Chargers bottle up Mayfield, Browns’ offense
CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield and the Browns got grounded.
A week after he led Cleveland to a thrilling overtime win, the Browns rookie quarterback was bottled up and bashed on Sunday by the Los Angeles Chargers, who rolled to a convincing 38-14 win in a game they controlled from the start.
Mayfield was sacked five times, threw two interceptions, rolled his ankle and showed inexperience as a pro in his third NFL start.
There were no sensational plays — rookie wide receivers Antonio Callaway and Damion Ratley missed scoring chances — and more bad than good from the No. 1 overall pick, who accepted much of the responsibility for his team’s shaky performance.
“We did not execute. We did not do our job. We were not detailed. We did not do the things that we talked about all week,” Mayfield said. “That is the most disappointing thing. Anytime you do not do your job — I am at fault for majority of that. I am going to be very hard on myself.
“We have to be able to look at this and learn from it. We have to be more prepared coming into the next week. It does not matter what happened. It does not matter the buzz. You have to do your job each week or else.”
The Browns (2-3-1) were soundly beaten in all three phases by the Chargers (4-2), who led 35-6 in the third quarter. Cleveland’s win last week over Baltimore triggered a surge of national attention directed at the Browns and their early season turnaround after they lost all 16 games last season.
Even star rapper Snoop Dogg dropped in on one of their passes during the week.
The Chargers knocked the Browns back to reality. They’re still a work in progress.
Cleveland’s defense was gashed for 246 yards rushing as the Chargers reeled off seven plays of 20 yards or longer.
“Disappointed,” said coach Hue Jackson. “I take responsibility for it. Myself and the coaching staff, I have to. Have to play better.”
Mayfield completed 22 of 46 passes for 238 yards and two interceptions, the first coming on the first play of the second half. But aside from his statistics, there were times when he either held onto the ball too long or made poor decisions.
Unlike previous weeks when he bought himself time by moving in the pocket, Mayfield wasn’t as mobile after he slipped on a sideline marker after scrambling in the first half.
“Obviously, that was not very good on my part,” he said. “Have to get the ball out. I have to make it easier on our guys, case and point. We have to take care of the ball — we, as in, I do. I have to put us in position to win. Coming out in the second half, we were not out of the game. Defense gets a good stop and then first play, I throw a pick. Can’t do it. Can’t happen. I will be the first to correct my stuff.”
He also didn’t get help from Callaway and Ratley as both missed chances to make TD catches in the first half.
Callaway appeared to short-arm a throw into the end zone, while Ratley let Mayfield’s pass slip through his hands on a perfectly executed flea flicker.
“I should have caught it,” Ratley said. “I think I should have caught everything.”
Callaway said: “If I’d have left my feet earlier and dove, I probably would have caught it. The ball came on me late.”
Mayfield supported his young teammates, but made it clear they should have made the plays.
“Those are young guys,” he said. “We each have to play the next play. During the game, that is what you tell them. When we talk about it now, we have to have those. Those are the types of plays that we have to have. When you get your opportunity, you have to take advantage of it.”
“We could very well have had a couple of things go our way in the first half, we execute and we would have been it in. We just have to do our job.”
Jackson wanted to reserve judging Mayfield’s outing.
But his first look was enough to tell him his QB needs to be better.
“I just need to see the tape, see if we had guys open and see what the rush looked like and felt like to him,” he said. “It was not one of his better days. At the same time, I thought that there were some other things that he did well. We have to take the good and grow from that, and we have to take the bad and get it fixed.”