MIAMI -- Baker Mayfield isn't going to change who he is, but he did learn a good lesson from his second season.
Sometimes, it's best if he keeps his chip on his shoulder to himself.
"It's a humbling experience. It's a different ballgame," Mayfield said of his team's struggle-filled 2019 campaign during an appearance on ESPN's 'Get Up' in Miami. "Let's just be honest, I put my foot in my mouth a lot this past year. And I'm going to internalize that, and I think that's the way I need to handle it. Rest in peace Kobe, but that's the way he did it. He motivated himself, he didn't talk a lot, he talked to his teammates, drove them to be better people, better men. So that's the way I need to handle it. I don't need to respond to the things that don't matter, the things that don't help us win."
Seated directly next to him was a source of Mayfield's discontent, former Jets and Bills coach Rex Ryan, who once called the quarterback "overrated as hell" during the regular season. Mayfield responded publicly by pointing out Ryan's status as a television analyst, not a coach in the NFL. Later in the season, he firmly stated Ryan deserved no credit for the Browns' Week 4 win over the Baltimore Ravens.
The two made up Friday, with Mayfield admitting keeping his problems with outside noise to himself was likely the best course of action going forward.
The change of heart is part of Mayfield's growth as an NFL quarterback. After a successful rookie season, Mayfield regressed in year two, not uncommon but undoubtedly publicized due to Cleveland's high expectations. The quarterback went from posting a 27-14 TD:INT ratio and a 93.7 passer rating to a 22-21 mark and a 78.8 rating. Now that hopes for the Browns have fallen back to earth, Mayfield knows it's time to go to work, not talk, in 2020.
"I think where it comes along is I've always had a chip on my shoulder but I always played with an edge," Mayfield said. "But it didn't come around to people noticing it until the cameras were all around, until it was a big deal and I was getting a spotlight and people made a big deal of that. I just have to be me, I have to continue to do that. But I don't need to reply to the stuff on the outside."
He's right, of course, and saying all of the right things after struggling to succeed in 2019. Instead of Mayfield solidifying his place as the Browns' franchise quarterback, he opened the door for more questions and uncertainty surrounding the team's situation. With new head coach Kevin Stefanski now in charge, Mayfield will put his efforts toward improving and getting the Browns back on track instead of paying attention to what everyone else has to say about him and his teammates.
"We in our own building set our own expectations extremely high, much like everybody else thought, so it was disappointing for us," Mayfield said. "I wouldn't say that the outside noise affected us really. We might have paid a little bit of attention to it. But the talks that we had inside that locker room inside our building we're all about winning, they were all about heading in the right direction. So as soon as it went wrong, that's was the frustrating part. It was like, what is going on here? We all want this thing to work but it's not. Trying to find the problem and figure it out, it just kind of slipped past us."