BEREA, Ohio — Baker Mayfield conceded he stared down former coach Hue Jackson during Sunday’s win over Cincinnati, but he was perplexed anyone would care.
Mayfield said different players lead in different ways.
“Everybody is competitive in a different way,” the rookie quarterback said Wednesday as the Cleveland Browns prepared for Sunday’s season finale in Baltimore. “I’m not trying to be anybody else. I’ve been who I am. That’s gotten me here. And I’m going to continue to do that because I try and improve every week and I have that same mindset.
“So, that’s why I said a few weeks ago [that] I’m not trying to get anybody’s approval. I’m trying to win football games and do this for as long as I can. That’s the goal. And the guys inside this locker room know that. They know that I would fight for them. They know that I would take a bullet for them. To me, that’s what matters.
“I don’t have to make any friends outside of this locker room. I’m not trying to do that. Once they’re in here, they know exactly what they’re gonna get. And that’s what really matters.”
Mayfield said he was asked at the combine if the way he carried himself on the field pushed limits and might be misperceived. He said any similar questions now bring the same answer: “Not one bit.”
“I’m not trying to be anybody else. I’ve been who I am. That’s gotten me here. And I’m going to continue to do that because I try and improve every week and I have that same mindset. … I don’t have to make any friends outside of this locker room. I’m not trying to do that. Once they’re in here, they know exactly what they’re gonna get. And that’s what really matters.”
Browns QB Baker Mayfield
Mayfield also said he did not recall another gesture after his touchdown pass to Darren Fells. He ran to the sideline and made an apparent lewd gesture toward offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens.
“I honestly couldn’t tell ya,” Mayfield said. “I don’t know. We have a lot of stuff within the locker room, what we have going on in the offense. Lot of inside jokes. Who knows what it was?”
The gesture probably wasn’t intended for the general public. But the reality in Mayfield’s world is that cameras will follow him during games, especially after he throws a touchdown.
Cameras followed Mayfield closely as he stared down Jackson in the final minutes. After a long completion to David Njoku, Mayfield ran along the Bengals sideline, saw Jackson — now an assistant in Cincinnati — and stared at him as he ran. Mayfield continued staring at Jackson as the quarterback sidestepped to the middle of the field, where he spun and then backpedaled while staring.
“I don’t get why people have a problem with football being a competitive sport,” Mayfield said. “You’re supposed to play with emotion, you’re supposed to play with passion. Quite honestly, if you don’t like it, whatever. Football’s not meant to be a soft game. Could care less.”
Interim coach Gregg Williams said any conversations he has with players remain private.
“We live on the edge, we play on the edge,” Williams said. “But we do not hurt the team.”
“We all love his [Mayfield’s] competitive fire,” middle linebacker Joe Schobert said. “He brings a lot of good stuff to the table.”
Baltimore can clinch a playoff spot with a win on Sunday. The Browns are trying to finish with six wins in the final seven games, which would put them over .500 for a season for the first time since 2007.
“They’re fighting for a playoff spot,” Mayfield said, “and we’re fighting to prove who we are.”
The Ravens had a similar chance in the season finale last season, but gave up a last-minute, fourth-down touchdown pass to the Bengals and were knocked out.
“It’s a lot of motivation,” Mayfield said of sending the Ravens home. “And it’s not just about them, it’s about us winning and going out on a high note. Even though the playoffs have been out of reach, it’s about us and that’s what it’s always been about. That’s the motivation, the true motivation. Taking care of business. Making sure that everybody knows that’s the standard around here.
“I keep talking about setting the standard, and winning is that standard. That’s the goal Sunday.”