Former Browns No. 1 pick and quarterback Tim Couch shakes hands with Baker Mayfield, this year's No. 1 overall pick on July 30, 2018.

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

Tim Couch’s advice for Baker Mayfield: "Be patient"

Browns No. 1 picks meet at training camp Monday

July 31, 2018
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Daryl Ruiter-Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Baker Mayfield and Tim Couch spoke briefly and then shook hands Monday morning.

It won’t be the last time the 2 meet either.

Couch, selected No. 1 overall by the then expansion Browns in 1999 knows exactly what Mayfield, this year’s No. 1 overall pick in the draft, is going through.

What advice does Couch have for Mayfield?

"I would just tell him to be patient,” Couch said. “I know he's had so much success coming off a Heisman Trophy year and all the things he did at Oklahoma, a record-setting career. I'm sure he expects to walk right in here in the NFL and then have that type of success and I did, too. I think every high draft pick thinks that. But this is a rebuilding football team.

“Are they better than they were a year ago? Absolutely. There's so much more talent on this team than there was a year ago. He's in a much better situation now. But still, you just have to be patient and don't expect too much too soon.”

In Cleveland, patience is easier said than done and if there’s anyone that knows that harsh truth more it’s Couch.

“It’s extremely hard [to be patient],” Couch said. “The plan for me was to play behind Ty Detmer and that lasted about half a football game the first game. They threw me in and certainly we weren’t ready as a team and I wasn’t ready, but I was in there starting.”

Couch is back in town this week preparing to serve as the team’s preseason television game analyst alongside former ESPN anchor Jay Crawford.

The former Kentucky star can relate to the pressure Mayfield is dealing with considering the Browns haven’t won a game since 2016. Couch was the face of the expansion franchise after a 3-year hiatus when he was picked.

“I think it’s pretty similar, actually,” Couch said. “This team didn’t win a game last year. Baker coming in as the No. 1 pick, people think this is the guy that’s going to turn around the franchise and finally solve the quarterback issue they’ve had here for a long time.  That’s a lot of pressure for a young guy to deal with.”

Couch respects Mayfield’s path to the NFL – from a 2-time walk-on at Texas Tech and Oklahoma to Heisman Trophy winner – and now to the top pick in the draft for the Browns.

“I love his story of what he's had to do in his career,” Couch said. “He's walked on twice. He's earned everything he's ever gotten. He's earned being the Heisman Trophy winner. He's earned being the No. 1 pick in the draft. No one gave him anything. No one really gave him a chance. So I think that mentality that he brings to this team I think is pretty special, and it's one of my favorite things that I like about him."

Unlike Couch was in 1999, it’s not expected that Mayfield will be forced into action right away with Tyrod Taylor already named the starting quarterbacks for the season.

“He's got a great situation to learn from Tyrod, and I think he needs to take advantage of that,” Couch said. “Tyrod's had success in this league and he knows how to play and win football games and those kind of things, so I think he really needs to take advantage of that situation and just prepare as hard as he can.

“What I tried to do was prepare like I was going to be the starter because I knew one day I would be the starter, and I didn't want to have to get ready. I wanted to be ready. So I think Baker will do that.”

With the Browns getting blown out by the Steelers 43-0 in their inaugural game back in 1999, veteran Ty Detmer was benched, and Couch started Week 2 at Tennessee.

“I think everybody just kind of panicked a little bit,” Couch said. “I was having a good preseason. You remember the first game against Dallas, the preseason game. I had a lot of success in that game, played well. I think I was kind of progressing a little faster than they were kind of expecting so I think they kind of felt I was ready. And I probably wasn’t ready.”

He was sacked 56 times that year and the Browns won 2 games – Week 8 at New Orleans on a last second Hail Mary and then at Pittsburgh on a last second field goal.

Couch was never the beneficiary of stability, a consistently strong supporting cast and to the lesser degree health in his career in Cleveland.

It’s been a reoccurring theme for just about every quarterback that has rolled through Cleveland – all 28 of them, earning the Browns the dubious distinction of being where QBs and their careers come to die.

“Having success as a quarterback is right time, right place,” Couch said. “You have to be in the right situation. There are so many talented guys that don’t have long careers because maybe they were in the wrong situation and then there’s guy that walk into the dream situation and have great coaching and it’s stable, they’re in the same offense for years and years and years.

“Look at Tom Brady. He’s been in the same offense, and Brett Favre, the same offense. Those guys that have that long-term success, they don’t have a different offensive coordinator every year. They don’t have a new head coach, they don’t have to start over and everything is just so in place for them to have success and it’s set up, so a young quarterback definitely can have success, but it has to be in the right situation.”

Couch returned to Cleveland in the spring for the first time since he was unceremoniously cut by Butch Davis and the team cleaned out his locker and took down his nameplate during minicamp.

Dubbed a bust for years by some fans and media, time has healed wounds for all.

“It's been humbling,” Couch said. “One thing I think that every athlete will tell you is all they want to do is just be appreciated, be appreciated from your teammates and fans. Just talking to these fans [Sunday], I think as time has went on, obviously the quarterback gets the blame when things aren't going well, but I think as time has went on, I think fans are realizing that it probably wasn't all my fault and I was probably a decent player, but I was just in a tough situation, and that's OK.

“There's a lot of guys that went into tough situations. I'm OK with that. I know what type of player I was and I think my teammates respected me. My coaches that I played for will say good things about me, the type of person I was and the type of player I was and that's very important for me."