After suffering through a sophomore slump in 2019, many fans and pundits alike have begun to suggest that Baker Mayfield is not the franchise quarterback everyone thought he was at the end of his rookie season.
It’s time for everyone to slow your roll with the apocalyptic opinions of Baker Mayfield and his ability to be the franchise quarterback that has eluded the Cleveland Browns for the better part of 20 years. Sure, his second season fell way short of expectations, but are you really that naive to believe that he suddenly became a lousy signal-caller? Au contraire!
So many circumstances converged in 2019 that it would almost be surprising if Mayfield had overcome them all to play at the same level he had in 2018. From the rudderless ship being helmed by Freddie Kitchens to often playing from behind thanks to a bend-then-break defense to being protected by Greg “157 pounds” Robinson and Chris “38 QB pressures” Hubbard, we shouldn’t be shocked by Baker’s struggles.
Between the swagger and style of play, the NFL quarterback we most often think about when watching Baker Mayfield is Brett Favre. Neither lacks for confidence, both can best be described as gunslingers, and each saw a significant dropoff in their performance during their sophomore campaign behind center.
In his first season with Green Bay, his second after a rookie year with Atlanta in which he had a whopping four throws, Favre started 13 games with 18 touchdown passes, 13 interceptions, and a 64.1 completion percentage. During his second year with the Packers, Favre took a step back overall, tossing 19 touchdowns to go along with 24 interceptions and a 60.9 completion rate.
By contrast, Baker Mayfield threw 27 touchdown passes in 2018 while having 14 attempts picked off with a 63.8 completion percentage. His stats obviously dipped in 2019 as he dropped to 22 touchdown tosses with his interceptions jumping to 21 while completing just 59.4 percent of his attempts.
The jury is obviously still out on what a Kevin Stefanski/Alex Van Pelt offense will look like in Cleveland in 2020, but it’s hard to ignore Kirk Cousins’ stats from last season with Stefanski as his offensive coordinator. Cousins, with Dalvin Cook in the backfield and Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen out wide, threw for 26 touchdowns with only 6 interceptions while putting up a 69.1 completion percentage. Show us someone who wouldn’t kill for Baker Mayfield to have similar success and we’ll show you a clueless soul.
Color us overly optimistic, but we can’t help but believe, quite strongly, that the combination of a coherent offensive approach and a quarterback in Baker Mayfield who is driven by proving naysayers wrong will result in a season that will prove our first impression in 2018 was the accurate one. Baker Mayfield IS, in fact, the answer at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns in 2020 and well beyond.