It’s time for Baker Mayfield and the Browns to get dangerous

Cleveland Browns

The New England Patriots have made mincemeat out of quarterback after quarterback this season, so to avoid the same fate, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield must finally “get dangerous” in Week 8.

Few teams have been as disappointing as the Cleveland Browns this season. For the first time in, essentially, ever, the Browns entered the regular season with a great deal of hype, tabbed as the favorites to win the AFC North.

While they are still very much in the hunt, they’re also 2-4 and playing well below-average football. That’s not an ideal spot when facing the New England Patriots, who are undefeated and essentially toying with the NFL at this point, having cut ties with Josh Gordon and Michael Bennett for the remainder of the season.

But if there’s one thing Baker Mayfield, a former No. 1 overall pick and Heisman Trophy winner, loves more than anything else, it’s being an underdog. Before becoming Cleveland’s new favorite athlete, Mayfield was once a walk-on for the Oklahoma Sooners. He relishes the opportunity to grow the chip on his shoulder, prove everyone wrong, and talk some smack.

In order to do all of that, though, Mayfield needs to “get dangerous”.

Last year, Mayfield told reporters that he “woke up feeling dangerous” after torching the Atlanta Falcons defense in a victory, finishing with a QB Rating above 150.0.

Not only will he need to channel that same confident energy in Week 8 in order to upset the Patriots, but he’ll have to multiply that by a thousand. We’re talking about Bond villain-level units of dangerous.


 


The Patriots defense is first in the NFL in points allowed, yards allowed, and net yards per attempt allowed. Opposing passing attacks average less than four yards per dropback, which is an almost incomprehensible number in this era of football. They have never allowed more than two scores in a game and are coming off of their second shutout of the season, having absolutely embarrassed Sam Darnold on Monday Night Football last week.

Mayfield could be the next young quarterback to be victimized by Bill Belichick’s ravenous defense. He’s struggled so far this season with five touchdowns, a league-high 11 interceptions, and a quarterback rating hovering somewhere in the mid-60’s. If he doesn’t step it up, he could be in for a Darnold-like day at the office on Sunday afternoon.

Because of his poor play this season, it’s easy to forget how much natural talent Mayfield has; he was, after all, a successful starter in just his first season with the Browns.

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So there’s the element of the supporting cast. From the running backs to Odell Beckham Jr. to Jarvis Landry to the deep stable of tight ends, everyone has to be ready to contribute against a Patriots defense that loves to take away the opponent’s best option. If Odell faces suffocating coverage, everyone else has to step up that much more to give Mayfield, who already has the odds stacked against him, a fighting chance.

The feeling of having the chips against him, of course, is exactly the kind of feeling Mayfield wants. It can set up the “dangerous” mentality, and he’ll need to be in that mindset in order to shake off the rust and take the Browns to where they need to be.

An upset is highly improbable, but it sure as heck isn’t impossible.

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