Baker Mayfield did not make it into the fourth quarter for the Cleveland Browns yesterday afternoon. Having already come into the game nursing sore ribs after suffering an injury the week before, the third-year quarterback took a beating at the hands of the Cleveland Browns defense, which included four sacks and numerous hits.
By the time he checked out of the game, it was a three-possession score difference, and head coach Kevin Stefanski decided that it simply was not worth it to leave him in the game at that point. Case Keenum was inserted into the game with a short time to go in the third quarter.
“I just did not want to see him get hit one more time, and I put that on myself”, the head coach told reporters after the game. “Went into this game knowing we had to keep him clean, and we did not do a good enough job so that that starts with me obviously. He is a very, very tough player and I know he wants to fight, but it is a long season, we have a game next week and I did not feel like it was the right thing to put him back out there”.
The Browns came into yesterday’s game with one of the top-ranked offensive lines, including a top-five rank in pass protection, allowing Mayfield to be sacked just seven times in five games—the Steelers had that many sacks in one game already this season.
Stefanski did add that Mayfield would continue to be the starter as long as he is healthy, and “I think he will be”. The Browns play the Cincinnati Bengals next week. Cincinnati has just one win so far this season, narrowly escaping a second victory yesterday by allowing a huge comeback by the Indianapolis Colts. Cleveland doesn’t have a bye until week nine.
I’m going to guess that Mayfield will continue to be limited in practice this week, as he was last week leading up to the Steelers game, considering the number of shots that Pittsburgh defenders were going to get on him, including a doozy by Cameron Heyward shortly before halftime.
The Browns entered yesterday’s game 4-1. They are now 4-2, with a big division game up next and another tough assignment against the Las Vegas Raiders to follow, who beat the Kansas City Chiefs and are currently on their bye.
Their first three games after the bye are against the Texans, Eagles, and Jaguars, so not exactly murderer’s row, but they still have to play the Titans, and the Ravens and Steelers again, albeit both of those games on the road. There’s still plenty of time for Cleveland to bounce back and stay in the race.