Is Baker Mayfield Coachable On the NFL Level

A disappointing season ended in Cleveland with the firing of Head Coach Freddie Kitchens, however an undercurrent shrouded by the season’s finish rose to the surface. Not that of diva receiver Odell Beckham arguing in a demonstrative fashion with the aforementioned coach. Nor when it happened a few weeks before that with Jarvis Landry. It was the behavior of Baker Mayfield.

Lets take you back to the 15th game of the 2018 season when the Browns were putting the finishing touches on a 26-18 win over Cincinnati. Mayfield refused to shake the hand of former coach Hue Jackson who had been fired from Cleveland just 8 weeks before. Where he could have taken the high road he continued to act in the line of a tempestuous kid rather than a franchise QB.

Keep in mind he also had a disrespectful stare down with his old coach when he had completed a 66 yard TD to his TE Njoku. He jogged downfield staring down Hue Jackson as he went to celebrate with his teammates.

In a vacuum we didn’t know what had taken place behind closed doors between Jackson and Mayfield. Public reaction was mixed.

Fast forward to the last weeks of the season and we heard rumblings between he and Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and interesting sound bites when it came to Coach Kitchens. At a time where Coach Kitchens could have benefitted from a vote of confidence from his franchise QB, he deferred to its a front office decision and out of his hands. Freddie was fired the night of the final Sunday and didn’t even make it to Black Monday.

Wasn’t Kitchens promoted from Interim Offensive Coordinator to Head Coach based on his work with Mayfield in ’18?? Why would he turn on the coach who believed in him?? Now make that 2 coaches in 2 years.

Uh oh… this just in: Browns GM John Dorsey just got fired! Make that 3 of 3!

Although Kitchens offense lacked creativity it was Mayfield who regressed on the field. Do you realize Baker’s quarterback rating sank from 93.7 as a rookie to 78.7 in year 2?? This is after acquiring RB Kareem Hunt and Odell Beckham. Take a look:

  • 2018 – 310 of 486 for 3,725 yards 27 TDs 14 Ints
  • 2019 – 317 of 534 for 3,827 yards 22 TDs 21 Ints

With all these offensive weapons he has not passed the eyeball test all year. Carson Wentz just went 4-0 with 3 receivers on IR to win the NFC East for the Philadelphia Eagles so Mayfield has no room for excuses. Where is he trending??

Baker Mayfield has gone into the offseason not wanting a QB coach. Now the GM that picked him 1st overall is gone. The 1st Head Coach in Hue Jackson with whom Dorsey conferred is gone along with hand picked 2nd coach in Kitchens. Attitude of Mayfield aside is this guy a coachable QB?? Will he backstab or undermine the next coach coming in?? The people who picked him are gone…

Baker Mayfield might go away as fast as his commercials. He has to become a student of the game and stay off Twitter downing beers. He is not maturing and may be out of the NFL in a little over a year.

He better as the new GM and Head Coach aren’t tied to him and there is a draft in April. A Jalen Hurts is available in round one. Remember former 1st round QB Josh Rosen in Arizona?? They got a new coach in Kliff Kingsbury and drafted Kyler Murray. You don’t think that can happen here?

Stay tuned…

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Enough With Joe Buck & Troy Aikman Announcing All These Games

America is suffering from Joe Buck and Troy Aikman announcing fatigue. Do they really have to ruin both Thursday Night and games on Sunday with these two?

Nothing is better than the break fans get when Joe Buck is off to announce the World Series and takes his non football sensibilities with him. He takes his hero worship with him and we get a week break from how great he thinks Tom Brady or Drew Brees are. Yet he talks down to and refers to the rank and file player with a disdain that grates people the wrong way.

It does with The Chancellor of Football and I know it does with a series of former players.

Joe Buck is the worst play by play announcer in NFL history and made it there due to nepotism. His father was legendary St Louis Cardinals announcer Jack Buck. Yet you can hear his elitist privlege ooze out of him as he drones on during a game. You can tell he’s never been in the fray playing sports or being in the heat of a battle to see both sides. He’s ultra conservative and shapes every narrative that way and it leads Aikman’s commentary down that path.

It has become so negative and off putting that Seattle Seahawk fans petitioned to have them removed from broadcasting their games. This was followed by Green Bay fans that became so popular Aikman addressed it in the Dallas Morning News. CBS Sports even ran a story covering it as Packer fans sought 15,000 signatures and wound up with a whopping 29,597. That is actual signatures of fans who believe Buck and Aikman were biased against their team.

