Browns' Mayfield to undergo surgery, sit out season finale

Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt (90) sacks Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) in the second half of an NFL football game, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Pittsburgh.

I end my daily radio show with the question, “Why am I smarter?” But, after watching the Browns lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football Jan. 3, I now ask, “Why am I watching?”

I’m shaking my head after Monday’s 26-14 loss to Pittsburgh. Losing to the Steelers was just another game the Browns should have won but did not. As a result, a season that started with great hope now leaves us with more questions than answers.

For instance, in what world does a team with one of the best running backs in Nick Chubb only get him the ball four times in the first half against the Steelers, who have the worst run defense in the league? I’m not a member of football Mensa, but come on.

It was a fitting tribute to Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who wraps up his career against the Browns with 26 wins and only 3 losses, along with one tie. After Monday night’s broadcast, I’m trying to do the math on how many times ESPN reminded us of his record and how often they made references of him going to the Hall of Fame, not to mention the number of “Ben is larger than life” moments in his tribute game in Pittsburgh.

But, the fact is he owned the Browns while he played in Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, the Browns drafted Kellen Winslow Jr. over “Big Ben” and he spent a career never letting us forget he was picked 11th in the 2004 NFL Draft. I wonder if then general manager/head coach Butch Davis loses sleep over it? I doubt it. Only Browns fans do.

Let’s not even get started on the fact the Browns have a 25-game losing streak when they are trailing by eight or more points going into the fourth quarter. Baker Mayfield just needed to bring the Browns back twice this season from such a deficit to cash in on a big paycheck. He was unable to do it and now he will need to prove himself again.

Who knows? The Browns could go out and get a veteran quarterback next season.

And that’s just the beginning of a slew of problems for this team. There’s also the penalties, dropped passes, a lack of protection for the quarterback, a quarterback who is not leading his team and a team that lacks an identity. Add to that a head coach who blames himself for everything and who has all the feel of a play caller that completely leans on analytics to win games.

It’s no wonder that, in a league where they basically hand you 21 points for just walking on the field, the Browns have done that just nine times in 17 games.

Saying the Browns have work to do this offseason might be the understatement of the year. Looking ahead, I hope Baker gets his bad arm fixed ASAP and I hope Kevin Stefanski, who will be in the hot seat next year, has learned something this season. And hopefully the excuse train has left the station. Stefanski needs to figure out why he is smarter and if Baker Mayfield can play better.

But, the most interesting offseason question will be if owners Jimmy and Dee Haslem will have the patience to stick with both Mayfield and Stefanski. It feels like it’s third-down and 10 for both next year. Wait. Hang on, with the number of pre-snap penalties the Browns committed this season, it’s more like third-down and 20. And there’s no need for instant replay to review that thought.

Future bright for Bengals

You really need to tip your cap to the Cincinnati Bengals. After getting shelled by the Browns 41-16 Nov. 7, Cincinnati won five of their next seven games.

With Big Ben retiring, the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson beat up and waiting on a new contract and Baker Mayfield’s cloudy future, Joe Burrow is the quarterback to beat in the AFC North. Now consider where the Bengals were a year ago. All kinds of hope with a rookie quarterback in Burrow who was getting killed every play. They ended up with just four wins and a QB who needed surgery and a ton of rehab. But, now, after outlasting the Kansas City Chiefs Jan. 2, they won the AFC North.

Now there are high hopes in Cincinnati with nothing but the playoffs ahead. Given that, I would keep the key players out of the final regular season game against the Browns Jan. 9. They need to get rest and get healthy before the playoffs start.


If you have a suggestion for a column idea for Andy Baskin, send him an email at columnists@cjn.org. He can be heard on “Baskin & Phelps” weekdays on 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland at audacy.com.

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