Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield stormed out of his weekly press conference this week after a testy exchange with beat writer Tony Grossi.
The reporter, who covers the team for 850 ESPN Radio in Cleveland, asked Mayfield if the team’s offense lacked urgency on their failed final drive of the first half of a recent loss to New England.
“I just told you the clock was running and we had a penalty,” an agitated Mayfield told Grossi. “You want to give them the ball back? No. You don’t play, you don’t know it. That’s just plain and simple. Was I happy with the drive? No, we didn’t score points,”
Then Mayfield added, “The dumbest question you could ask. What? Jesus, Tony.”
Mayfield then left the podium, ending the press conference prematurely.
— clevelanddotcom (@clevelanddotcom) October 30, 2019
A few minutes after ending the presser, Mayfield took to Twitter to defend himself.
“Everybody wants to hear the truth until they actually get it,” Mayfield tweeted. “I am who I am and always have been. Don’t call it emotional when it’s convenient and then passion when it fits. I care about winning, so yeah I’m frustrated. If I was to act like it’s okay to lose, then y’all would say that I’ve gotten complacent. My sense of urgency is at an all time high. And if I offend anybody along the way that’s too bad.”
After a lot of preseason hype about Cleveland being a playoff contender, the Browns have struggled this season, and currently have a 2-5 record.
Mayfield, who had a strong 2018 rookie season after being taken #1 overall in the draft, has had a rough second campaign, currently with just six touchdown passes, to go with 12 interceptions, which is tied for the most in the NFL with Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston.
It’s common for NFL quarterbacks to have a tough second season after opposing defensive coordinators have an entire off-season to break down their first-year tape, identify their weaknesses, and attack them.
But another issue might be the play of the Browns’ offensive line, which has allowed Mayfield to be sacked 21 times this season. The Browns were very active in free agency and trades this off-season, adding myriad new players, but didn’t do much to improve their offensive line. They recently benched left tackle Greg Robinson, assigned with protecting Mayfield’s all-important blindside, but was plagued by inconsistency.
Mayfield thinks a big problem with the underachieving Browns is discipline.
“Non-discipline; guys not being focused on their job,” Mayfield said after the Patriots’ loss. “Starts first and foremost with me. I have to be a leader every single down. Make sure we’re set, make sure we’re paying attention.”
And clearly Mayfield is paying attention to his media critics. Aside from battling Grossi, he’s also done battle with FS1’s Colin Cowherd, a constant critic of the quarterback, who told the QB to “grow up” after the Grossi incident.
Mayfield clearly never forgave Grossi for tweeting a few months before the 2018 draft: “Baker Mayfield was put on this planet to sucker the Browns. #100yearswar.” Grossi also tweeted a few months before the draft that Mayfield wasn’t even the fourth best quarterback in the class.
On December 30, 2017, Grossi was asked by a fan to rank the quarterbacks in the 2018 draft, and tweeted: “1. (Sam) Darnold. 2. (Josh) Rosen. 3. (Josh) Allen. 4. Anyone else.”
Grossi acknowledges the pre-draft criticism has contributed to the frayed relationship.
“I think it goes back to the pre-draft conversations we had, things I said, things I wrote. OK, fine, but you have to move along,” Grossi said. “I tried to talk to him twice, alone, but he just wants no part of that. If he’s not going to do that I have to do my job as best as I can.”
And clearly Mayfield needs to start doing his job the best he can before the Browns’ season slips away. They have a winnable game on Sunday at Denver, a team that just lost starting QB Joe Flacco to a neck injury.