If you bet against Baker Mayfield as an NFL quarterback, by now, you’ve likely hedged and he’s already turning you into a believer.
Mayfield tossed two touchdown passes during Saturday night’s 17-16 win at Denver and has the Cleveland Browns on the cusp of a Playoff berth for the first time since 2002, which currently sits as the NFL’s longest postseason drought.
As a rookie, last year’s Heisman winner from Oklahoma has helped the Browns (6-7-1) win four of their last five games and has already surpassed the 3,000-yard passing plateau this season. His former coach, Lincoln Riley, watches every game and backed Mayfield late Saturday on Twitter with a response to Troy Aikman, an analyst for Fox.
“Looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot of Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns in the years to come,” Aikman tweeted.
“You will,” Riley said.
You will- https://t.co/Ix6QqDuNP1
— Lincoln Riley (@LincolnRiley) December 16, 2018
Mayfield’s 2-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway with just under 12 minutes to play was the eventual game-winner.
“I think the tough environment, winning on the road’s the most important thing,” Mayfield said. “If we don’t take care of business tonight — and obviously we have to move on and take care of business next week — none of that matters. “So, being able to win on the road is something we’ve got to take pride in.”
Earlier this month, Mayfield said Riley is ready for the next level, too.
“Lincoln’s been ready, it’s just who he is and how he coaches and the respect level he’s had from all of his players, how detailed he is,” Mayfield said on a Cleveland radio station. “Yeah, he’s ready but that’s his decision and you know what, he’s got something special there so I don’t think anybody is going to blame him if he stays there for the next 20 years.”
It’s been rumored for weeks that Riley could land the Browns job during the offseason, but Oklahoma’s head coach denies any interest in leaving the Sooners.
“Obviously, you guys can take it how you want, I have a relationship with Lincoln,” Mayfield said. “He’s been great and we had success, but whatever decision is made here I’m going to make the most of it. Obviously, there’s been a level of comfortability with him in the past that I’ve had, but whatever happens happens. And you know what, you can’t control that so I’m not going to worry about it.”
Riley’s primary worry right now is preparing for Tua Tagovailoa and Alabama on Dec. 29 in the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma, equipped with Heisman winner Kyler Murray and the nation’s top offense, is a 14-point underdog against the defending national champions — its second straight crack at the SEC’s champion during bowl season.