Baker Mayfield has zero on-field chemistry with Odell Beckham, Jr. Never had it; never will. Chemistry can’t be built with a “no practice” guy like OBJ. Despite that, and according to everybody on the Browns, including Baker, OBJ will be starting for the Browns again this fall, kicking Rashard Higgins right back to the curb, no doubt.
In other words, a formula that got the Browns deep into the playoffs will be scrapped in favor of one that is statistically dogshit. Baker and OBJ were the worst QB/WR combo in 2019. They were terrible in the beginning of 2020 too. In the second half of 2020, Higgins replaced OBJ, and he and Baker played at an elite level for the rest of the season.
Obviously, we can’t have that…
…because the Browns are not a football team; but rather an OBJ cult of personality.
It is statistically irrefutable that the Browns are better without OBJ. And yet everybody is parading around acting like OBJ’s return is going to be a big boost for the Browns. That’s just plain crazy. But don’t take my word for it; it was ESPN who dropped the statistical nuke on OBJ.
Have you noticed that OBJ’s defenders never cite stats when they defend OBJ? That’s because OBJ’s stats with the Browns stink. What they do say is that ESPN’s work is a mere narrative; just a yarn spun from whole cloth by OBJ haters. Even Baker does that. Here’s what he said in a recent interview:
“The narrative can be what it is, but we’re looking forward to getting back to work together.”
Note to Baker: it’s not a narrative; it’s cold, hard stats. You and OBJ are a terrible duo. In fact, I would go so far as to speculate that if OBJ had stayed healthy in 2020, and Hig stayed on the bench, instead of picking up your fifth-year option, the team would have given up on you and traded you away. You, my friend, were saved by fate. This year, you have a chance to take matters into your own hands by demanding that Higgins be on the field instead of being a healthy scratch. Landry, Higgins, Njoku, that’s where your bread is buttered.
Sadly, Baker himself is a member of the OBJ cult and is doomed to regress this year. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…
Speaking of narratives, Baker spouts the official team narrative that it was the Bye Week “self scout” that took the offense to a higher level. But this narrative is child’s play to debunk. The Bye Week was Week 9, and Baker had his franchise-record 22-pass-completion streak in Week 7, only twelve minutes after OBJ left the game. Not a lot of time for a sideline self-scout in there, right? Baker went from being a mediocrity to being elite mere minutes after OBJ was out of his hair. For more details, see what I wrote here.
Can the Browns still win the Super Bowl with OBJ on the field? Probably not. The defense is poised to be greatly improved. And Coach Stefanski can go back to a more strict Kubiak-Shanahan implementation on offense, release the Two-Headed Monster, and minimize the poor play of Baker & OBJ. But winning the Super Bowl without an elite QB is just not a thing.
Note: I am a huge Baker fan, and it was fantastic watching him play so well last season, post-OBJ. And it will be heartbreaking to watch him go back to forcing ball-after-ball to OBJ again with half the balls going uncaught. But on the bright side, that will force the Browns to lean more on Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt who are just as much fun to watch. It will be a replay of Weeks 1-6 of the 2020 season, but with a much better defense. If you don’t get your hopes up about a Super Bowl, you should enjoy the season.