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Mayfeild thought Browns would be good right away

By MARY KAY CABOT • Oct 11, 2018 at 6:17 PM

BEREA — The Cleveland Browns had Baker Mayfield at hello.

"I've known that the Browns were not bad since the second I stepped foot into this franchise,'' he said Wednesday. "We had a special team from the get-go. Whoever we are playing has nothing to do with this team. Management has put together a great group of guys. It's on us to learn and move forward."

Before the Browns drafted Mayfield No. 1 on April 26, they had already traded for Jarvis Landry and Damarious Randall and signed free agents Carlos Hyde, Terrance Mitchell, T.J. Carrie, Chris Smith, Chris Hubbard and Darren Fells. Jamie Collins and Emmanuel Ogbah were coming off injuries and Myles Garrett was gearing up for a breakout season. Three spots after Mayfield, the Browns drafted cornerback Denzel Ward.

"From the people they're putting together in this group but then also the belief I have always had in myself (I knew),'' said Mayfield. "I said it back at the (NFL) combine when everybody said I was a short quarterback that couldn't do much, I said if anybody's going to do it, I believed in myself to do that. That's something that I carry with me, and I hope our guys believed in themselves as well."

Not only did Mayfield boldly state at the combine that if "anybody's going to turn that franchise around it would be me,'' he noted that "they're close. They're very close. They have the right pieces. I think they just need one guy, a quarterback to make that difference.''

And why did he feel he was he right man for the job?

"Accuracy. I can make any throw,'' he said. "Winning is most important, but the way I've been able to get my guys around me to play, not just the offensive players around, the 10 guys, but the defensive players, special teams. The energy I bring, the passion I bring, it's infectious. You can ask anybody on that Oklahoma staff. That's what I bring to the table."

Now, three games into the Baker Mayfield era, his words have proven to be prophetic. The Browns were closer than many thought, and he was just what they needed.

"Baker, he's a playmaker, man,'' said Rashard Higgins, expected to miss 2-to-4 weeks with a sprained MCL but who plans to be back after next week. "He just knows how to win. Some got it. Some don't. For Baker to come in like he has and to get us where we're at right now is unbelievable. Hat's off to him. He's the quarterback of the future."

Higgins noted that Mayfield's "not all riled up. He's poised. He's embracing the moment and he lives for moments like this. In college he did the same thing and it just so happened to carry on to the NFL. He's a baller. He knows how to win and we're with him 100 percent."

Mayfield has already turned the Factory of Sadness into a Factory of Gladness, sending fans home with hope and joy after victories over the Jets and Ravens. He has another shot at it this week, with the 3-2 Chargers and red-hot quarterback Philip Rivers (13 TDs, two interceptions, third in the NFL with a 116.4 rating) coming to town.

"That's what we are hoping for,'' said Mayfield. "We feed off of the crowd's energy. Our defense does, as well. We need to continue that, and this needs to be a place that people need to fear coming to play. It needs to be so loud that they can't communicate, and it needs to be a harsh place for an offense to come in. It needs to be exciting when our offense goes out there to keep the crowd in it. Keep building momentum. Keep stacking wins."

Mayfield knows he can't cry over reversed third-down conversions or missed kicks that dug the Browns a 2-2-1 hole.

"We're at a one week at a time mindset,'' he said. "We've moved on from the first four games of the season.

"Now, we're onto the second quarter. We're looking at a chance to go 2-0. If you win each quarter, you are looking at a great possibility of going to the playoffs. We just have to take care of business one game at a time. Obviously, the end goal, yes, is to win the division and make the playoffs, but you do not do that unless you take it one week at a time."

That the Browns were denied a few victories has them scratching and clawing to dig out of that hole.

"Yeah, I would say so, especially with our games we've had so far in our division,'' linebacker Joe Schobert said. "You can just see that it's achievable ... and to kind of build towards hopefully winning an AFC North division championship is definitely a main driver for a lot of people.''

Randall said Wednesday the Browns are as good as his playoff teams in Green Bay and that they're a contender this year. His teammates agree.

"Absolutely. I know we are,'' said Higgins. "We've got one of the best defenses, and the offense is major as well. People tend to sleep on us, but we're going to wake them up."

But the playoffs as a legit possibility?

"Absolutely,'' Higgins said. "That's the only thing I'm thinking about."

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