Fast games

Case Keenum set to start for Browns vs. Steelers, not Baker Mayfield

CLEVELAND – It’s just a few OGs that have followed the Browns for six decades talking, but …

Baker Mayfield is the man.

Mayfield, when in good health, is the man at the quarterback this year if he can come back.

Mayfield, if he is in good health, is the quarterback next year.

Mayfield, if he’s in good health, is QB1 to the point that it’s becoming clear that it’s not worth blowing up the salary cap to keep him.

It would be in the interest of anyone who wears orange to prove that it is worth more than two decades.

Count me among those who believe he could prove it, among those who hope he will, among those who see him as the perfect fit for Cleveland, if his health and performance deteriorates.

I’m not a doctor, but here’s a third opinion anyway.

Baker is a wreck.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield watches during the first half of the NFL team's football game against the Denver Broncos on Thursday, October 21, 2021, in Cleveland.  (AP Photo / Ron Schwane)

You didn’t have to be a shoulder specialist to believe it following the team’s rotten game against Arizona.

Mayfield’s demeanor at his post-game press conference was that of a man who had just had two failed root canal treatments without medication as a sharp stick was dislodged from his left eye.

The only thing harder to watch than the Arizona game was this press conference.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) walks on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos on Thursday, October 21, 2021, in Cleveland.  (AP Photo / David Richard)

He looked like he had a cotton ball in his cheek as he gave one painful response after another. You knew then that he didn’t belong in the Thursday night football game any more than he did in Playhouse Square singing the opera.

It was a good thing that Case Keenum was called up to face the Broncos, a better thing that he played well, and the best thing the Browns won one night by losing absolutely wouldn’t do.

The upcoming schedule should have Keenum playing against Pittsburgh, and if that turns into a win, playing next week in Cincinnati, and if it’s another win, for the No.5 to win once. more in New England. Then see how Mayfield’s body evolves.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Case Keenum (5) celebrates a 4-yard touchdown by running back Ernest Johnson in the first half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos on Thursday, 21 October 2021, in Cleveland.  (AP Photo / David Richard)

The calendar for n ° 6? Mayfield should be in a hot tub on Mondays, in a cold tub on Tuesday, in a hot tub on Wednesday, or in another tub if that’s what doctors suggest, and away from the field for a while.

Hard is one thing. Stupid is another.

Give the child a break. Assure him he’s the man when he’s relatively healthy, and maybe excuse him he’s been allowed out when he’s not healthy.

Mayfield looked really good for long stretches as the team set a 12-6 record in 2020.

He looked even better in the opening opening midday in Kansas City.

Ever since he was mutilated while making a tackle after throwing a pickaxe on a bad road taken by a recruit, he has watched …

Well …

Remember Mayfield’s first appearance for the Browns? He came in as an injury substitute with the Browns behind the Jets 14-0 and the game looked hopeless. The child’s first three passes, all lasers hitting the exact spot, literally made the crowd gasp.

Compare that to the first few moments against Arizona. None of his early throws, mostly dinks, were on the money. The writing was on the wall.

Keenum was making his living in dinks against Denver. The result was victory, with massive help from D’Ernest Johnson, of course, but also because Keenum’s shorts were just on point.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Case Keenum throws a touchdown during the second half of an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos on Thursday, October 21, 2021, in Cleveland.  (AP Photo / David Richard)

Kevin Stefanski called his best game of 2021. It was the best of the Browns’ four home performances this year. Second place was not tight.

Johnson ran 22 times for 146 yards. It was a beast. In the midst of the Browns’ nasty explosion of injuries, he was just what they needed.

Keenum too.

The night turned risky when Teddy Bridgewater led the Broncos to 17-14 with five minutes left. Was anyone convinced the defense would stop him if Denver forced a punt?

Johnson was the star of the knockout that was the last series. Keenum, however, started off with an 8-yard run to Austin Hooper in the first game. On a second and four, Keenum blasted all the tension with a 7-yard dart towards Jarvis Landry.

At that time, time was running out. Denver was burning wait times.

Keenum is 33 years old. He’s the same age Rich Gannon was when he went from being a Rescue Fellow to being a great performer with the Raiders.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Case Keenum warms up before an NFL football game against the Denver Broncos on Thursday, October 21, 2021, in Cleveland.  Quarterback Baker Mayfield, left, and head coach Kevin Stefanski watch.  (AP Photo / David Richard)

Between 33 and 36, Gannon posted a 41-23 record as a starter and at 36 he was in a Super Bowl as a league MVP. For what it’s worth, his head coach in his MVP season was Bill Callahan, now a key man on Stefanski’s staff.

I don’t think Keenum is heading for a Gannon-style run, although I also think he thinks he could be, for someone.

I think Keenum should start against the Steelers no matter what medics say about Mayfield’s availability.

Contact Steve at [email protected]

On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP


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