Baker Mayfield spoke for the first time this offseason Wednesday, and it wasn't by mistake.
Mayfield has intentionally remained quiet in the months following the most disappointing Browns season in over a decade. None of these Browns are prancing about and asking for attention during this offseason, an approach that would've been likely even if the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic didn't happen.
They're still busy getting the bitter taste of humble pie out of their mouths.
"Everybody that has been interviewed on our team has kind of hit the nail on the head over and over about, it's time to work," Mayfield told reporters Wednesday. "It's time to do our thing instead of talking about it.
"I guess this is the first media thing I've done just because there's no need to be talking about it, it's just time to go do it. And right now it's kind of moving in silence, which is fine with me. That's how I used to do it before getting on a bigger stage, so I'm happy to get back to those roots, and like I said earlier, get back to the fundamentals to where I can accomplish the goals for when the season comes around."
About this time last year, all the Browns did was talk. There was Mayfield's interview with ESPN, including accompanying photos of the quarterback leading a pack of dogs on leashes, and his photoshoot with a tiger. There was Damarious Randall's bold proclamation that those Browns were good enough to go from just talking playoffs to talking Super Bowl. There was even the receiving duo of Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry appearing on the cover of Sports Illustrated, which proclaimed the Browns were "back".
The Browns' media day meetings featured visits from all three major networks carrying NFL football, with each outlet occupying space in or near the team's Berea headquarters for production shoots and the like. It was a media madhouse for a team that typically doesn't get visited by more than one of the outlets, let alone three. A lot of what was shot by the in-house media team on that day was never used (or at least used often), as the team fell incredibly short of its expectations. Visions of touchdown dances and euphoric seas of orange and brown never came to life.
In a few short months, the Browns went from lovable losers to a promising bunch to a team about which most of the country was tired of hearing. When they faltered, the rest of the league reveled in their failure. The Browns had no one but themselves to blame for the negative noise, either -- they'd repeatedly asked for the attention.
They're doing the opposite this time around, focusing instead on installing and learning new coach Kevin Stefanski's offense (under the direction of offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt), getting healthy and preparing to take a measured, consistent and hopefully productive approach to the 2020 season. Some analysts have wisely pointed out that folks shouldn't forget about the Browns just because they went down in a ball of flames last season; they're still just as talented, if not more. It's just they aren't leading the A block of programming on major sports networks this time around.
It sounds as if Mayfield, the quarterback whose confidence sometimes borders on cocky, prefers to stay out of the spotlight. He has a new reason to believe doubters again exist. He needn't look further than the Browns' schedule -- and to their division rivals in Maryland.