Sean McVay spotted reigning Heisman Trophy winner Baker Mayfield walking down the aisle of his Southwest flight from Los Angeles to Indianapolis on Tuesday and called him over.
Mayfield took the middle seat, just to sit next to the Los Angeles Rams‘ second-year head coach, and got a little bit of advice before interviewing with and working out for an assortment of NFL teams at this year’s scouting combine.
“We just talked a little bit,” McVay recalled in a phone conversation on Wednesday morning. “I wanted to be careful. I know he’s going to be talking all week, and this is kind of an exhausting process both physically and mentally. But just kind of let him know, ‘Just be yourself, enjoy it, be honest and up front,’ like he would regardless of whether I said that.”
Mayfield, initially a walk-on at Texas Tech, dominated the college football landscape while quarterbacking the Oklahoma Sooners over these last three seasons, completing 69.8 percent of his passes, averaging 10.6 yards per attempt and throwing 119 touchdowns to 21 interceptions. Entering the draft, there are concerns about Mayfield’s height — he’s listed at 6-foot-1, but may be an inch or two shorter — and also questions about his character.
But he has the talent to be selected in the top half of the first round, despite being part of a quarterback-heavy draft.
“You can see he understands football; he’s put good stuff on tape for the last handful of years,” McVay said. “His resume speaks for itself.”
McVay and Mayfield met during Super Bowl week in Minneapolis earlier this month. Southwest allows passengers to select their own seats, and McVay got the window with an earlier boarding group. He called Mayfield over because he preferred to sit with someone he knew, but he was conscious of giving him his space during the four-hour flight.
McVay called Mayfield “an impressive guy, very likeable. You see why his teammates thought the way they do about him.”
As for why the 2017 Coach of the Year was flying Southwest, instead of an airline that offers first class?
“It was the only direct flight from LAX to Indianapolis,” McVay said. “There was a Delta option, but you had to connect, so it was the only direct one. And, shoot, I like Southwest.”
Browns banking on dominant Jadeveon Clowney, Myles Garrett pairing – Cleveland Browns Blog
BEREA, Ohio – Next season, the Cleveland Browns‘ defense will feature two former No. 1 overall picks off the edge. And they’re banking the All-Pro they drafted four years ago will help unlock the vast potential of the one they just signed.
Wednesday, Cleveland further bolstered its budding defense in free agency, inking Jadeveon Clowney to a one-year deal worth up to $10 million.
Unlike Myles Garrett, Clowney has yet to live up to the billing of being the No. 1 pick. But now healthy again, he sees playing in Cleveland alongside Garrett as an opportunity to finally do so in his eighth season in the league.
“I just want to show that I’m still an elite player,” Clowney said Wednesday. “And prove to other people that I’m still out here and can dominate.”
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Clowney is coming off a season with Tennessee during which he did anything but dominate. He played eight games with the Titans without notching a single sack, before missing the rest of the season with a torn meniscus in his left knee.
Since becoming the first pick in the 2014 draft, injuries have continually hampered Clowney, beginning with his first career game, which ultimately led to a microfracture in his right knee. Clowney passed a physical in Cleveland on Wednesday on both knees, clearing the way for the Browns to finally sign him.
“I don’t think everybody (has gotten) to see the person they drafted yet,” said Clowney, who has still made three Pro Bowls. “I think I’m working back towards that – I’m well on my way now.
“With my potential and the way I play the game – if I can stay healthy – I shouldn’t be far away from being Defensive Player of the Year. I think I have that potential, and I can do it.”
The Browns already boast a player who was in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation just last season in Garrett. Before contracting COVID-19 in late November, Garrett was leading the NFL with 9.5 sacks and four forced fumbles. Despite missing two games with the virus and laboring with his breathing after returning, Garrett still was named a first-team All-Pro.
Clowney, himself, has commanded plenty of attention from opposing offenses in the past, even with his injury history and inconsistent production. In fact, since 2018, according to ESPN Stats & Info, only Michael Bennett and Za’Darius Smith have been doubled-team more often.
“It’s definitely frustrating,” said Clowney, who, despite the constant double teams, still owns one of the five-best pass-rush win rates since 2018. “You game plan all week to go against one person, watch him all week to get pass-rush reps — and then you go into the game, and all of a sudden, it’s two people in front of you or somebody there to chip you the whole game.”
