Baker Mayfield tribute and reflection

The reflection of Baker Mayfield as a Cleveland Brown

By: Ivan Mulinder

Baker Mayfield won the Heisman Trophy in 2017 as the Quarterback of the Oklahoma Sooners, an award which is given to the most outstanding player in College Football. Going into the 2018 Draft he was the most successful quarterback ever in College Football in terms of his passing efficiency rating (which was 198.9) and he still ranks 6th today.

He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 1 pick in the 2018 Draft, a selection that came with extremely high expectations by most Browns fans who thought that at last, they had their QB who would lead them to glory. Baker Mayfield was certainly up to the challenge saying “I think if anybody’s going to turn that franchise around it would be me.” When asked why he’s the right man he said “Accuracy. I can make any throw.” Given his passing efficiency rating, he was right to be so confident.

Baker joined an extremely dysfunctional organization. Hue Jackson was the Head Coach and Todd Hayley was the Offensive coordinator. Over the last two seasons, the Browns had won 1 game, with only 4 wins in the last 3 seasons.

Since their return in 1999, they had only 2 winning seasons, the last in 2007, and the Browns had become the laughing stock of the NFL, a name synonymous with losing. Yet the Cleveland Browns had once been the greatest franchise and are proud owners of 8 Championships, with some of the best NFL players of all time having played for them such as Jim Brown and Otto Graham. Baker was the Browns 30th starting Quarterback since 1999 and he had a tough task ahead of him. The program Hard Knocks highlighted very clearly the incompetence and arrogance of Hue Jackson and the infighting between the Coaches. 

By Game 3 of the 2018 season, the Browns were in their usual run of form and were losing to the New York Jets 14-0 in Cleveland. Baker came on to thunderous applause and promptly led the Browns to a 21-17 victory, their first win in 19 games, completing 17 of 23 passes for 201 passing yards. Let’s remind ourselves of Baker Mayfield’s successes in Cleveland:

  •  He was the first Quarterback since 1961 to come off the bench in his debut, throw for more than 200+ yards and lead his team to their first win of the season. 
  • In week 5 2018 he won his first victory as a Browns starting Quarterback throwing for 347 yards and 1 touchdown in a 12-9 victory over the Baltimore Ravens. 
  • In Week 10 2018 he achieved a passer rating of 151.2 against the Atlanta Falcons. 
  • By the end of the 2018 season, Baker Mayfield set the rookie Quarterback record for passing touchdowns with 27.
  • The Browns 2018 record of 7-8-1 was their best since 2007. 
  • He won the Pro Football Writers Association All-Rookie Award. 
  • In 2019 his peers voted him the 50th best player in the League. 
  • At the end of the 2020 season, Baker led the Browns to their first playoff victory 48-37 in Pittsburgh, which was their first playoff appearance since 2002, their first playoff victory since 1994, and first playoff road win since 1969.  
  • By game 2 in 2021 PFF said “From week 10 onwards last year Mayfield was the No2 graded QB in the NFL.” He was in the top 5 Quarterbacks in all their categories.

Baker’s overall NFL stats were a TD-Int ratio of 92-56, 14,125 passing yards, 61.6% accuracy, and an 87.8 passer rating. These stats do not reflect the adversity he had to fight against throughout his time at the Cleveland Browns:

  • He had 4 Head Coaches: Hue Jackson, Gregg Williams, Freddie Kitchens, and Kevin Stefanski each with their own offensive schemes. Hue Jackson and Freddie Kitchens are two of the worst Head Coaches you’ll likely see ever in the history of the NFL.
  • He had 3 Offensive coordinators: Todd Hayley, Todd Monken, and Alex Van Pelt.
  • By week 15 of the 2021 season, the Browns only had 8 players who had been active for all games. He had no quality Offensive Line to protect him.
  • In-Game 2 2021 Baker Mayfield suffered a season-ending injury to his shoulder. He completely tore his labrum, which led to a shoulder fracture, and he suffered rib injuries, a foot injury and a leg injury during the rest of the season yet continued to give his all to lead the franchise. 
  • He didn’t have his WR1 and WR2 to throw to throughout most of the 2021 season. Landry was out from snap 2 Game 2 and OBJ didn’t want to be in Cleveland. 

Despite all this, the Browns won 8 games with 5 losses and 5 points or less. They beat the Super Bowl Bengals twice including a 41-16 blowout. On January 11th Andrew Berry said, “We fully expect Baker to be our starter and bounce back.” On March 15th he was meeting with Deshaun Watson and Baker’s time with the Cleveland Browns was effectively over. Baker Mayfield achieved a lot in Cleveland, despite all that was aligned against him. He led the franchise through a turbulent and transitional period and I believe that wherever he ends up he will lead that franchise to much success. 

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