We finally saw Baker Mayfield successfully get the ball to Odell Beckham Jr. downfield tonight and make some music. It’s been frustrating to wait. I’ve been frustrated. I drafted him in both of my fantasy football leagues because I still believe that he’s an elite WR who people have wrongfully lost faith in. It has become a nightmare loop of disappointment… something Cleveland has had enough of. Was this the dawn of something new and beautiful?
I was willing to give it another chance when Cleveland got stomped by the Ravens; as Odell Beckham Jr. caught 3 of his 10 targets. In light of that performance, his 4 catch, 74 yard Thursday night is a celebration, right?? Pump all of the brakes and ride slow homie. Most of his production was on one catch for 43 yards. Watching a full Browns game, it still looks like Baker and Beckham Jr. are not in sync. Sorry to kill the vibe ya’ll, but let’s tell it like it is.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the talent and ability of OBJ. I also do believe in Baker to be a solid facilitator who can lead an elite team (although my confidence has given way to slight doubt recently). It just doesn’t look like a great fit. Baker had the 3rd highest average time to throw in week 1 (per Next Gen Stats) and was not able to get Odell involved with 10 looks! It seems as if he’s pressing. Did you see the way it seemed like everybody breathed a sigh of relief when OBJ finally caught a deep pass tonight? Bruhhhh these dudes is on edge!! And this was against the Bengals, so we can go ahead and say less.
The Browns don’t need the pressure of taking advantage of an out-of-sync star receiver. They should get back to the ground and pound potential they have with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Those two MASHED tonight. They also have 3 potentially star tight ends. Their defense may thrive with more ball control. Mayfield was at his best in his rookie season when he wasn’t under pressure to make the offense boom. A change in philosophy (and one that Kevin Stefanski is partial to) should absolutely be in order.
Now, Cleveland may keep OBJ around to see if they can capitalize on the strong run game and make him a play-action deep threat this year. I don’t expect it to be a perfect fit. I watched a replay of the Cardinals @ Niners from week 1, and it was apparent that Kyler had the ability to strike at will to DeAndre Hopkins. That connection had the ability to shine and take over a game. D-Hop is an impact player for that team. That’s not the way this feels with Bake to Beckham. Mayfield was spreading the ball all around in his best game in some time. OBJ is an expensive luxury to have in that case.
With cap space an issue across the league (given the uncertainty of revenue for the league during this time in our world), not many teams will be able to make a bold move for Odell and his $14M. The New England Patriots have the 2nd most cap space after the Browns, and have proven that they may be closer to contenders than tankers. That defense is still looking solid. Cam is playing for $1M for a team that people have written off. He is playing without a care in the world, and pressure is not an issue there. Odell and Cam are already friends. This is the year that Bill gets to tinker, so why not? Buffalo went out and got their Cam clone a similar weapon in Stefon Diggs.
Don’t count out the New York Jets (they need to get Darnold help FAST) who are in the city where OBJ played for his first 5 years in the league as a Giant. They lost Jamal Adams and Le’Veon Bell, and look like a mess. you need to find out if Sam Darnold is your guy, or if the kid sees ghosts. Lastly, wouldn’t it be something if The Football Team made a play for the star receiver? Washington is leading their division (!) and Haskins could use another legit receiver across from Scary Terry. Rivera and company would only take that chance if they truly believe in Dwayne, but it would load up OBJ with shots at revenge on the G-Men.
Either way, I expect a testing period this year to give it one last shot to see if it can work with the Browns. If not, there are teams that would love to make a play for a guy that can do things like this. The Browns need to forge a new identity on the ground. Beckham Jr. was acquired by a different administration in Cleveland. His trade to the Browns was exciting, but always felt awkward and forced. We haven’t heard the last of questions about Odell Beckham Jr.’s fit and chemistry with Baker Mayfield in Cleveland. If he has any shot to stick, it will be as a deep play threat off of play-action. I don’t see it fully happening the way that it could pop off elsewhere. Move him for assets at the trade deadline and get a cheaper alternative who meshes with your team ethos. Let’s see how this one plays out!