The Cleveland Browns staved off the Minnesota Vikings for their third win of the season, and despite all the emphasis placed on scoring entering the contest, Baker Mayfield and the offense scored a season low 14 points.
Mayfield wasn’t his best and used colorful language to admit his performance was bad.
As far as road games go, though, His performance was a big departure from his track record. Entering the game, Mayfield had 24 road games under his belt. The former Heisman winner had thrown for 43 touchdowns against 25 interceptions with a QB rating of 90.5.
Impressive numbers, until you realize he was 9-15 as a starter (34 TDs, 20 INT, 17-8 W-L at home)! Now he’s got No. 10, and that’s the most important thing to a still victory-starved fan base, but make no mistake about it, Mayfield’s shaky day will be put under scrutiny all week.
He couldn’t hit water standing in Lake Minnetonka or one of Minnesota’s 9,999 other lakes. It was that bad at times, as Mayfield was 15-of-33 for 155 yards. No touchdowns, but also, no interceptions. His QB rating was 59.
This play in particular, will be dissected all week. It was 2nd and 10 with 4:01 in the game. The Browns had just crossed midfield. A score puts the game on ice. Odell Beckham Jr. got behind the defense. He was WIDE open down the right sideline. Mayfield threw–INCOMPLETE–to Beckham’s outside shoulder.
He was throwing the ball over his receivers heads. Attempts to Kareem Hunt in the end zone and a pass to Harrison Bryant (with space to run) come to mind. Balls were getting batted at the line of scrimmage. He was flagged for intentional grounding. He seemed too eager to run. Trent Green criticized him for not stepping up in the pocket.
Fortunately, beating the Vikings with a bad Mayfield speaks of how good the Browns are everywhere else. Nick Chubb was back to being his old self (21 carries, 100 yards), while Kareem Hunt looks impossible to take and had the game’s lone touchdown.
Mayfield’s play will likely dominate days normally reserved for celebrating and it has everything to do with whether or not Mayfield is a franchise quarterback, because the organization will likely have to cough up $40 million to keep him.
That’s what Josh Allen got paid annually after singing his extension, and you can bet Mayfield will want to be paid like his contemporary. Did you see Allen today? Two TDs. Buffalo smoked Houston, 40-0.
Winning trumps all, and that will give Mayfield the ammo in negotiations, but it’s these things, such as his play today, and failing on the final drive in Kanas City, that might determine his future.