Baker Mayfield on how Daniel Jones can thrive: ‘Don’t care what the doubters say’

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CLEVELAND — Baker Mayfield and Daniel Jones talked through it.

A 2020 offseason Giant players trip to Austin, Texas, hosted by then-Giants backup Colt McCoy, afforded Mayfield and Jones the opportunity to squash any beef.

So there’s no lingering awkwardness, Mayfield said, from his 2019 comment to GQ that he “cannot believe the Giants took Daniel Jones” in the NFL Draft.

“We’re great,” Mayfield said Friday at the team’s facility in Berea, Ohio. “He came down to Austin when Colt was with the Giants. We all hung out. No, we’re good. Talked through that.”

Now, though, Jones is entering Year 3 with the same kind of pressure to prove himself as a franchise QB that Mayfield faced in 2020.

Mayfield doesn’t have his second NFL contract yet, but he took the Browns to the playoffs in his third year with 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions. And he has perspective on how to make that all-important leap from converting doubters to believers.

“I mean, I don’t care what the doubters say,” Mayfield said. “You have to have self confidence. You have to trust the people in your corner. It goes along with setting expectations. You set your own. You live up to that standard. And you have to hold yourself accountable to that every day. That’s the key to it. If you get caught up on the outside, if I was listening to the B.S., then I’d probably be done and not playing. So I just focus on me.”

Mayfield, 26, wasn’t and isn’t always able to block out the noise.

After he threw 21 INTs to 22 TDs for a 6-10 Browns team in 2019, he admitted that “not having that success, not finding out what was working, I think I tried different ways of trying to have that success, and I didn’t find it. I lost myself in that, and I wasn’t able to be who I [needed to be] for those guys.”

Jones, 24, was diplomatic when asked recently what he can learn from 2018 draftees Mayfield and Josh Allen, admitting he can learn from them. But he exhibited the same focus Mayfield said is required, too: the focus on his own play.

“I’m focused on improving myself and making sure that I’m in a position to play well and this offense is in a position to play well,” Jones said.

One of the biggest keys to Mayfield’s Year 3 jump was new coach Kevin Stefanski installing an offense that steered away from the undersized Mayfield’s weaknesses and accentuated his strengths with play action and rollouts. That helped Mayfield make better decisions and play efficiently off a strong running game rather than taking chances while trapped in the pocket.

The Giants’ hope is that Jones’ second year in Jason Garrett’s system will create familiarity that puts a jolt into his production and consistency, and reinforces their belief in him.

PAINS AND HURTS IN PHILLY

Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts was a sudden scratch from Friday night’s 35-0 preseason loss to the New England Patriots due to what the team said was a “stomach infection.” Hurts had been on the field in uniform dancing during warmups, though, and his condition was only called an illness initially before his diagnosis at a local hospital. Hurts’ situation, followed by poor QB play by backups Joe Flacco and Nick Mullens, had Eagles fans apoplectic after watching a horrible on-field product. New coach Nick Sirianni seems to have an incredibly fast and exciting young receiving corps. Devonta Smith, who made his preseason debut, was lightning off the line alongside fellow wideouts Jalen Reagor and Quez Watkins. But Hurts’ illness and the Eagles’ plight at backup QB has Philly uneasy ... In Dallas, meanwhile, Dak Prescott (shoulder) sat out a third straight preseason game Saturday night. He has only one opportunity to play in an exhibition game on Aug. 29 against the Jaguars.

FBI ON WATSON

The Eagles’ QB plight and ample draft assets reinforce why they were among the leading contenders to trade for Deshaun Watson prior to his cascade of legal issues. But now the Houston Texans QB is also being investigated by the FBI, as first reported by the website League of Justice and lawyer Amy Dash. Watson’s attorney Rusty Hardin at first discredited the claims of the FBI’s involvement made to Dash by Tony Buzbee, the lawyer for 22 women who have sued Watson for sexual assault and misconduct. But later Hardin validated them, though he claimed the FBI was focused on whether one of Buzbee’s clients had attempted to extort Watson. The Texans, meanwhile, have pulled Watson off the practice field entirely and are not making him available to the media. This from the same organization that tried to close camp early to the press.

NO BORING DAYS IN JAX

Urban Meyer’s painful transition to the NFL continues. He lamented after a preseason loss to the Browns that teams rein too much back in exhibitions, from limiting player snaps to keeping gameplans bland to conceal strategies. “So much I hear, ‘We can’t show this, can’t show this, can’t show this,’” Meyer said. “I don’t want to get into it, but I want to go some tempo and I’m used to certain things. What you saw [against the Browns] is not what we’re going to be. I think sometimes coaches [say], ‘We can’t show this, we can’t show that,’ and I’m like, ‘Why? Tell me. Explain to me why.” … Meanwhile, Meyer wisely cut tight end Tim Tebow after a pathetic preseason opener that reinforced how much of a charade this was in the first place. Those minimizing this as a harmless experiment are overlooking how that looked to NFL players. It was a slap in every unemployed player’s face that Tebow was even on a roster, and it would have become a bigger problem if Meyer hadn’t cut him immediately.

COVID REARING ITS HEAD IN NFL

Arizona Cardinals guard Justin Pugh, a former Giant, tested positive for COVID-19 this week even though he is vaccinated. So Pugh sounded off on Twitter: “Hey @NFL we need daily testing for vaccinated and non vaccinated players. I was vaccinated and still got covid. As of now vaccinated players test every 14 days. That’s not enough! Who knows how long I walked around the building with it or whoever I got it from! Fix this ASAP.” The NFL players’ union wants the league to do daily testing like it did in 2020. Unvaccinated players urged the union to push for this early in the summer. The NFL is threatening forfeits and loss of salary if a game is canceled due to an outbreak that starts with an unvaccinated player testing positive, and many players were skeptical how the league could accurately determine that without daily testing. It’s interesting that the union is pushing this hard for daily testing while not requiring its players to get the vaccine … Giants co-owner John Mara said this week: “I prefer that everybody be vaccinated. I would’ve preferred that it would have been mandatory for players to get vaccinated, but the players association did not share that view, so we are where we are, which is not a bad spot to be in. We’re over 90 percent [with Giants players]. Obviously, I’d like it to be 100 percent because I think it’s the right thing to do.” ... Bills offensive tackle Dion Dawkins waited too long to get his COVID vaccine, so he caught it before he was fully vaccinated and felt its full force. “I don’t wanna scare anybody but there was moments where I was like I don’t know if I’m gonna make this,” Dawkins said this week. “I was down bad where I could barely move and I was just hurting. If I was fully [vaccinated] I think it would have been a little bit easier on myself.” … NFL legend Barry Sanders tweeted that he has tested positive despite being fully vaccinated, but is symptom free … The Atlanta Falcons became the first NFL team this week to reach a 100% vaccination rate among players. They did it by cutting their two remaining unvaccinated players, per ProFootballTalk … Mara said “as of right now, there’s no plans” to require fan vaccinations (like the Raiders) or masks indoors (like the Eagles) at MetLife Stadium games this fall. It’s still on track for 100% capacity, too. “But if you ask me that question again in a week or two, I may give you a different answer. It’s a fluid situation.” It will depend on the CDC and State of New Jersey guidelines. For now, the plan is to open MetLife Stadium at full capacity with no vaccine or mask requirements for fans.

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