In Cleveland, however, Clowney could see the fewest double teams of his career, lining up opposite Garrett, who faced the third-highest rate of double teams last season.
“I’m looking forward to playing with somebody who is dominant on the opposite side like a Myles Garrett, who can draw a double team,” Clowney said. “Maybe I can go one-on-one more.”
Without a doubt, Clowney will see more one-on-one opportunities. And having already landed edge rusher Takkarist McKinley in free agency this offseason, Cleveland could deploy Clowney in the pass rush in a variety of creative ways.
“We love his relentless style of play,” general manager Andrew Berry said in a statement. “He’s one of the more disruptive players in the game and we think he’s going to add an element of ruggedness along our defensive line.
“The other thing we love about Jadeveon is his versatility, his ability to play all across the front and impact the game regardless of his alignment.”
Berry has been busy this offseason upgrading every level of a defense that ranked just 19th in efficiency in 2020 but for a team that still won 12 games and advanced to the second round of the playoffs. Last month, the Browns landed arguably the top safety available in free agency in John Johnson III from the Rams. Berry also added three other potential defensive starters in linebacker Anthony Walker, nickelback Troy Hill and defensive tackle Malik Jackson.
Clowney, however, has enough talent to elevate the Browns’ defense to yet another level. Especially if he, in his own words, proves that he can be a dominant player once again.
“That is all I am here to prove this year,” he said. “We’re going to see this season.”
Seattle Seahawks extend team president Chuck Arnold through 2027
SEATTLE — The Seahawks have extended team president Chuck Arnold through 2027, they announced Wednesday.
Arnold is entering his 28th season with the Seahawks and his fourth in his current role. As president of the Seahawks and First & Goal Inc., which operates Lumen Field, he oversees the organization’s business and financial operations, sales, marketing and administration.
“Chuck continues to do an exceptional job working with and supporting the football operation while assuring that the entire Seahawks organization remains an engaged and invested community leader unafraid to tackle tough challenges in our region,” Jody Allen, chair of the Seahawks, said in the team’s release. “Stability, quality, and consistency of leadership is a key ingredient to our continued success and winning culture. I remain excited for the future of this organization both on and off the field.”
Arnold’s extension means more stability at the top of the organization. In January, the Seahawks gave general manager John Schneider an extension through the 2027 draft. Coach Pete Carroll was previously extended through the 2025 season.
A native of Tacoma, Washington, and a graduate of Washington State University, Arnold began his career with the Seahawks as an intern in 1994. He was their COO from 2013 to 2018 before replacing Peter McLoughlin as team president.
Women amend lawsuits vs. Houston Texans’ Deshaun Watson to disclose names; 1 plaintiff withdraws suit ‘for now’
HOUSTON — Twenty women who had filed lawsuits alleging inappropriate behavior and sexual assault against Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson have amended their petitions to disclose their names.
Another lawsuit is expected to be refiled by Thursday after an emergency hearing was canceled on Wednesday.
One of the original 22 lawsuits was dropped by a plaintiff “for now,” according to court documents.
“In light of privacy and security concerns, Plaintiff has decided not to pursue her case, for now,” the document said. “Plaintiff reserves the right to refile this case once such concerns are addressed.”
On Friday, two judges ruled that most of the plaintiffs suing Watson must identify themselves. The rulings from two hearings Friday covered 13 of the 22 lawsuits filed against Watson, while the attorneys also agreed to release a 14th name later in the day. Before Friday, only two women had been publicly identified. Another emergency hearing to determine whether the remaining lawsuits should be amended had been scheduled for Wednesday but was called off shortly before it was scheduled to begin.
The plaintiffs’ attorney, Tony Buzbee, said in a statement Tuesday that his law firm “previously attempted to make available to Defense Counsel the names of the plaintiffs suing Deshaun Watson, and intended to do so in due course.”
“We were concerned about the safety of these plaintiffs, and asked the Watson team to agree to a protective order where the identities could be used in litigation, but not broadcast to the world,” Buzbee’s statement continued.
In a statement last week, Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said that when his law firm asked Buzbee “to identify his clients weeks ago, he refused and told us to file a motion.”
“While I understand that anonymity often is used as a shield for victims, Mr. Buzbee is using it as a sword,” Hardin said in a statement on Thursday. “While shielding his clients from public scrutiny, Mr. Buzbee continues to use their anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson. This is simply not right. And we look forward to resolving these matters in court.”
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