Note: I have been criticizing Odell Beckham, Jr. long before his tragic injury on Sunday. (See what I wrote about him back in April). And at the risk of appearing insensitive, I need to continue campaigning against OBJ because I think the Browns are better without him, and should trade him as soon as another team will have him.
At the end of the 2018 season, Baker Mayfield was Football Jesus in Cleveland. Then the Browns traded for Odell Beckham, Jr. who we later discovered to be Football Poison, and Baker was cast into Football Hell where he languished as the very worst quarterback in the NFL in 2019.
Baker wasn’t doing much better in 2020, until OBJ was removed from the scene. Then Baker completed a franchise record 22 passes in a row.
Do you think that was a coincidence? I don’t.
My theory all along has been that OBJ’s celebrity created a Steve Job’s style “reality distortion field” that clouded Baker’s mind. Just as soon as that field was switched off, his mind cleared, and Baker went back to being his true self: a Heisman Trophy caliber quarterback.
Most of Baker’s 22 passes went to 2018-vintage Bake-Packers: Jarvis Landry, Rashard Higgins, and David Njoku, all of which Baker has good chemistry with. Baker also hit rookies Harrison Bryant and Donovan Peoples-Jones. Does that mean that Baker has good chemistry with them too? Yes; yes it does.
Here’s the thing: chemistry is the rule, not the exception.
The exception is narcissistic personalities like OBJ, who regardless of talent, simply cannot gel with a team. Normal athletes will play better-and-better with each other as time goes on, more-or-less automatically.
Even worse was the fact that Baker was a young man when OBJ arrived. If he were more seasoned he might not have been as affected by OBJ’s demands for the ball, and the sports media’s amplification of those demands.
In any case, Baker is now free to re-ascend into Football Heaven where he had previously spent his entire life before OBJ came to town.
Note: There are people saying that nobody can fill Beckham’s shoes because of his crazy skills. Did these people not see the Cincinnati game? OBJ’s shoes were filled immediately. We saw spectacular catches from Njoku, Higgins, and DPJ, a great throw by Landry, and two TDs by Bryant. A few games ago, we saw Kareem Hunt make an acrobatic, one-handed catch. During the last game against the Bengals last year, we saw Nick Chubb make an unbelievable TD catch.
The Browns are just oozing with talent. With OBJ exorcised from the team other players are free to dazzle.
Note: Let the record show that the Browns passing-game worsened substantially after OBJ joined the team. In 2018, the Browns had the #13 passing offense in the league. After OBJ joined the team in 2019, the Browns dropped to #21. You can blame that on Freddie Kitchens if you want, but how does that explain that the Browns are only #18 here in 2020 after a major coaching upgrade?
Note: I wish OBJ a speedy, and full recovery, and that he gets many targets on his next team after he is hopefully traded. I think the Browns will finish strong, just like in 2018, and management will feel, at a minimum, reluctant to repeat the OBJ debacle.