Unless you are an NFL fan who just returned from outer space, you are aware the Cleveland Browns suffered a horrific loss to the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football.
Along with the loss comes the requisite howling and yapping from the young pups in the Dawg Pound. If you have been around for a while, you know the drill. If not, this is how the narrative plays out:
• The Browns lose, in this case to a team with considerable talent and defenders that our mediocre offensive line could not contain.
• PLENTY of mistakes are made, and there is blame to spare
• The media begins sounding the funeral dirge for the franchise
• Bandwagoneers and fragile fans head for the hills
• Fans who possess the intestinal fortitude to be fully committed to the Browns for the long-term point out mistakes and obvious flaws, then shake it off
• Everyone else lines up to burn the head coach and starting quarterback in effigy.
I agree that the Browns who played on Monday night looked awful. However, I just pulled my eye muscles from rolling them at some of the ‘fans’ comments bashing the hell out of Baker Mayfield.
Full disclosure, I did not want the Browns to take Mayfield or any other rookie quarterback. I was team Barkley and have served my penance for that. I am not a Baker fangirl, he’s my quarterback end of story. (For the record I would crawl over broken glass for a chance to meet Myles Garrett, but that’s another matter.) Until he put on orange and brown, I did not like Baker Mayfield one tiny bit. I cursed him to hell and back for the flag stunt at Ohio Stadium in 2017, and it still grates on my nerves when I see replays.
However, as a Browns fan since the 1970s and a sportswriter with a platform, here’s my take on all of this Baker bashing.
Is he struggling in his first full season as our franchise quarterback?
Yes, and it’s not too surprising. A young quarterback with a young team and a brand-new head coach does not spell Superbowl. If you believed this was the case, please seek a reality intervention.
Does he deserve SOME of the blame?
Of course, I can fairly guarantee that Baker took actions that a quarterback with a few more years of experience behind him would have avoided.
Should Baker get ALL of the blame?
No, not at all. Some regrettable play calling, pointless penalties, and mental errors belong to many of the men in the Browns’ locker-room. Also, those who know me have heard me say ad nauseam, a quarterback cannot complete a pass while laying on his back. The Browns O-line was in way over their heads against the 49ers D.
Will Baker and company move on from this?
Absolutely, and if they can’t, they need to find new careers. However, these men deserve some support from the fans. Let the media, national or otherwise, bash us; that’s what they do best. However, it’s way too soon to start devouring our own.
All of the hype in the preseason was FUN. It felt great to look at an upcoming NFL season without the ghost of seasons past hovering directly over my shoulder. However, hype is hype and fun or not; it doesn’t win games in the NFL.
Do I think the Browns and the fans are headed for a heartbreak? No, but I think we have a long road ahead. This team has talent, intelligence, and swag to spare. They can put this all together and build on it, but that won’t happen if the powers that be give in to emotional outcry and knee-jerk reactions.