Picks no cause for concern for Baker Mayfield, Browns

BEREA, Ohio -- In a year when every snap matters and every game is a learning experience, Baker Mayfield now faces rebounding from a three-interception half in Houston.

In a sense, he already has.

Mayfield threw three picks and had just 46 yards in the first half of the Cleveland Browns' loss to the Texans on Sunday, but he followed that with a 350-yard, one-touchdown second half.

For that reason, the Browns do not worry about Mayfield, nor do they feel he needs any kind of heart-to-heart talk.

"At this level, at this time of his life, if there has to be a super message, it is the wrong guy, and [he] is not," interim coach Gregg Williams said.

Mayfield conceded he simply made bad throws and bad decisions on the interceptions, especially the third one.

"All of them were my fault when it comes down to it," Mayfield said. "But there are certain things that we can all do better."

Mayfield said he needed to use his eyes to move Zach Williams away from the first pick (which Williams returned for a touchdown) and to be smarter on the second throw, which was intercepted in part because wideout Antonio Callaway did not come for back the ball aggressively.

The third, intended deep for David Njoku, was just a bad decision.

"Inexcusable," Mayfield said. "We just have to be more precise."

The three interceptions were a high for Mayfield this season, and the first he has thrown since the loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on Nov. 4. Even with the productive second half, the turnovers made his rating for the Houston game 75.4, almost half what he had against Atlanta's and Cincinnati’s struggling pass defenses.

Gregg Williams said that veteran coordinator Romeo Crennel used deeper drops to take away some of the routes Mayfield likes, but Mayfield attributed the picks to the Texans’ talent.

"They were just athletic," Mayfield said. "Playing a team like that when they have athletic guys, they can drop into coverage with certain packages. You just have to be smart. You have to take kind of the dink and dunk passes until they give you some of the stuff down the field that you were getting later in the game. It is just playing smart when you play a team like that."

Tim Couch won one game as a rookie starter, and he threw 15 touchdowns. But after throwing for a touchdown on the final play of a bad late-season loss, Couch emphasized that every rep mattered to his growth.

Mayfield is in the same spot. His 18 touchdowns already have broken Otto Graham’s team rookie record (when Graham was in the AAFC), and Mayfield's passer rating has risen steadily and now is 91.3. Couch was 73.2 as a rookie.

Mayfield has four games left, the final quarter of the season. In the first, he faces the Carolina Panthers' Cam Newton, who threw four interceptions against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

"Obviously, you never have a perfect day, and everybody has the bad days," Mayfield said. "I am working to eliminate [turnovers]. Instead of having three, eliminate that and take care of the ball. Stuff happens. People can make plays. It is the NFL. The talent level is obviously very high.

"Just doing the best I can to eliminate those bad days and being consistent is the most important part."