Cleveland Browns: Baker Mayfield’s regression is real and must be addressed
The Cleveland Browns and Baker Mayfield have underachieved all season long. This offseason, the Browns must figure out what they can do to get Mayfield back on the path to becoming an elite quarterback. Before it’s too late.
Exactly one year ago, the Cleveland Browns franchise as well their fanbase rejoiced. After years of failure and disappointment, they had finally found their franchise quarterback. Baker Mayfield put Cleveland on his back, and everyone was more than happy to hitch a ride.
Mayfield was proclaimed King of the castle and was therefore given the keys. Once the season was over, Mayfield went on to do all the media rounds and bask in all the accolades being thrown his way, and rightly so. He had earned them last season.
Mayfield broke the record for touchdowns thrown by a rookie, and by consequence of his relevance had helped pull the Browns out of the abysmal quagmire they had been living in for close to two decades. The feelings of Baker’s emergence were not just isolated to the Browns fanbase, league-wide Mayfield was being viewed as one of the most, if not the most, talented young quarterback to enter the league in years.
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The NFL itself acknowledged that fact by placing Mayfield in their epic ‘NFL 100’ commercial that aired during the Super Bowl, where Tom Brady literally handed the Browns quarterback his Super Bowl rings. The 2018 season provided enough excitement and goodwill that it became a foregone conclusion that Mayfield would take the next step into that vaunted elite category of quarterbacks like Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers.
Then, after coaching hires, offseason trades, and free-agent acquisitions, the 2019 season had finally arrived. It was time for the hype to end and real legitimate success become a reality. It was all there for the taking, but Mayfield and the Browns couldn’t grasp it.
Games came and went, and for numerous reasons Mayfield wasn’t able to recapture whatever ‘it’ was that made him, well…him. The most glaring difference from his rookie year was he was missing his trademark, his calling card if you will, the thing that made what he did sustainable; his accuracy. As the season slipped by week after week, Mayfield was unable to get his game to reach the next level. Each touchdown he has thrown has been matched by an interception, literally.
What must be examined are the factors that have contributed to Mayfield’s regression. What role has coaching played during this ‘sophomore slump’? How much of Mayfield’s struggles are between his ears? Physically, what could he change to help himself? Is it even a regression, or has the league figured him out?
Obviously, there are more questions than answers at this point and with the season rapidly coming to a close, the Browns need to make Baker’s progression a priority in the off-season. Now, we look at some of the factors that the Browns should examine to get Mayfield back on track.