I believe their bias doesnt stop there as Buck often shapes the nation’s narrative and can villify a player in the court of purlic opinion before millions.

Case and point this last Thursday Night when the brawl broke out between the Browns and Steelers with :05 left in the game. He reacted with utter disgust at Miles Garrett when he swung Mason Rudolph’s helmet striking him in the head. He completely villified Garrett while completely omitting Rudolph’s involvement starting the fight, trying to yank off Garrett’s helmet off first, and kicking Garrett in the unmentionables.

Not once did Buck even try to describe what happened from Garrett’s point as to why or how he overreacted. He turned Rudolph into some innocent man who was assaulted when clearly he was the aggressor even after his helmet had been taken off.

From that moment on the rest of the NFL Network commentary followed Buck’s suggestion of Garrett being thrown out the rest of the year. Finally from within the studio Willie McGinnest and James Jones restored sense there were two sides to this incident. Scott Hansen was adding to the narrative of Buck’s overreaction when he noticed how upset his studio mate Jones was and offered him the chance to express what he was feeling:

Those biases seemed to come out and crystalize down racial lines when it came from Buck’s point of view. Inside the studio this commentary touched off the firestorm that has become of this incident. Now it’s being talked about on every sports outlet as suspensions have come down now and ironically Garrett is suspended indefinitely while Rudolph is only subjected to an undisclosed fine. You can’t tell me Buck’s reaction and commentary didn’t help shape this from the very outset.

Listen to the round robin commentary from the Fox Sports commentary of Terry Bradshaw, Jimmy Johnson, Howie Long, Curt Menifee, and Michael Strahan who admits he hit a former teammate Scott Gragg with a helmet himself:

Amazing how once former players and not a preppy announcer talked about what they experienced and saw, all of their commentary was more understanding and empathetic to all parties involved. Or as Michael Strahan concluded his comment “…but if you haven’t been in that situation you don’t understand.” And that is what I’m saying about Joe Buck and his commentary in a nutshell which painted with a broad brush to the viewing audience that made Rudolph seem like an innocent victim and not a culpable antagonist.

Glad Jimmy Johnson addressed this…

To remove myself from Buck’s prejudices and biases during playoff games I’ll switch to Spanish audio. It would be great if Fox offered some of the Thursday Night games to other sets of announcers. How about a 2nd set of announcers for us to switch to that is more pro player in their commentary??

This isn’t new as Buck’s commentary was referenced against the great play by play commentary by the late Charlie Jones in a playoff retrospective on a 1989 playoff between Buffalo and Cleveland. This was one penned nearly 8 years ago.  It’s time to quit the love affair with the preppy commentator following in his father’s footsteps. It’s like a cruel practical joke as we have to hear commentary from someone most of us would last choose to talk football with. He ruins games for several teams and has shaped opinion negatively on many players over the years.

Thank goodness for NFL redzone and CBS football coverage….

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1964 NFL Champion Cleveland Browns: Gary Collins Surprise MVP

 

Did you know that the NFL had a rotating trophy in the years before the Super Bowl? How do we know this? Well in 1995 when it was determined that Cleveland was to keep the Browns team colors, records, etc., there was no championship trophy for 1964. In fact, in more ways than one, they left it in Green Bay following a loss in the 1965 NFL Championship Game. Following the 1965 season we started the Super Bowl series where teams kept a trophy to commemorate the accomplishment…but there were rings.

Yet the year before the Cleveland Browns hosted the heavily favored Baltimore Colts in the 1964 NFL Title Game. With the Baltimore Colts defense keying on Jim Brown, Frank Ryan hit surprise MVP Gary Collins #86 with 3 TD passes in a 27-0 upset. Collins 3TD receptions in a title game went unmatched until Jerry Rice had 3 in Super Bowl XXIV some 26 years later. OK that isn’t entirely true since today they use the NFC Championship Game as an equivalent to the old NFL Championship Game we have to include Preston Pearson’s 3TDs in the 1975 NFC Championship Game when Dallas beat the Rams 37-7….yet I digress

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown gaining yardage as Lenny Lyles closes in. (Tony Tomsic via AP)

This was the last championship won by the lake. So yes Jim Brown did play for an NFL Champion during his career. The team was quarterbacked by Frank Ryan who went on to be a college professor and designed the first electronic voting system for either US Congress or the House of Representatives…the memory escapes me. He threw for, then a career best, 25TDs as he completed 174 of 344 for 2,404 yards. On a par with what Norm Van Brocklin and Bart Starr had thrown for in 1960-62 winning championships. In fact, aside from Earl Morrall’s 26TDs in 1968, this was the most for an NFL Champion QB during the 1960’s.

