AFC Notes: Bengals, Browns, Baker Mayfield, Steelers


Bengals HC Zac Taylor praised the team’s ownership for their ability to see his plan and the open communication throughout the team’s rebuilding process.

They’re present, and they see it,” Taylor said, via SI’s Albert Breer. “They’re at practice every day, and they see it. And we meet and we communicate about games, players. They don’t want to get into that, but it allows for us to operate how you should operate any team or business, where there’s open communication, and that way you don’t go three or four weeks without speaking and then you hit some tough bumps in the road and everyone panics. Everyone knows what the plan is. Everyone’s on the same page. I just love it here. I love it. I love everything about it, and it’s allowed us to build this thing the right way and create a really solid foundation to continue to build off of. This year, and years in the future… These coaches, the criticism doesn’t bother us. The job security thing doesn’t bother us. It bothers you when it affects your family, but I just got belief in these guys that we picked to be here and coach these players. Not many organizations allow you to have the patience to stick with the plan that you believe in. Usually, two years, there’s not great success on the field, you gotta make a change or else. Or else. And that’s just not the way that Mike Brown operates, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. Because he stuck by us, he’s been patient with us, he understands the vision we’ve had. … It’s a special place to be a part of, and you leave—every time you interact with Mike or anybody else—wanting to win for them. They’ve invested their whole lives in this, and they’ve been great to me and supportive of me, given us everything we’ve needed. And again, this is just the beginning. That’s what our players and coaches have been preaching. This is just the first step to some really great things in our future.


Browns QB Baker Mayfield was sacked a ridiculous nine times in Monday night’s loss to the Steelers, four of which came from defensive player of the year candidate T.J. Watt. After the game, Mayfield’s frustrations boiled over.  

“Obviously their front’s pretty good, has been for years,” Mayfield said via’s Mary Kay Cabot. “But when you’ve got T.J. Watt over there and we’re not giving our rookie tackle a whole lotta help, it’s not going to be good for us.”

Browns fourth-round OT James Hudson was abused the entire night, something the MNF broadcast pointed out on multiple occasions. 

“It’s just a matter of looking at the game plan and what we like,” Mayfield said. “Seeing if some of those plays are adjustable to be able to bring just a little extra help, chipping him or staying people in protection. Just discussions on the fly — which this is the NFL — you have to be able to adapt mid-game and we didn’t do a good enough job, as you could tell.”

Hudson was only in the game because starting RT Jack Conklin was lost for the season. Injuries have been one of the themes for the Browns this season but Mayfield still believes that’s not an excuse, either for him as a player or the offensive staff in terms of game planning. 

“We’ve obviously been pretty banged up,” he said. “When it comes to what we’ve had to deal with all season, there’s been a lot of ups and downs. Do I believe I could play better? Absolutely. Do I believe there’s positions that we as an offense could’ve been put in that are better? Absolutely. There’s so many critiques throughout the year, if there wasn’t, we wouldn’t be sitting here at 7-9. So it is what it is.”

  • Browns HC Kevin Stefanski said that many sacks falls on him as a head coach and he needs to do better: “You know, he was battling in there. Again, that’s on me — that many sacks, that’s on me.”
  • Mayfield added he’s not criticizing Hudson, he just thinks a fourth-round rookie deserves more help against a player like Watt: “I believe in James. We’re talking about an All-Pro that he’s going up against and he hasn’t had very many starts. So I’m proud of James, he kept swinging, he kept fighting.”
  • Stefanski added he doesn’t regret playing Mayfield through his injury: “It’s a fair question, but I would tell you each one of those days … decisions … we go on the information available. That’s how we made the decision each week.” (Tony Grossi)
  • Mayfield is expected to be healthy by OTAs following his shoulder surgery. (Jake Trotter)
  • Mayfield said dealing with internal issues has been “tricky” because he’s had to “fix some of the relationships in the building.” (Grossi)
  • Regarding the general lack of carries for Browns RB Nick Chubb, Stefanski noted he suffered a rib injury early on that was a factor: “He got a little banged up with a rib injury. He was able to play through it, but he needed some rest.” (Cabot)
  • Browns CBs Denzel Ward (groin) and Greedy Williams (shoulder) had to exit the game Monday. 
  • Browns OC Alex Van Pelt has met with Pitt about their vacant offensive coordinator job. (Cleveland Sports Talk)


Steelers OLB T.J. Watt isn’t playing with the sack record on his mind. With four sacks on Monday night against the Browns, Watt moved within a sack of former Giants DE Michael Strahan‘s record of 22.5. 

“I tell people all the time, the first year or two, I used to do big individual goals: ‘x’ amount of sacks, [tackles for loss], all that stuff,” Watt said, via Steelers Depot. “But it adds too much pressure. You start chasing and all that stuff. Now it’s just trying to affect every game the best that I can prepare and t’s been working for me. So I’m not really looking at goals like that any more. I’m just trying to be a game-wrecker.”

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