Former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson has managed to say a lot of ridiculous things both before and after he was fired. Most of the ridiculous things he said before he was fired likely came behind closed doors, based on the glimpses we got via Hard Knocks. Since then? It’s pretty much all been on record.
But one thing he did say recently, I think he got right, and that was in talking about his former quarterback, Baker Mayfield, who doesn’t exactly care about him at this point after Jackson elected to work with the Cincinnati Bengals after he was fired.
Mayfield said that he doesn’t regret anything that he said about Jackson, nor did he mind the criticism that he took for his stance. The only thing that bothered him was the argument made that it was about Jackson earning a living, because, in reality, the Browns were still paying him not to coach.
But Mayfield’s response to Jackson is, the latter seemed to argue, part of what makes him Baker Mayfield, and part of what makes him successful—or at least has the makings of a successful player. “Baker’s gonna be Baker”, he said, according to Mina Kimes for ESPN.
He called Mayfield the Pied Piper, saying that he “has a way of drawing people to him”. And he also doesn’t care for those outside of his circle. “Opponents? He doesn’t like you. People on the fence? He doesn’t want to be around them. That’s the way he’s made”, Jackson said. “You’re either all-in with him or you’re not”.
He already showed this earlier this offseason when he was critical of teammate Duke Johnson, the veteran running back who is continuing to seek a trade—having recently hired a new agent in Drew Rosenhaus to try to facilitate that—essentially laying down the gauntlet and saying you’re with us or you’re against us.
That remark did reportedly draw some internal response from some of the veteran teammates, and afterwards veteran wide receiver Jarvis Landry did come out in support of Johnson, though not in a way that went against Mayfield’s comments, essentially saying that his teammates are behind him regardless of how the situation unfolds.
While Mayfield’s personality feels a bit volatile, the general consensus seems to be that it’s an essential part of who he is. “It serves the purpose you need”, offered Jackson, qualifying it by saying, “if it leads to wins”.
The Browns went 7-8-1 last season, which was a marked improvement from the 0-16 record of the previous season, and it has gotten to the point that Cleveland has become the favorite to win the AFC North. Will Mayfield deliver? Obviously, I personally hope not. And it would certainly be interesting to see how that personality plays out through adversity, perhaps not unlike Ben Roethlisberger at times.