What is the true outlook for the Browns QB?
By: Reese Nasser
Baker Mayfield has been one of the most talked-about quarterbacks in football since breakout season in 2015 at the University of Oklahoma. Since being selected with the number one overall pick in 2018 by the Cleveland Browns, Mayfield has been under scrutiny. Many argued that Mayfield was not the right pick and that the Browns should have selected a different quarterback such as Josh Allen or Sam Darnold.
Now, with three seasons passing since Mayfield was selected by the Browns, the jury is still not out on whether or not he is the guy for the job. He is still one of the more scrutinized players in the NFL and with the recent success that Josh Allen has had with the Buffalo Bills, the selection of Mayfield is being looked at even more. So that begs the question of, is Baker underrated or overrated? Let’s take a look.
Mayfield has started 47 games for the Cleveland Browns. In those 47 games, he has a record of 24-23. His first two seasons, from a team perspective, were mediocre at best.
During his rookie season, he had a record of 6-7 in the games that he appeared in. He threw 27 touchdown passes, which was the record until being broken by Los Angeles Chargers rookie Justin Herbert this past season.
His sophomore season still didn’t jump from a winning standpoint. Cleveland finished with a record of 6-10 and Baker threw 21 interceptions. At this point, many people began to re-open the case against Mayfield and that he might not be the man for the job. At times it seemed as if the NFL game was too fast for him and he wasn’t capable of leading a team.
The 2020 season saw a different Baker Mayfield. Mayfield has always played with a swagger and as if he has something to prove at all times. At times, in 2019, it didn’t seem like Mayfield was doing this in 2019, but in 2020 he was back to his old ways. He threw for 26 touchdowns and only eight interceptions. He also added one more touchdown on the ground.
He led the Browns to an 11-5 record, their best regular season since 1994. The Browns also made an impact in the playoffs, something they hadn’t been capable of doing in years. A wildcard matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers showed just how big Mayfield could play when it mattered. The Browns beat the Steelers 48-37, which marked their first playoff win since 1994. In this game, Baker threw three touchdowns against a top defensive unit.
Their season came to an end against the Kansas City Chiefs. The 22-17 loss marked the ending to the Browns season that was their best since 1994.
This was all formulated by Baker Mayfield. He was the QB1 that led the team into battle. But what does this mean for Baker? Is he still underrated or overrated?
I believe that he is underrated, especially when considering how he finished the 2020 season. Would a different quarterback who had a similar season to Mayfield still be seen as overrated? Cleveland has been attempting to address the quarterback position for what feels like an eternity at this point. They have swung and missed on more quarterbacks than you count on two hands and yet they have finally found one. Baker Mayfield has done more than enough to show that he should be the quarterback of the future in Cleveland. He has accomplished too much for the organization in his three years to be seen as overrated. Leading Cleveland to the playoffs should be enough to remove the overrated tag and the stats back this up. 79 touchdowns in just 48 games. An eleven-win season with a team that finished 0-16 just a year prior to him arriving.
What he has done for their organization has not been spoken about enough. The Browns were considered a bottom-tier franchise by much of the NFL for a long time. And now they are one of the best teams in the league. They have some of the highest odds to win the super bowl and the expectations will be higher than they ever have been for this team. Regardless of how this upcoming season goes for the Browns, Baker will be the one that is scrutinized. Teams live and die by their QB and it will be no different in Cleveland. But even so, this underrated QB1 will have even more to prove in 2021.