Baker Mayfield paying a price for young offense’s growing pains

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If you thought it was tough watching Baker Mayfield play in Sunday’s 33-18 loss to the Steelers, you should have tried watching him afterward.

The Cleveland Browns’ young quarterback carried the air of a tired, old man when this one was over. He walked gingerly from the locker room to the podium. He sighed multiple times before answers. At the end of his news conference, he looked uncomfortable bending down to pick up his bag. He walked very slowly, and with a slight limp, to the bus at the end of the long, concrete hallway under Heinz nike nfl jerseys wholesale

Mayfield was the 12th Browns starting quarterback since 2003 to try and fail to win a game in this town. And this loss was painful — not just missed-opportunity painful or disappointing-painful but physically painful.

“I’ve seen better days,” Mayfield said. “But that’s the nature of playing a good team. They’re physical.”7

The Steelers hit Mayfield seven times and sacked him twice Sunday, which doesn’t sound too bad (as long as you’re not the one getting hit), but these things accumulate. Mayfield has been dealing with an ankle issue for a couple weeks now, since he rolled it during an Oct. 14 loss to the Chargers. He has been sacked 20 times in the six games he has played.

“One thing I know about Baker, he battles,” Browns coach Hue Jackson said. “He’s tough. He took quite a few hits out there, and he kept getting up, kept going back out there. I just think he has to keep working.” china nike

This is the issue. Whenever anyone looks at a rookie quarterback situation and asks, “What do they have to lose by playing him?”, they’re not thinking about the physical toll that learning process can take. Mayfield is a rookie quarterback on a young offense with basically one reliable wide receiver, a rookie left tackle, a rookie running back, a second-year tight end … we could go on, but you get the point. This stuff is hard for the best and most experienced quarterbacks. We’re a ways from knowing whether Mayfield is one of the former, but we know for a fact that he isn’t one of the latter.

“He’s doing fine,” Browns guard Joel Bitonio said. “We’ve got to give him as much time as he needs. It’s tough when he’s getting hit and he has to scramble for his life out there. We need to do better for him. But he’s doing fine. He knows the offense, and he’s going to continue to get better.”