CLEVELAND – Following the news that Odell Beckham Jr. tore his ACL and was lost for the season a narrative swept through national talk shows – the Browns, and Baker Mayfield for that matter, are better off without him.
It is a conversation that Mayfield wasn’t even willing to entertain when asked about it Wednesday.
“One, I think it’s just completely insensitive to a guy that just tore his ACL,” Mayfield said. “So I’m not even going to comment on it. You never want to lose guys. That’s where I’m going to leave that one.”
Head coach Kevin Stefanski wasn’t buying it either.
“I do reject that,” Stefanski said. “Odell is a great, great player, We’re going to miss him. I feel sick, still, without him in the building.”
Receiver Jarvis Landry, who is one of Beckham’s closest friends, challenged the thought in an interview with Bull and Fox on Tuesday afternoon on 92.3 The Fan.
“I would say that’s not true at all,” Landry said. “I think a lot of our offense has been solely based on having Odell on the field, and a lot of the things that have opened up for us as an offense has been because of the threat that he is.”
Beckham commands attention – from his own quarterback and opposing defenses.
The critics argue that Mayfield won’t be compelled to throw to Beckham with him sidelined, thus opening up opportunities for Mayfield to go through his progressions and make better decisions with the ball.
“I really do not think so,” Stefanski said. “Again, Odell is a great, great player. We are going to miss him. I feel sick still without him in the building, but our offense is based on 11 guys and the quarterback going through his reads. It was like that with No. 13 in there, and it will be like that without No. 13 in there.”
Mayfield went on to set a franchise record by completing 21 consecutive passes and tie another franchise record with five touchdowns with Beckham out in the 37-34 victory over the Bengals.
Mayfield and the Browns know they can’t replace No. 13, but they’re going to try as best they can.
“It is just awful to lose a guy like that,” Mayfield said. “We believe we have a great team so that is why we are going to ask these guys to step in and multiple guys to try and fill that void. We still are going to lean on this running game, we are still going to lean on this play action and trust these guys to make the one-on-one plays when they are there.
“Without him, there might not be as many one on one opportunities, but that means we just have to be more efficient in zone coverages and things like that to make those plays.”
The interception Mayfield threw Sunday, which came on his first pass attempt of the afternoon, was in Beckham’s direction.
Mayfield blamed himself for a poor throw.
He also knows they’re going to have to adjust what they do offensively without Beckham because how opponents play them will most certainly change without Beckham on the field.
“Not just because we do not have him but teams are going to play us differently,” Mayfield said. “I think it is about just understanding the looks we are getting and going through our offense based on the looks and just efficiently working through that.”