Odell Beckham Jr. owns many pairs of the shoes Baker Mayfield is walking in this week.
Throughout his career, Beckham has been the subject of media scrutiny on several occasions. Whether he caught flack for partying on a boat, fighting with Josh Norman or abusing the Giants’ kicking net, Beckham understands the pressure Mayfield felt after his 119-yard, two-interception performance during last week’s 38-7 loss against Pittsburgh AP .
Through those experiences, Beckham has learned that each player handles it differently. One factor he’s sure can help, though, is teammate support.
Beckham offered that publicly after Stephen A. Smith suggested that Beckham and Jarvis Landry should request trades because of Mayfield’s inability to get them the ball.
“I have Baker’s back,” Beckham said Wednesday when asked about Smith’s comments. “It’s all just background noise. Really don’t have much to say about it.”
Beckham is one of many voices inside the Browns locker room who have voiced their support for Mayfield in light of the criticism Mayfield is facing. Center JC Tretter said Mayfield has “100 percent support” in the Browns locker room and that he didn’t feel it necessary to encourage Mayfield after Sunday’s loss.
“I think Baker is fine,” Tretter said. “He’s a pro. He’s good a football player. Not worried at all about him and how he responds.”
The support didn’t stop there. Left guard Joel Bitonio, the Browns’ evergreen veteran locker room presence, put the blame for Sunday’s offensive performance on Mayfield’s pass protection.
Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt said Mayfield’s “arrow” is still trending upward, especially considering how new Mayfield is to Van Pelt and head coach Kevin Stefanski’s offense. Van Pelt hopes that Mayfield will focus his energy on the feedback his coaches give him rather than the critiques from outside sources.
“I am sure there is a lot of pressure,” Van Pelt said. “One thing that I have told him, one of the biggest steps I made as a coach was not listening to anything and just trusting the internal criticism that you get from your coaches. Those are the ones that matter. Everybody from the outside really does not have a great idea of what is going on inside. Be tough on yourself, but turn off that outside noise.”
That ideology doesn’t mesh perfectly with how Mayfield has previously operated. He’s always relished his underdog role and found motivation in his doubters, be they in-house or outside voices.
This is the same quarterback who stared down Hue Jackson when the fired Browns coach joined the Bengals, after all. And he’s been known to respond to his critics on social media.
When Mayfield himself was asked about the criticism he’s faced this week, he chose a different tact earlier this week. “I don’t give a damn what they have to say,” he said.
Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter. However Mayfield processes this week’s storm of skeptics, the only thing that can vindicate him is rebounding from last week’s loss with a strong performance against the Bengals.
Or, as his skepticism-savvy receiver put it:
“We will see on Sunday how he responds,” Beckham said. “It is not about what happened to you. It is about how you respond. I’m sure he’s ready to go and he’s fired up.”
Source: Forbes – Business