Lost in the drama and chaos of the Cleveland Browns’ 47-42 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in a savage Monday night shootout in Cleveland was another milestone for Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield in his Quest continues to prove to the team that drafted him No.1 overall in 2018 that he is indeed the franchise quarterback the Browns drafted him to become.
It has not always been the case. Last year, for example, when Mayfield worked his way to a 78.8 quarterback rating, which was worse than any other NFL starter not named Andy Dalton. Mayfield also threw more interceptions (21) than any unnamed starter Jameis Winston, while completing only 59.4% of his passes, the worst of any unnamed starters Josh Allen.
This year, with the arrival of Coach of the Year nominee Kevin Stefanski, Mayfield has made significant progress in his development, just in time to impress his bosses, who after the season must decide whether they will pick the Mayfield’s fifth year option.
In Monday’s loss to the Ravens, Mayfield orchestrated two late-game touchdowns and threw for a record 343 yards, the third-highest total of his career. In his last six games, he has amassed 1,393 yards, eight touchdowns and one interception.
The only interception was a stunner, arriving late in the third quarter Monday night, at the Browns 13-yard line. This led to a touchdown on Baltimore’s next play, turning a 28-20 Ravens lead into a 34-20 lead.
Stefanski took the blame for the interception with his play call.
“I put Baker in a bad spot,” said Stefanski, who applauded the way his team reacted to the turnover.
“It’s easy to feel the momentum and energy being taken away from you (when something like this happens),” he said. “But I didn’t get that feeling of (Mayfield) and the guys. They knew what they had to do and showed great determination.
It’s the only interception Mayfield has thrown in his last six games. In his last seven games, he’s rated 106.9 and threw 13 touchdown passes and two interceptions.
“He’s playing at a high level,” said Stefanski. “He’s not lacking in confidence, but in a good way. Its level of comfort increases. He arrives early and stays late. We see the fruits of his labor.
After completing 31st in the NFL last year with a 78.8 quarterback rating, Mayfield is at 96.6 this year, which ranks 12e in the NFL and sixth in the AFC. Perhaps more importantly, he has the highest quarterback rating in AFC Central, ahead of Lamar Jackson (95.1), Ben Roethlisberger (94.9) and Joe Burrow (89.8).
At the start of this season, Mayfield’s performance was seen as one of the keys to the Browns’ season. Not only in terms of the team’s success, but also as a barometer of its long-term viability in Cleveland. It did not start well.
In their first game of the season, Stefanski’s first as an NFL head coach, the Browns got hammered in Baltimore, losing 38-6. Mayfield completed just 53% of his passes and had a dismal quarterback rating of 65. But in the next three games, all winners, against Cincinnati, Washington and Dallas, the Browns averaged nearly 40 points per. match and Mayfield recorded three consecutive trebles. – odds with numbers of 110.6, 117.3 and 100.
Then the roller coaster went the other way. In an 11-point win over Indianapolis and a 31-point loss to Pittsburgh, Mayfield threw four interceptions, was sacked five times and, in the Steelers game, posted a quarterback score of 54. , 9, the lowest of the season.
He followed that up with a spectacular performance against Cincinnati in which he completed all but six of his passing attempts, throwing five touchdown passes, the last of those coming with 11 seconds left to give Cleveland a 37-34 victory.
Next came three mediocre performances, one loss to the Raiders and wins over the Texans and Eagles. Mayfield was slightly better (score 116.7) in a 27-25 win over the nearly winless Jaguars.
Then came his back-to-back masterpieces in back-to-back matches against quality opponents Tennessee and Baltimore. In those two games, Mayfield threw for 667 yards, completing 66% of his passes, with six touchdowns and one interception. In the 41-35 win at Tennessee, in which Mayfield earned a season-high 147 quarterback rating, he became the first Browns quarterback since Otto Graham in 1951 to throw four touchdown passes in the first half, as the Browns led 38-7 after two quarters.
On Monday night, in the loss to the Ravens, Mayfield nearly led the Browns to a win from behind. With three games to go, his roller coaster season is once again on the rise. Barring any disasters in the last three games against the Giants, Jets and Steelers, it looks like Mayfield has recovered as the Browns quarterback of the present and the future.
“You want the trigger man to play freely and confidently, and I see it with Baker,” Stefanski said. “He understands he has to start over this week. These challenges continue to present themselves to you.