Mayfield relishes leading Browns through turmoil

BEREA, Ohio — Baker Mayfield is well aware he may be relied upon as the guy to pull the Cleveland Browns through the aftermath of their midseason coaching change.

“Bring it on,” the rookie quarterback said Wednesday.

How the Browns deal with the adversity they face following the firing of coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley will reveal the team’s character, Mayfield said.

“With all the distractions, we will see what kind of men we have in this room. Not what kind of team that we have but what kind of men can handle a distraction the right way, can come together and focus on doing their job and doing it at a high level against a great team [the Kansas City Chiefs] come Sunday,” Mayfield said.

Gregg Williams will take over as the Browns’ interim coach, and Freddie Kitchens will be the interim offensive coordinator. Mayfield called the sudden changes his “welcome-to-the-business moment.”

“For me, it is definitely something new,” he said. “It caught me off guard, but [we] have to roll with the punches. Whatever happens, happens. We have to stick together as a team. We have to use this as something to make us come together. Obviously, it could be a huge distraction or it could be something that could bring this locker room even closer.”

Like many Browns quarterbacks before him, Mayfield has had a tumultuous rookie season. He did not start the first three games, then relieved Tyrod Taylor in Week 3 and led the Browns to a 21-17 win over the Jets, marking their first victory since December 2016.

An overtime victory over Baltimore in Week 5 lifted the Browns to 2-2-1, but the bottom dropped out soon after, as they lost three in a row — including a 33-18 loss in Pittsburgh on Sunday that cost Jackson and Haley their jobs for what owner Jimmy Haslam said was “internal discord.”

“For me, it being the first time I have experienced something like that midseason, was surprising on all fronts,” Mayfield said. “Specifically, it does not really matter if it was one or both. It was just surprising to me. I have never gone through anything like that.”

Mayfield said Williams’ first message to the team was “to stick together.”

“It is what it is, but we have to push forward,” Mayfield said. “We have a game this week, and that is the important part. We can either use it as an excuse to throw in the towel or to rise up and come together as a team.”

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