The Ed Thorpe NFL Championship Trophy for 1965. No one knows where the one all the teams held is.

A uniquely forgotten team amidst the slew of Green Bay Packers championship teams throughout the decade.

Brown as he had in 8 of his 9 seasons led the league in rushing with 1,446 yards and 7 scores. His punishing runs were the bludgeoning focal point of the Cleveland offense. No one knew he was just a season away from retiring as the NFL’s all time leading rusher with 12,312 yards. 

However the 3 time MVP had some help as #1 draft pick Paul Warfield turned in a rookie season for the ages. In what would be a Hall of Fame career, Warfield hauled in 52 passes for a team record 920 yards and 9 scores. He was the deep threat the team had been missing since Dante Lavelli. With Collins coming off of a 1963 where he had a team record 13 TD receptions, teams were in a quandry. Teams keyed on Brown and tried to slow #86 but the addition of Warfield made Cleveland’s offense lethal. 

Collins played on through the 1971 season yet it was this performance that was the highlight of his career. Yet take a look at his stats vs a few contemporaries:

  • Max McGee– 345 rec. 6,346 yards 50 TDs *1 Pro Bowl
  • Gary Collins – 331 rec. 5,299 yards 70 TDs *2 Pro Bowls **3 All Pros
  • Del Shofner – 349 rec. 6,470 yards 51 TD *5 Pro Bowls **5 All Pros
  • Raymond Berry – 631 rec. 9,275 yards 68 TDs *6 Pro Bowls **3 All Pros

Does he deserve Hall of Fame consideration??

Ironically, the team that bears the name of Paul Brown, won this championship without him. In a power struggle he was removed by new majority owner Art Modell and replaced by Blanton Collier. More irony can be found in the fact that in Cleveland 4 years later, the Colts got revenge shutting out the Browns 34-0 in the NFL Championship Game on their way to Super Bowl III. Then the obvious irony of losing not only their last NFL Championship appearance to Baltimore, but then lost their original incarnation as a franchise to Baltimore when Art Modell moved them there following the 1995 season.

Gary Collins snares one of his three TD receptions in the '64 NFL Title Game.

However in 1964 they were league champions and went on to defend that title in 1965 against Green Bay at Lambeau. This was also the team of the 1950s and is the only team in league history to win an NFL title in their first year in the league.

Further food for thought: What was first IRRESPONSIBLY taught to the masses as the “West Coast Offense” was the 1950s playbook of Paul Brown’s from Cleveland and taught to Bill Walsh in Cincinnati. In fact the most famous play in “west coast offense” history, the pass to Dwight Clark from Joe Montana in the ’81 NFC Championship Game, was an old Cleveland Brown play called Q-8 option and NOT sprint right option.

Think not?? Guess what the audible is in the West Coast Offense at the line of scrimmage to “Sprint Right Option?? A hand signal which is short hand for Q-8!! It started in Ohio….NOT in San Francisco. Know your history kids… Class dismissed

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2016 AFC North Previews & Predictions

Burfict returns however S Reggie Nelson has moved on.

Burfict returns however S Reggie Nelson has moved on.

The last time we looked in on the AFC North, the Pittsburgh Steelers were embroiled in an epic playoff battle with the Cincinnati Bengals when the unexpected happened… Vontaze Burfict sealed what looked like the first playoff win of the Marvin Lewis era. Then a Jeremy Hill fumble while trying to run out the clock opened the door, and a few senseless defensive penalties allowed the Steelers to steal an 18-16 win.

These two antagonists renew acquaintances in week 2 in Pittsburgh and a few questions arise. Will the Steelers be able to move the ball on the ground with LeVeon Bell serving a 3 game suspension?? Can QB Andy Dalton get that signature win vs. a top AFC contender??  Have the Bengals learned from last year’s meltdown in January??

