2. The Baker Mayfield – Odell Beckham Jr. connection
Baker Mayfield is to blame for Beckham’s poor statistical output over six games in 2020. Beckham got open as well as he ever has, but Mayfield wasn’t comfortable in the offense, and didn’t look his way at the right times. And when he did target Beckham, 44% of the time his passes were uncatchable.
The bottom line is that the two must connect more often and with better quality. Beckham is the key to winning the Super Bowl, and if he isn’t healthy or being targeted effectively, Cleveland will fall short of its ultimate goal. The fact is that no one else on the offense can do what Beckham does, even when he isn’t being targeted. He simply commands attention that no one else does. Without him on the field, Cleveland’s passing game is just not vertically threatening, no matter how well Baker Mayfield plays.
Without Beckham, teams like the Kansas City Chiefs, with middling secondaries, can sell out to stop the Browns running game. The addition of Anthony Schwartz will help, but he cannot do the things that Beckham can.
Assuming Mayfield plays anywhere close to as well as he played to close the 2020 campaign, Beckham will be catching passes from by far the best quarterback he’s ever played with. We’ll need to see that connection improve in training camp before it manifests on the field.