that leaves a lot of room for error. But there is never room for much error in the playoffs.

Points: 0

#5 by jheidelberg // Oct 15, 2021 - 12:34pm

Like so many before him, the answer is no, until he does.  Peyton Manning could not win the big game, until he did.  He even won his second Super Bowl when he was no longer a good QB.  

The Cleveland Browns will play a large roll in Baker Mayfield winning "the big game" or for that matter any game at all.  It appears to me that you can win a lot of games, big and small with Baker Mayfield, but you can also lose a lot of games with him as QB, it depends upon the circumstances.  Right now he has a good situation in Cleveland.

Eli Manning and Joe Flacco were both mediocre QB's with great postseason records.

Dan Marino was a great QB, with poor postseason play.

What we know for now is that Mayfield is no Brady, Peyton Manning, Rodgers, Brees, Wilson, etc.  The future can change that narrative but he certainly does not seem to be on that trajectory. 

Points: 0

#31 by DIVISION // Oct 15, 2021 - 7:03pm

I don't see any progression in Mayfield's game at this point.  He is the same QB he has been from two years ago.  I think he's a mediocre to good QB but nothing close to elite.  I suppose the Browns could get to the AFCG with him, but they aren't winning SB's with Baker.

Even in optimal situations, I don't trust Baker to make the right decisions.  That INT to close out the Chiefs game is the delineation between good and great for me.  Baker can be part of a team that gets in to the playoffs, but what then?   He's not carrying a team and he could be the weakest link.

I think he'll end up being better for the Browns than the Brady Quinns and Derek Andersons of the world, but not what he needs to be.


Points: 0

#34 by Bob Smith // Oct 15, 2021 - 11:15pm

jheidelberg-that is interesting that you use Eli Manning, Flacco, and Marino like that in your post. Interesting in this way-Marino has an old quote that goes like this-"I'd trade every Record we broke to be Super Bowl Champs".                                      So if you would ask Marino to rank these 3 QB's he would say Eli achieved our goal as QB's twice, Flacco achieved our goal as QB's once, and I failed to ever reach my main goal as an NFL QB.                                                                               That is how a record-breaking QB  like Marino looked at it based on what he said.

Points: 0

#36 by LionInAZ // Oct 15, 2021 - 11:45pm

That's fine, but no one would argue that E Manning or Flacco were better than Marino. Marino was a victim of the fact that football is a team sport.

Points: 0

#37 by Bob Smith // Oct 15, 2021 - 11:50pm

Here is how Marino played in his 3 championship game LOSSES-he had 4 TD's but 6 INT's and 2 fumbles, a Comp.% UNDER 50%, an avg. Passer Rating UNDER 60, and he led his offense to an avg.of only 12 p.p.g. How can a TEAM win championships when their QB is playing like that ??

Points: 0

#40 by LionInAZ // Oct 16, 2021 - 12:18am

Stat lines don't tell everything. I do know that at least two of those INTs were in the end zone, that at least one potential TD was dropped by a receiver, so he was getting the team into position to score. It didn't that other Miami players fumbled in their own end of the field, and playing against the Bruce Smith era Bills defence was no piece of cake.

We also know that Marino rarely benefited from even a mediocre defense, let alone the outstanding ones that allowed middling QBs like Eli and Flacco win SBs.

Points: 0

#41 by Bob Smith // Oct 16, 2021 - 12:23am

Lincoln-yes, I will argue that Eli and Flacco were indeed better than Marino in their biggest games in their careers, in the games when their teammates were counting on each of them to play good enough to help them get a Ring of some kind.

Points: 0

#42 by jheidelberg // Oct 16, 2021 - 12:36am

Do you have Nick Foles over Marino also?  If so, maybe GB should bench Aaron Rodgers in the playoffs and pick up Foles who I would expect to be available at playoff time.  Maybe they should not wait, and trade for him now, just to make sure they have him in time for the "big" games.

