Cleveland Browns: Stats say that Baker Mayfield improved all three years

Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Browns
Cleveland Browns. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images) /

It’s not just Mayfield

The learning curve is not unique to Baker Mayfield. Almost every quarterback who has a new team, new coach, and new offensive system to learn is going to have a bit of a rough start at first.

Even Tom Brady had the same phenomenon. If you check his early season performances, they were not nearly as good statistically as later in the year, as he and Bruce Arians got more on the same page as the season went on. Fancy that. Practice does matter and it does make the quarterbacks better over the course of weeks, months, and years.

For purposes of fantasy football or handicapping football teams and games, the general trends are these:

First, quarterbacks with new teams, new head coaches, and new offensive coordinators will usually improve as the season goes on, especially young quarterbacks. For example, Matthew Stafford will play for the Rams this season, with head coach Sean McVey, and OC Kevin O’Connell, and has never worked with either of them before. He probably will trend higher at the end of the season than at the beginning of the season, just as Mayfield has the past three seasons.

Ditto for Trevor Lawrence, Justin Fields, and Zach Wilson among others who are probably going to start their rookie years and have varying degrees of success. But they will get better as the season goes on, not worse.

Second, teams with old guy quarterbacks, especially those with recent injury history, may look pretty good at the beginning of the year, but they tend to fade at the end of the season unless they are named Tom Brady. Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees come to mind as stars who were still good enough to start for playoff teams, but not at the same level as they were earlier in 2020. Ryan Fitzpatrick might have still had it, but he was shot out of the saddle by his own team.  Well, those unfair, unexpected things tend to happen to older quarterbacks in the NFL.

Scoring is going to be down league-wide, at least early on, as more than half the NFL is breaking in new quarterbacks this season. But scoring will pick up as the season progresses because the quarterbacks will make the adjustments and start to figure it out.