2016 AFC North Predctions

steelerimage1. Pittsburgh Steelers 11-5 **

2. Cincinnati Bengals 11-5 *

3. Baltimore Ravens 6-10

4. Cleveland Browns 4-12

Cincinnati has a tough beginning to their season with 4 of 6 on the road which includes trips to Pittsburgh in week 2, and to New England in week 6. How New England fares during Brady’s 4 game suspension dictates how desperate the Patriots could be for a win. Typically these are the games Andy Dalton always seems to lose. Will 2016 be different?

bell2Speaking of suspensions, the Steelers will be without LeVeon Bell for the first 3 weeks of the season. The only AFC team they play in that stretch will be against the Bengals. So they have time to catch Cincinnati with a slow start. They’ll have to run the ball with DeAngelo Williams and rely on Ben Roethlisberger (319 of 469 for 3,938 yds 21 TDs/ 16 ints) and Antonio Brown.

Last year Brown came in 2nd to Cam Newton for the Taylor Blitz Times MVP for 2016. With 136 receptions for 1,834 yds and 10 TDs, he was within reach of both NFL records for receptions and yards. He’s quick in and out of his cuts and has the speed to get deep. Barring injury he’ll have a similar season with the added attention in Bell’s early season absence

With age catching up to Adrian Peterson, Bell is arguably the best back in the NFL when he’s healthy and will be rounding into shape as the Steelers make their playoff push.

The Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns will definitely be on the outside looking in. The Ravens will have Terrell Suggs and Steve Smith to lead them into battle on both sides of the ball. However the Ravens struggle to run the football and Joe Flacco will be coming off of major knee surgery himself. Before his injury he was playing like the east coast version of Alex Smith and checking the ball down too much. Now with him possibly being gun-shy expect more of the same.

One intriguing story to watch is the resurrection of Robert Griffin III and Terrelle Pryor in Cleveland. Head coach Hue Jackson has mentored a series of NFL quarterbacks to successful seasons. This could be a perfect storm of coaches and players all having something to prove and the ability to get it done. If Josh Gordon stays with the team, this could be fun to watch. It will come to fruition in 2017 not this year. However they will be a competitive team to watch offensively.

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Former Oakland Raider Mike Davis Ready To Part With “Red Right 88” Football

It could have been borne from the comment about The Immaculate Reception football being worth a million dollars from the Football Life series. Or was it simply a scenario where a player has gained enough from a momento from his past?? Whatever the reason, in casual conversation former Oakland / LA Raider Mike Davis has decided to sell the football he has held since the Red Right 88 interception against the Cleveland Browns in the 1980 playoffs.

Mike Davis clutch interception in the 1980 AFC Playoffs saved the Raiders season.

Mike Davis clutch interception in the 1980 AFC Playoffs saved the Raiders season.

To understand the value of the ball you have to understand where it came from. It is from the single play that saved the Raiders season and propelled them to become the first wild card team to win the Super Bowl 3 weeks later. The entire story of Jim Plunkett wouldn’t have been complete without this play.

Head coach Tom Flores, whom we believe should be in the Hall of Fame, wouldn’t have been able to leave the shadow cast by John Madden without it. The 11-5 Cinderella Raiders were riding high after a wildcard win over the Houston Oilers 27-7. They had vanquished former Raider Kenny Stabler, whom they traded before the season. Now they were off to play the AFC Central champion Browns.

What is forgotten is how great the Cleveland Browns of that era were. In 1980 they were great throwing the football. In fact they were ranked 2nd only to the San Diego Chargers of Air Coryell fame. Quarterback Brian Sipe was the NFL MVP in 1980 and Head Coach Sam Rutigliano had just won his second straight Coach of the Year honor. Sipe threw for 4,132 yards 30 touchdowns with just 14 interceptions. Over the 1979 and ’80 seasons they had come from behind to win 14 times in the last 2 minutes. In contrast, Roger Staubach had 23 over his entire career to earn the nickname Captain Comeback.

So the football world was gearing up for an aerial AFC Championship between the Cleveland Browns and the San Diego Chargers. It was to be the changing of the guard from the grind it out Pittsburgh Steelers to the first conquerors of the new passing NFL set up by the rules in 1978 favoring such. The Chargers had vanquished the best defense in football in the Buffalo Bills in one AFC playoff 20-14 on Saturday. Now they awaited the Browns who would play an Oakland Raider team full of unknowns, with a journeyman quarterback and unknown coach on Sunday…

The Raiders escaped the confines of Cleveland Municipal Stadium and rode the wave of momentum into San Diego. They won the AFC Championship 34-27 for the right to play the Philadelphia Eagles for Super Bowl XV. All the while Mike Davis clutched the football that propelled his Raiders into NFL history. He would eventually win two Super Bowls with the team when they came back and dethroned the Washington Redskins in XVIII. There he made another iconic play when from his Strong Safety position blitzed sacking Joe Theismann. It was the final turnover and the famous visual of Theismann slowly walking off. His jersey, half pulled off exposing his shoulder pads and stained by field paint.

