Coming into the 2020 season many questioned if Baker Mayfield was the answer to the Cleveland Browns decades-long quarterback drought. It was unanswered if he could be the team’s franchise quarterback, however, he proved himself last season.
Mayfield had a great second half of the season in which he compiled 2,049 passing yards on a 63.9 percent completion rate. He totaled 11 touchdowns and impressively only threw one interception.
The Browns’ record over the second half of the season was 6-2. One of these losses coming against the New York Jets in which the receiving core and offensive line were struck with COVID and a handful of backups were forced to play.
Mayfield carried on this momentum into the Wild Card round of the playoffs against the Pittsburgh Steelers as well.
In that game, he picked the Steelers secondary apart for 263 yards and completed 61.76 percent of his passes. Along with this, he threw for three touchdowns against arguably the best defense in the league last season.
In the second round of the playoffs, Mayfield held his own against the reigning Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs.
He threw for 204 yards and completed 62.16 percent of his passes. He also threw for one touchdown and one interception against a very talented Chiefs secondary.
If Mayfield is able to continue this amazing run through the 2021 season, he will finally take the next step into elite quarterback territory.
There will be some obstacles standing in Mayfield’s way to make this leap.
The first major obstacle is the Browns schedule heading into next season. Recently, it was announced that there would be a 17th game added to the schedule. This will be another week that Baker will be held to a very high standard to make it into elite territory.
Along with this, the Browns have an incredibly tough slate of teams in front of them compared to last season.
Their home games will be against the Denver Broncos, Las Vegas Raiders, Detroit Lions, Chicago Bears, Houston Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Arizona Cardinals.
The away games for the Browns feature the Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, Green Bay Packers, Minnesota Vikings, New England Patriots, Ravens, Steelers, and Bengals.
Some games against elite teams and defenses that stick out right away are the Chicago Bears, Denver Broncos, New England Patriots, Arizona Cardinals, Green Bay Packers, Pittsburgh Steelers, and Baltimore Ravens. All of which rank in the top half of the league in passing yards allowed.
Despite this, there are some factors that will take some of the weight of playing elite off of Mayfield’s shoulders.
The first being his supporting cast. If Mayfield is having an off-game, the Browns rushing attack will be able to take over and carry the load of the offense. Along with this, the team will still have one of the best offensive lines in the league.
Lastly, Mayfield will not have to learn a brand new offense over the offseason for one of the first times in his career. With Kevin Stefanski being the head coach in Cleveland for the long haul, Mayfield will have the consistency of the same scheme for years to come.
With it getting closer and closer to the front office needs to make a decision on how long to extend Mayfield and for how much, this would be the year for both parties involved for him to establish himself as one of the few elite quarterbacks in the league.