After the Cleveland Browns failed to seal the deal against the now 5-1 Seattle Seahawks, quarterback Baker Mayfield should not shoulder the blame.
Yes, the Cleveland Browns have lost their second game in a row, this time at the hands of the Seattle Seahawks. Not to make excuses for the under-performing Browns, Baker Mayfield led them from facing the undefeated San Francisco 49ers to the now 5-1 Seahawks on a short week.
After watching and re-watching the game, one thing is becoming clear: This was quarterback Baker Mayfield’s best game of the season and any blame for the loss cannot fall onto his shoulders. Despite what the black and white numbers of the box score may indicate, the film showed a strong outing from Mayfield, and numerous letdowns from his playmakers.
Mayfield finished the game with 249 yards passing and one touchdown, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes, but also ending the day with three interceptions. Numbers do, in fact, lie as Mayfield had only one or two throws that he would want back in yesterday’s game.
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The only interception that could be placed on the shoulders of Mayfield was a ball in the redzone that he forced to Jarvis Landry. Outside of this throw, however, Mayfield played a pretty clean game overall as the other two picks can be placed on the shoulders of his intended targets.
As the Browns were surging and ready to stick the knife in deeper to the Seahawks, Mayfield threw an interception on a quick hitter over the middle, intended for Odell Beckham Jr. This is a play we have seen the Browns run a million times, and it was evident that Mayfield was expecting OBJ to cross the face of the defender; Beckham Jr. did not, and the Seahawks came up with an easy pick.
The last interception of the game, as the Browns were hoping to drive and take back the lead in the last three minutes, Mayfield fired a strike to running back Dontrell Hilliard. The receiving running back got both hands on the football, but could not secure it as it squirted out of his grasps and into the arms of the defender.
In fact, this has been a running theme for the Browns and for Mayfield this season, as he has thrown five interceptions that have been characterized as “unlucky” by Andre Weingarten, a ratings adjuster for EA Sports’ Madden and Player Research and Analytics. Mayfield leads the league in “Worst QB Turnover luck,” or the amount of interceptions versus turnover worthy plays.
According to Weingarten, Baker Mayfield has had five interceptions tacked onto his statsheet that “he might have had some fault on…but definitely would not have been intercepted under normal circumstances” (Weingarten via Twitter). Six interceptions in six games does not sound quite as bad as eleven in that same span.
Looking back over the game, this was absolutely Mayfield’s best performance of the season at hanging in the pocket, sliding through traffic and delivering a strike. After Monday night’s meltdown, this was a refreshing element of Baker’s game to see improve; as the season continues, this is a block that Mayfield can build on moving forward.
There is plenty of blame to go around for yesterday’s loss to Seattle, from clock and game management, to Baker Mayfield’s supporting cast, to officiating, to the defensive side of the ball. However, even taking the Baltimore game into consideration, yesterday’s game was Mayfield’s best all around performance of the season for the brown and orange.