Although he was not named the Offensive Rookie of the Year, Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was stellar in 2018. But in 2019, he’ll face a bigger test than anything his rookie season had to offer.
The Cleveland Browns skyrocketed back into relevancy in 2018. Despite just barely finishing under the .500 mark, the Browns were lifted out of the NFL’s basement on the shoulders of one Baker Mayfield. Even with a very tough schedule this past season, the Browns were a totally different team through the second half of the year. They only lost two games from week nine onwards, and hope springs eternal in northeast Ohio.
Mayfield broke the rookie passing touchdown record, went for over 3,700 yards on the year, and was the runner-up for Offensive Rookie of the Year. And yet, he still has to ace his final exam. The test will start on September 9, 2019 when the Browns open their season in week one. This will be the true measurement of Baker Mayfield.
The Browns won’t have it quite as bad with their schedule next season, and that leaves the door wide open for a Cleveland playoff appearance. If Mayfield can take the Browns to the postseason for the first time since 2002, and end the longest playoff drought in the NFL, he gets an automatic pass. But outside of a playoff berth in Mayfield’s second season, how can he and the Browns live up to their newfound expectations?
This upcoming Browns season will be all about expectations. You can feel it around Cleveland. The city is buzzing with Browns Fever once again, and BakerMania is running wild, but there’s a nervous apprehension on the shores of Lake Erie. This is the year that the Browns have to make it right. They just have to. For the first time in a decade, there are legitimate expectations for Cleveland football.
Needless to say, the pressure is on. Baker Mayfield and the 2019 Cleveland Browns are going to be one of the most closely-examined teams in the NFL next year, and they’ll have no choice but to handle the pressure and roll with the punches. Mayfield has been given a test that 28 of the 29 former Browns quarterbacks have failed: take the Cleveland Browns to the promised land.