I'll admit, I fell for the Baker-Mania too. How could I not? When he stepped onto the field last year against the Jets he was electric at a time when the Browns had as much electricity as a primitive campground. What transpired was an inspirational season where the Browns had not been eliminated until we were well into the second half of the season. That's been rare for the Browns for quite a while.
What came next was nothing short of hysteria in Northeast Ohio, talks of replacing LeBron's building mural with Baker, breaking down the chances of making the playoffs because the Steelers seemed to be imploding and then over-hyped expectations when Odell Beckham Jr joined the squad.
As is almost always the case in pro sports, when a team gets all the hype and they double down on it with bravado (see "if you don't wear Orange you don't matter") what comes next is a lesson in humility. If you don't think every NFL team, full of grown men, won't bring their best effort every time they play the Browns then you haven't watched enough pro football. You think the Titans were expected to drop a 50 burger in week 1 against a very stiff defense? They were not, and for proof check the betting odds at game time....because last I checked Vegas is rarely that wrong.
In this day and age we love to be able to blame a single source but this is football, there's a ton of moving parts. On one hand, Baker has pretty miserable stats (57% completion; 3 TD; 5 INT; 805 yards; 70.3 RTG - resulting in 5th worst rating in league so far). Then again, the offensive line has been embarrassing. Often if Baker's first option is covered he's already being pressured and needs to scramble.
Then there's Freddie Kitchens. You know, the Browns' former offensive line coach once said this offseason that Kitchens wasn't the offensive mastermind from last year, rather it was the Quarterbacks coach. Maybe he wasn't lying, maybe it wasn't sour grapes. Honestly, how do you call a draw play on 4th and 9 late in the game? They also called an All Seam route with 4 receivers on 3rd down (the play prior) when the Rams have Aaron Donald. Odell had to run 30-35 yards before even turning to look for the ball. Did they really think there was time for that? They only needed 5-6 yards to make 4th down manageable. Why did you freeze out OBJ? The Browns' staff realizes he catches everything right? It didn't dawn on them that maybe they should try just once to lob one up when they were desperate, and see if he can make a play?
Then there's Jimmy Haslam, the owner, who's famous for two things - scamming customers and making colossal errors in judgement his first few years as team owner. It just seems to me that when Greg Williams was interim coach and Kitchens was offensive coordinator and that combination was working, that maybe, just MAYBE you'd want to keep that chemistry going for at least a full season. Why did he feel the need to blow that combination up and lose a big chunk of his staff in the process? Then again, we're talking about an owner that forced Hue Jackson to draft Johnny Manziel against his will because a homeless man told him to and he thought that was a sign.
None of this even takes into account that they needed four new defensive backs to start against the Rams due to injuries. And here they are about to travel to Baltimore and San Francisco, home against Seattle and travel to Foxboro with a 1-2 record when everyone assumed they would be 2-1 right now. This team could very easily be 1-6 at the end of October, ouch!
The Browns do not look like the confident team they sounded like in the off-season, and the change will only happen if the leaders take charge and now over-perform. That starts with Baker and Kitchens, one must play out of his mind like he did at times last year and the other needs to coach way better. And for the love of all that's holy figure out how to get the ball to Chubb and Beckham more than you have so far. If you don't then expect OBJ to go back to his New York tantrums and the "is Cleveland cursed" talks to start back up. Time will tell, but the 2019 window could be closed by mid-season.