We shouldn’t be evaluating Baker Mayfield on his 2021 season
If you actually think you’re getting an honest look at who Baker Mayfield is as a quarterback in 2021, then you’re simply pushing a narrative you want to believe. It doesn’t matter if it’s year four, it doesn’t matter if you’re “tired of the excuses”, sometimes this stuff just happens. Mayfield can play quarterback in the NFL, we’ve seen him do it. This isn’t a debate. This was answered his rookie year.
He can win games, we’ve seen him do that too. That’s not a debate. We know we can get to the playoffs with him and win games. None of that should be in doubt; he’s proven it.
What is a debate is whether he fits in Kevin Stefanski’s scheme as constructed. He’s a gunslinger who’s grown frustrated with the offense and let’s be honest, the offense was only good last year when the restraints on him came off later on in the year.
He’s played well, but he’s still hyper criticized, to an obnoxious degree. He takes a step to prove he can play and then the minute anything happens; his fault or otherwise, it’s “NOPE, TOLD YOU”. He clearly can play. It’s the Browns as a whole that is still a cluster of mismanagement and personnel issues. Players who are more about the player than the team and a coaching staff that can’t either control their players (hello penalties) or can’t figure out ways to adapt to use them better.
Stefanski has also made many, many bad calls and for some reason, he’s getting a pass by most of Mayfield’s biggest detractors. He’s not putting people in a position to succeed. How many times have we seen him rely on bad players for no reason? Putting in Demetric Felton when Kareem Hunt is healthy and waiting on the sideline is just one of a dozen-odd moves he does a game that make no sense. How many times does he rely on “analytics” instead of conventional wisdom? How many games did we lose because he left points on the board because statistics said “don’t kick the field goal”.
The team also has no receiver worth throwing to who can stretch the field but they have two good athletic tight ends. Do they get the ball more often? Nope. So why carry three tight ends? Why have a fullback on the roster when he sees the field about 12% of the game? Why rotate in four guys to do the job of two? There’s no consistency with this team.
Then you factor all of those boneheaded decisions with Mayfield’s injuries; namely his shoulder, and his foot, and yeah, the passing game sucks. This wasn’t unexpected though. We wrote article after article about how the Browns needed to get rid of Odell Beckham Jr. before he became a problem and bring in someone who can stretch the field across from Landry.
Mayfield has a fifth-year option that’s already been picked up and that’s a big nut to carry and an even bigger one to get rid of. He’s the quarterback for next year, so instead of fantasy booking his replacements, find three new receivers with speed, get rid of Donovan Peoples-Jones, re-work Landry’s contract because he’s no longer a number one, find a sixth lineman who can play tackle to avoid facing the blocking issues of this year again next year. Then you run this back.