- Sky not falling: With the Browns sputtering offensively in their first two games, questions are coming fast and furious about what’s the problem.
Why is Baker Mayfield holding the ball longer than last year? Why are plays getting off just before the play clock runs out? Why are they throwing so much? What’s happened to Mayfield’s accuracy?
One thing different is new coordinator Todd Monken upstairs in the coach’s booth hooked up to Kitchens, the play-caller, on the field. Could this, along with the new dynamic of Kitchens now doubling as the head coach, be a factor?
“I think it is fine,” Kitchens said of the play-calling mechanism. “There have not been any problems, really. It is not calling the plays. It is I have to do a better job of putting our guys in better situations and that happens Monday through Sunday. That is about all I have to say about that.”
For his part, Mayfield is taking a lot of the blame.
On accuracy, he said it’s a mechanics issue. On sacks, he said he has to get the ball out of his hands quicker and into those of the playmakers. On the play-clock issue, he said, “I have to be better within the week of giving Freddie confidence in what we are calling … so he can trust us to go do the job and no matter what he calls I’m going to get it done.”
He stressed, “I have to play better.”
When asked if he feels pressure to get it fixed during this difficult portion of the Browns schedule, Mayfield said, “I don’t feel any pressure about that. We are going to figure it out. Everybody is acting like the world is falling down. We can play better, but a win is a win. We are never going to take that for granted.”
Observed Odell Beckham Jr.: “I know we’re not where we want to be. The good thing is we have more games, more opportunities, more practices to come together. It’s not where you start. It’s where you finish.”
The key to a playoff season is grinding out wins when you’re not yet at your best. That’s what the Browns did Monday night against the Jets. The challenge is doing it against a team the caliber of the Rams.
- Garrett’s dilemma: When Myles Garrett entered the NFL as a rookie, critics said he didn’t always play with passion at Texas A&M. Now his reputation has done a 180 and he’s being flagged for playing with too much passion.
Garrett leads the NFL with five sacks, and also is tied with five penalties. Two would-be sacks in the Jets game were negated by flags for roughing-the-passer. The second one resulted in quarterback Trevor Siemian suffering a season-ending ankle injury.
He doesn’t want the perception of being a dirty player.
“I know who I am and the guys within these walls know who I am,” Garrett said. “That’s not me. I’m not going to do anything to try to hurt this team or take out any player outside of the rule book. Just want to play the game the way it’s supposed to be played – that’s violently but passively.
He said his two sins in the Jets game were hitting Siemian too high and smashing all his weight on him when taking him down.
“I’m going to keep playing with that same aggressiveness, I just have to be smarter, better in the strike zone and try to pull off so I don’t land on him with all my weight,” he said.
- Crazy as a fox: During the post-game interrogation by New York media after Monday night’s game, Beckham was asked about the alleged $2 million Richard Mille watch he wore in pre-game warm-ups.
“I am off of it,” Beckham said with his disarming smile. “I don’t really have any comment about it. I think [Swedish brand] Daniel Wellington might be a better watch than these, a little classier, not as flashy as this one. I’m just blessed.”
A little wealthier, too. On Tuesday, the company announced a new partnership with Beckham.
In retrospect, the whole Beckham watch thing would appear to be choreographed as a walk-up to the endorsement deal with Wellington.
“There’s always method to the madness,” Beckham said.
The announcement was made via a short video on which Beckham appeared. But the image of Beckham was dated because Beckham still had his blond highlights in his hair and there is no view of Beckham actually wearing the watch on it.
The upscale Mille brand would seem unaffordable to Beckham’s young, adoring fan base. Watches on the Wellington website are in the $179 to $229 price range.
Given Beckham’s marketing savvy, you have to wonder if he could cash in on the latest OBJ controversy – the tinted visor affair.
Could there be a deal forthcoming with Oakley, which signed a four-year partnership in August to be the exclusive supplier of NFL helmet shields?
- Hammer time: Jamie Gillan’s amazing story continues. The former Scottish rugby player was named AFC special teams player of the week for his performance against the Jets. He landed five punts inside the 20 and the only one returned went for a scant five yards.
“It is an honor to get that accolade. It was not just me. We are a punting unit,” Gillan said. “[Long snapper] Charley [Hughlett] had a fantastic day snapping. I did not have to turn the laces once on field goals. That was awesome. Austin [Seibert] kicked great, as well. Our gunners went down the field and caused some fair catches, as well, so they are getting open and doing their job and then the protection is great because they are not coming through and blocking the punts. It was all a team effort, and it was really awesome to go out there.”
- Brownie bits: The Browns listed 14 players on their injury report. Players sitting out practice included tight end David Njoku (concussion), right tackle Chris Hubbard (foot), linebacker Christian Kirksey (chest), safety Morgan Burnett (quad), defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi (ankle), safety Damarious Randall (concussion), linebacker Adarius Taylor (ankle), offensive tackle Kendall Lamm (knee) and defensive end Chris Smith (personal).