Points: 0

#43 by Bob Smith // Oct 16, 2021 - 9:41am

I do not have anybody OVER anybody else on this thread we are discussing now. But, Marino would rank Foles as having reached his main goal as an NFL QB one time, while he would rank himself as never having reached his main goal as as an NFL QB.                                                                                                                             I explained all of this above using a Marino quote. If that is how a record-breaking QB looks at it, then that is good enough for me.                                                 When I say "reached his main goal as an NFL QB" it really means "he played good enough to help  himself and his TEAM reach their main goal". Dan did say he would trade the Records WE BROKE.                                                                 It mostly boils down to this-did a QB play good enough to help his team achieve their main goal of the year. Some did and a lot did not.

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#44 by Bob Smith // Oct 16, 2021 - 9:56am

In reply to by Bob Smith

Let me say this-it was very refreshing watching Marino play back in the day because he was the only QB that was allowed to throw the ball around 35 times a game until Bledsoe came along in '93 or '94.                                                                         Now guys are matching that all of the time and some of them throw it a little more than that on average. Back in the day Marino was the only one. Marino and Bledsoe are the only older guys still up there with the younger guys when you look at Career Avg. Pass Attempts Per Game.

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#4 by ImNewAroundThe… // Oct 15, 2021 - 11:05am

But it's mid season. No decision has to be made yet. Just keep playing him and testing him to see if he's truly it. Hopefully you find out when it's actually time.

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#7 by Joey-Harringto… // Oct 15, 2021 - 1:08pm

"73-yard Lions field goal drive of 12 rushing plays and a screen to D'Andre Smith."

Unless D'Andre Smith is an obscure Marvel villain I'm unaware of, I think you meant to say D'Andre Swift.

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#11 by Mike Tanier // Oct 15, 2021 - 1:37pm

LOL. Thanks! 

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#8 by jds // Oct 15, 2021 - 1:27pm

The Baker situation reminds me a lot of the Kirk Cousins situation.  Worked out for Kirk. (Can't rely on the Browns to be the WFT however).

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#12 by Mike Tanier // Oct 15, 2021 - 1:37pm

In reply to by jds

It did work out for Kirk. It has not worked out for either of his employers!!!

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#9 by Boots Day // Oct 15, 2021 - 1:28pm

Daniel Jones is now expected to start for the Giants on Sunday, which is surprising to me. But I think this hardly moves the needle on the Giants' chances of winning at all.

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#13 by Mike Tanier // Oct 15, 2021 - 1:38pm

I wrote the blurb without the Jones info, as I don't think his presence impacts the outcome or the spread. Maybe the Over. 

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#28 by DIVISION // Oct 15, 2021 - 6:31pm

Daniel Jones is a bit fluky to me.  I never expected him to beat the Saints.

I suppose the Rams could letdown subconsciously and make the game competitive.

Jones could bust off one of his patented 90 yard scrambles when we least expect it.


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#14 by MilkmanDanimal // Oct 15, 2021 - 2:07pm

I mean, I wouldn't say Cameron Hodge is obscure; that first X-Factor run is pretty much in the midst of their popularity explosion of the 80s, and was still someone showing up into the SO XTREME era of the 90s.  Maybe one of the dorky Mutant Liberation Front characters or much of anything from the Liefeld era wait this was just a toss-off joke and not a request to debate Marvel Comics history never mind.

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#18 by Joey-Harringto… // Oct 15, 2021 - 2:50pm

Sometimes I wish Jared Goff would make a deal with N'astirh to grant him the ability to complete passes more than 10 yards downfield, or at least have bigger hands.

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#17 by Caw Caw // Oct 15, 2021 - 2:40pm

When was the last time a Browns QB got a second contract?

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#21 by Pat // Oct 15, 2021 - 4:02pm

Guessing that the last quarterback that the Browns drafted that they signed to a second contract is Bernie Kosar.

That's probably what you were implying, although even more surprisingly, I'm pretty sure the last quarterback, period that the Browns have offered 2 contracts to is technically Kelly Holcomb, back in 2002. Anderson was claimed off of waivers, so he wasn't actually signed by the Browns, they just inherited the Ravens contract (although... if the contract is given by Old Browns and claimed by New Browns, does that count?).

