The Cleveland Browns were supposed to be a contender to win the AFC this season after taking the leap last year to being a playoff team. With Baker Mayfield back with a full season under his belt in Kevin Stefanski’s offense, plenty of weapons around him including the expected return of Odell Beckham Jr., much of Cleveland’s attention in the offseason went to the defense.
However, eight weeks into the season and the Browns are 4-4, sitting in fourth in the AFC North and tied for seventh in the AFC, barely clinging to a playoff spot. Injuries have hit the Browns hard, but they also can’t seem to get out of their own way, with an offense that has seemingly taken a step back from last year. Baker Mayfield is at the center of that, with a lot of discussion shifting to how he seemingly can’t or won’t get the ball to his wide receivers, most notably Beckham Jr.
It has been a few weeks now of debate within Browns Twitter about whether there’s an issue between Mayfield and Beckham, and after a dismal 10-point performance in a loss to Pittsburgh on Sunday as Mayfield returned to play with a banged up left shoulder, the chatter only got louder. Tuesday, it reached a fever pitch when Odell Beckham Sr. posted an 11-minute long video someone made of his son being open only to see Mayfield either miss him or not throw him the ball — which you can watch in its entirety above.
The father of #Browns Odell Beckham Jr. posted an 11 minute video on Instagram today. The video showed multiple times that QB Baker Mayfield missed Odell Beckham Jr. Was also active in comments. pic.twitter.com/oFbJl4ExA9
— Brad Stainbrook (@BrownsByBrad) November 2, 2021
To say things are bad in Cleveland would seem to be an understatement, and the optics of all of this are very bad for everyone involved. Given OBJ’s reputation as a diva receiver, fair or not, having your father post videos about how you aren’t getting the ball enough isn’t a great look. The video also brings into question plenty about Baker’s abilities to run an offense to its maximum capacity, as there certainly are a lot of apparent missed opportunities — even if some of the plays in question aren’t really misses but OBJ coming open late in routes on the backside of plays.
All of this has led to Browns fans taking sides between Baker and OBJ, and many prominent fans, namely LeBron James, are in Beckham’s camp and want to #FreeOBJ.
With the trade deadline hours away, we’ll see if that happens, but for a Browns team that finally seemed ready to shake free of two decades of dysfunction, a relapse appears to be taking place.