Mayfield trails only Drew Brees in red zone performance heading into Denver game

Logan, former Browns star with Kardiac Kids, on Baker Mayfield: "I love that dude;" says Browns hit it with No. 1 pick

By Ed Meyer

Former Browns wide receiver Dave Logan, one of the original Kardiac Kids from the 1980s, sounds like he would like to come out of retirement to play a few snaps with Baker Mayfield in tonight’s Browns-Broncos game.

“I love that dude,” Logan said Friday afternoon during an interview on WKNR (850 AM), the Browns’ radio flagship.

It was not a gratuitous compliment.

Logan, who has been the radio voice of the Denver Broncos for 20 years, also has a distinguished record as a Colorado high school football coach, taking his teams to the playoffs 22 times in 24 years and winning seven state titles.

After a week studying up on Mayfield’s rookie accomplishments in preparation for tonight’s game in Denver, Logan said he would go to battle with the 23-year-old quarterback anytime, anywhere, and that the Browns hit it, dead on, when they made him the No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft.

“That’s the key piece in today’s game,” Logan said. “You can’t win unless you have that guy. You’ve got to have a quarterback that you can build around, and that you feel good about, and that can win close games, and can manufacture wins sometimes in a variety of ways and, to me – I know it’s only his rookie season – but the Browns have that guy in Baker Mayfield.”

On the other side, Denver’s starter, Case Keenum, 30, of the University of Houston, is not exactly, shall we say, the reincarnation of John Elway.

“I don’t think they view Case – and again, I can’t speak for the organization, this would be conjecture on my part – but I don’t think they view Case the way that I think the Browns view Baker Mayfield,” Logan said.

Mayfield has soared to the top of this year’s draft class of quarterbacks, and he also has transformed the offense into one of the most effective scoring units in the entire NFL in the red zone (inside the opponent’s 20-yard line).

According to statistics compiled by ESPN’s NFL Matchup, Mayfield has completed 26-of-41 passes in the red zone (63.4 percent) for 15 touchdowns, no interceptions and a quarterback rating of 115.1 – second in the league behind MVP candidate Drew Brees of the Saints (116.9 rating).

Keenum, by comparison, has the worst QB rating in the red zone (66.6).

If the Browns get hot early in tonight’s game and create some distance on the scoreboard, “I can see the Broncos struggling in terms of playing from behind. They’re just not built to do that,” Logan said.

Sportsbooks in Las Vegas lists Denver, nevertheless, as a 2.5-point favorite, and sets the over-under points as 45.5 in the latest Browns-Broncos odds.

The game will be televised on NFL Network beginning at 8:20 p.m., from Broncos Stadium at Mile High, in Denver. Mike Tirico will do play-by-play and former Super Bowl MVP Kurt Warner will do analysis.

The Browns (5-7-1) have won three of their last four games. The Broncos (6-7) won three in a row before last Sunday’s 20-14 loss to the 49ers in San Francisco.

Elite company

Logan, who wore No. 85 at wide receiver with the Browns, and also was used by former coach Sam Rutigliano as an extra defensive back in pass coverage, is one of only three men to be drafted by the NFL, the NBA and Major League Baseball.

The others were Dave Winfield and Mickey McCarty.

Logan, 64, was an all-state football player at Wheat Ridge High School in Denver. He was drafted out of high school by the Cincinnati Reds in the 19th round as a pitcher/infielder.

In 1975, the Browns drafted him in the third round out of the University of Colorado, where he lettered in football and basketball. The Kansas City Kings also took him in the 9th round of the NBA draft.

By the numbers

11 consecutive losses for the Browns against Denver. They last beat the Broncos, 30-29, in 1990.

Denzel Ward Out

Browns rookiecornerback Denzel Ward, the No. 4 pick in this year’s draft, is out for tonight’s game from the aftereffects of a concussion in the first half of the team’s loss in Houston two weeks ago. It is the second consecutive game that he’s missed.

Meanwhile, it was announced Friday that Ward, 21, has received the most Pro Bowl votes from fans for a starting spot at cornerback on the AFC squad. He has 36 tackles, 12 assists, three interceptions and a blocked field goal

The official rosters will be announced Tuesday on NFL Network. Fan voting counts as one-third of the Pro Bowl components. Voting by the league’s coaches and players makes up the other two-thirds.

Extra Points

The Browns must win out to make the playoffs.

They undoubtedly would be in a much better position if not for their failures early in the season when Hue Jackson was the head coach. They tied the Steelers in the season opener because a field-goal attempt was blocked.

They lost to the Saints, 21-18, when placekicker Zane Gonzalez (no longer with the Browns) missed four kicks.

They lost to the Raiders in overtime, in part, because what appeared to be a first- down run late in regulation was reversed, and they lost to Tampa Bay on a 59-yard field goal in overtime.

"You can't waste your time thinking about those things," interim head coach Gregg Williams said. "You can't change that. The only thing you have an impact on is what's up next."

Strategy, personnel

Browns defensive end Myles Garrett has 12.5 sacks, one behind AFC leader Von Miller of the Broncos. Garrett's goal is to lead the league in sacks and to win Defensive Player of the Year award, but team goals are more important to him. The surge the Browns are experiencing is a sharp contrast to what Garrett experienced as a rookie when the Browns were 0-16.

"Everybody loves winning," Garrett said. "It's a little different for us because things have been a little negative the last couple of years, but that's in the past and we're on a different path now. We're just trying to carve a name for ourselves."

Garrett's 19.5 career sacks are the most by a Browns player in his first two seasons.

Browns starting center JC Tretter has been playing on a sprained ankle since mid-October. The injury was aggravated in the 26-20 victory over the Panthers last Sunday, but he continued to play. The stress will be on him to continue playing at a high level with the Browns playing tonight instead of Sunday, giving Tretter one less day to rest.

Tonight’s game features a matchup of Offensive Rookie of the Year candidates: quarterback Baker Mayfield of the Browns and running back Phillip Lindsay of the Broncos. Protecting Mayfield with an extra blocker to fend off Von Miller and Bradley Chubb will be important. Clamping down on Lindsay, who with 967 yards rushing is likely to go over 1,000 yards before a national television audience. Browns linebacker Joe Schobert will help slow Lindsay's march.

Browns DE Myles Garrett vs. Broncos LT Garett Bolles. Garrett is going to be pumped to outplay Broncos pass-rushing linebacker Von Miller. Miller leads the AFC with 13.5 sacks. Garrett is one sack behind. He is in excellent shape this deep into the season, so the thin Denver air should not take a big toll on him.