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#20 by Tom Tulpa // Oct 15, 2021 - 3:00pm

Dan Campbell <singing, slouched over mike at press conference> "There ain't no devil, just Belichick when he's drunk..."

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#23 by AFCNFCBowl // Oct 15, 2021 - 4:53pm

Best bets: CIN -3.5, KC -6.5, MIN -2.5, LAC +2.5, CLE -3, LV +4, DAL -3.5, SEA +5.5

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#26 by IlluminatusUIUC // Oct 15, 2021 - 5:08pm

The idea that a small breeze would disrupt the Lions twice, despite playing in a dome, is sadly plausible.

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#38 by LionInAZ // Oct 15, 2021 - 11:53pm

It's the butterfly effect: the movements of a fan waving a Stafford jersey could generate a tornado at Goff's location.

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#27 by DIVISION // Oct 15, 2021 - 6:29pm

I'm a bit surprised to see FO picking the Cards over the Browns, but with the news that Chubb is out and the Browns having to rely on Hunt, it swings things, IMO.

What was a strength now becomes more of a liability if Baker is forced to make some throws.  Not sure how much the labrum hinders his passing.  

I like Arizona's defense much more than Cleveland's, especially the secondary.

Cards will miss Rodney Hudson, but Kyler isn't as dependent on an O-line as Baker is.


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#33 by DisplacedPackerFan // Oct 15, 2021 - 10:33pm

I'm really looking forward to this game but my concern the breaking news the Kingsbury and QB coach Turner will miss the game due to COVID tests. I'm not sold that Kingsbury is the best coach out there, but that has to affect things and Kyler is young enough that not have the QB coach there could affect him too since I'm assuming like most teams the QB coach does communicate with him on the sidelines between series. All that sucks because Kyler is fun to watch and I thought the Cardinals would win this one, not so sure now.

What's your take on losing the coaches?

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#45 by DIVISION // Oct 16, 2021 - 2:39pm

When I saw that headline "Kingsbury to miss Browns game with COVID", I had to have a laugh.

Honestly, I don't think the Cards miss a beat without him due to Kyler knowing the offense and Vance Joseph having already been a HC.  I expect Kyler to run the offense and Vance Joseph to manage the game. It's a good learning experience.

I'm more concerned with the loss of Rodney Hudson at C.  With Chubb out for Cleveland and their struggles on defense, I like this matchup for Arizona's defense. 

The line has moved from 3.5 down to 2.5 in some places.  That, to me, signals Vegas doesn't believe in the Browns against another contender.

Like the article above says, how can we take the Browns seriously until they beat the Chargers, Ravens and Cardinals of the world?

We're getting toward the point in the season where teams tell you who they are with their play and we have a decent sample size.


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#46 by DisplacedPackerFan // Oct 16, 2021 - 4:31pm

Good to know. I would worry about the Packers missing LaFleur (even with some of his issues). Part of that is I think Rodgers would audible more and do "McCarthy era" stuff that would not mesh with the game flows that LaFleur builds. I think some of that happened in LaFleur's first year which is part of why the team never quite seemed to be as good as the 13-3 record they had. But since I don't put Kingsbury on that level of coaching yet I wasn't sure if he would really be missed much. I still think Arizona wins, but I don't follow them closely so I really did want your opinion.

The Browns are decent, but I agree I think last year they and the whole AFC North, had inflated records from playing the NFC East and they haven't won a "prove it" game yet. I think Arizona has finally started hitting it's stride and the potential they started showing last year is paying off. As mentioned I've always enjoyed watching Kyler play and he's still getting better.

I would actually love to see a healthy Cardinals vs healthy Bills game too, I've really enjoyed this years Bills team. Of course I am a homer and still think Green Bay can win it all, even if I don't think they are the best team, I do think they are capable of playing well enough on any given day to beat anyone, especially if they get healthy, but they need some luck or a few people to have unsustainable levels of play at times.

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#49 by DIVISION // Oct 17, 2021 - 7:10pm

I think the defense will limit how far they can go this year.  The Bears were actually in that game late.

Cardinals look pretty good, despite missing the HC, QB coach, Chandler Jones, Rodney Hudson....

Dominated the Browns.

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