Baker Mayfield enters 2021 on the cusp of breaking out as a top NFL QB.
The Browns got two great seasons out of Baker Mayfield in his first three seasons as an NFL quarterback. Due to Mayfield’s play, last season, in particular, he landed on PFF’s All-Underrated Team, alongside Browns’ guard Wyatt Teller and Browns’ safety John Johnson III. The three men are expected to have massive seasons for the Browns, barring injury. It will also be a season that will define Mayfield.
Season four will be the year that makes or breaks Mayfield as an elite-level quarterback. Unless Mayfield completely pooches things, he’ll be a Browns’ player for as long as the team can afford to keep him around. That really isn’t up for debate. Yet, this will be the year that establishes him as an elite player in the NFL or the next Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff; another big arm that does decent numbers but never does anything more.
Baker Mayfield has every tool to succeed this year with the Browns
The reason many are hesitant to accept that the Mayfield from 2020 is the real Mayfield stems from his play in 2019. While it’s true he’s had two great seasons, 2019 was a blemish on his career. While many are quick to blame then-head coach Freddie Kitchens, the receivers, or even Mayfield himself, the biggest culprit in the opinion of many was the offensive line.
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The line couldn’t keep Mayfield upright and it forced Mayfield to throw on the run far too often. Knowing he wouldn’t get many clean pockets, you can see Mayfield attempting to force things that weren’t there. That in turn led to an increase in interceptions.
That’s shouldn’t be an issue in 2021. The offensive line was among the best, if not the best in the league last season, and all five players are returning. While Joel Bitonio and J.C. Tretter are getting up there in age for offensive linemen, the team is at least eight deep on the line; arguably the deepest it’s ever been.
With guys like Blake Hance, Michael Dunn and Chirs Hubbard providing a backup for anyone player should a starter go down, Mayfield is truly out of excuses. If he can’t get the job done in 2021, there won’t be any more excuses for him.
So it’s either step up to the level of the elite in 2021 or accept that he will always be an average starting quarterback in the NFL.