Even though he regressed last , Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was ranked in the top 10 deep ball passers of the 2019 season.
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield had a season to forget. After a spectacular rookie campaign in which he set the record for touchdown passes by a rookie, he regressed in his second year under then head coach Freddie Kitchens.
But not all was lost for Baker. Even in the midst of a down year, he was able to grade out as a top ten passer of the deep ball.
In his ranking of top ten deep ball passers, NFL.com’s Nick Shook ranks Mayfield as the number ten deep ball thrower last season.
"“Interestingly, Mayfield’s deep-ball passer rating was significantly worse than his rookie season (as was much of his game from Year 1 to Year 2), dropping from 106 to 72.9. . . . Having said all of that, Mayfield still found a way to squeeze passes into places they shouldn’t fit, attempting tight-window throws on 40.6 percent of deep attempts while enjoying the luxury of open receivers on just 14.1 percent of such attempts.” — Shook, NFL.com"
Baker’s deep ball passer rating fell significantly. This is not surprising given the issues associated with Freddie Kitchens calling the plays. The play calling itself was suspect often diverting from the game plan regularly.
Added to all of this was the lack of chemistry between Baker and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Baker also tried to force the ball to both Beckham and teammate Jarvis Landry. Often receivers and Baker were on different pages with different routes being ran than the quarterback was expecting.
Cleveland Browns fans have reason to be optimistic about Baker Mayfield
The NFL is often viewed as a “what have you done for me lately” league. Fans and analysts tend to forget what happened in previous years and only focus on the most recent season.
But if fans take the time to got back and watch the 2018 Baker Mayfied, they will find a lot of things to be excited about moving forward. During that season, there was a defined scheme. There was a lot of RPO’s and play action based passing.
That scheme fed directly into Mayfield’s strength as a passer. He is accurate and excels in finding receivers in open spaces. He is able to put the ball in tight spaces. He was able to execute effective play action passes. That scheme allowed him to excel as a quarterback.
Those skills continued in the 2019 season. He continued to try to put the ball in tight spaces. Surprisingly, he was successful enough, with all the chips stacked against him, to still be a top ten passer with the deep ball.
Browns fans have reason to be optimistic about the 2020 season. Achieving a top ten ranking in deep ball passing shows the skill set remains. What Baker needs is a competent coach to help him continue to progress as a quarterback.