Yet it was the famous play in the 1980 NFL playoffs that altered the course of NFL history. NFL pundits were ready to crown Air Coryell as the sucessors to the ground oriented teams that dominated the 1970s. Accolades that were thrown around a year later when San Francisco and their passing offense made it to the top of pro football.

So what would this football be worth? To Oakland Raider fans?? To Cleveland Brown fans?? To a collector?? To the Pro Football Hall of Fame?? Mike’s question hit me like a ton of bricks and it took me a day to realize that football’s value. You can see a part of the conversation on social media to know that it’s true. You’re hearing about this for the first time.

The first thing Mike, we have to get that your ball appraised and possibly auctioned by one of the memorabilia auction houses. Here at Taylor Blitz Times, we would like to hear from Raider fans what it would be like to own a big piece of Oakland Raider history like this. The Chancellor of Football has an idea what the football would be worth. But lets hear from the professionals who appraise such things first.

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Follow up comment from Mike Davis:   MikeDavis&I

Prologue: What is intriguing is following the principles of a seminal moment. In this instance how did the future hold for the vanquished in the Browns of Brian Sipe, Sam Rutigliano, and Browns owner Art Modell?? At the time if you were in Ohio you had heard “The Browns’ 12 Days of Christmas” for the last two months as the Browns appeared headed to a Super Bowl. After “Red Right 88” I can’t remember hearing it once having lived there in the next 17 years.

You’ll have to ask Brian Sipe and Sam Rutigliano… as for fellow Arizonan Mike Davis… he received this from Art Modell:m.davis.letter.art.modell

Time may heal all wounds yet a letter from years gone by about a moment of great reflection is the closure The Chancellor can add between Art Modell, who owned the Browns in 1980 and Mike Davis of the Raiders, who ended their best ever season. If Modell can find forgiveness…??

Remember….these men lived it…

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The Chancellor with Mike Davis

The Chancellor with Mike Davis at at the 2015 draft party.

All The Johnny Manziel Subterfuge

A few days ago I posed the question: If you change your mock draft for the 10th time, what’s the difference between that and talking in circles?? Pundit after pundit for weeks explained why they thought Manziel would fall in the draft. Well the Cleveland Browns made him a late first round pick and energized the franchise and fan-base.

manzielAfter months of speculation on where he’ll slip in the draft a funny thing happened. When you asked GMs what they thought about him, reviews were mixed. Yet when you asked defensive players who they least wanted to face of the incoming quarterbacks, Manziel topped that list by far. How much of it was smokescreen to get Johnny to fall to them at a specific draft position??

Former GM Charlie Casserly was his most vocal critic citing his being the most overrated player in the draft. This from a guy that drafted Heath Shuler & David Carr?? To quote Bill Belichick “When has Charlie Casserly been right?”

The consensus has always been to draft a 6’3 strong armed pocket passer. Yet the NFL is evolving. Didn’t we just watch a small mobile QB beat the pocket passer in Super Bowl XLVIII a few months back?? Colin Kaepernick came within a few plays of winning the ultimate game the year before that. There is more than one way to play the position and a new profile of how the position looks. You can offset a smaller quarterback with roll-outs, waggles, and spread formations. Drew Brees has been carving up the record books lately at 6’0, so what is everyone talking about??

More important…who cares??

The Browns needed Johnny Manziel as much as he needed them. He will have a chip on his shoulder from this entire draft ordeal and want to prove a point. Its the immeasurable qualities like the will to win, and the ability to inspire teammates that you can’t get from combines and pro days. Watching his best college performances against teams that were thought to be better than his shows fight. He’ll have plenty of those days with the Browns looking up to the AFC North and most teams from a talent standpoint. He’s wired psychologically to take that on. The Heath Shulers, David Carrs, Blaine Gabberts of the world were not.

Speaking of free agents Cleveland might attract....LeBron James sporting a Manziel jersey traveling with the Miami Heat.

Speaking of free agents Cleveland might attract….LeBron James sporting a Manziel jersey traveling with the Miami Heat.

Now the Browns can draw more attention from the upper echelon of free agents that will be available before the season begins. We still have a few rounds of the draft to go, but look for the Browns to make a move at receiver with the pending suspension of wideout Josh Gordon.

The Cleveland Browns relevancy begins now.  Just call him Johnny Cleveland!

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