In the event you’re the sort of one that already has a cemented perception construction on Baker Mayfield, the next 800 phrases are going to learn like a listing of excuses, ones that will likely be particularly arduous to learn after Mayfield threw 4 interceptions in a slender loss to the Packers that may have dramatically shifted Cleveland’s playoff outlook. As of now, in response to FiveThirtyEight, they’re a few 10% shot.
The issue is that people who find themselves evaluating Mayfield’s future past this second do not need a cemented perception construction on Mayfield, and can use extra than simply this damage riddled season to find out his final worth. As they need to. The opposite downside is that individuals who maintain tight their adverse view of Mayfield have a very distorted sense of history; the place the Browns are actually and the place they have been just some brief years in the past.
Within the 47 video games previous to Mayfield injuring his shoulder towards the Houston Texans—the second a considerably pronounced decline started—he accomplished almost 63% of his passes, an almost 2:1 landing to interception ratio and has thrown for nearly 12,000 yards. His yards per try common over that point could be prime 15. He’s nonetheless within the prime 10 by way of yards per try this yr. And, lots of these video games included both Hue Jackson or Freddie Kitchens as the first playcaller. That’s extra touchdowns and yards than Russell Wilson over the identical time-frame, with a barely decrease quarterback score.
On Saturday towards the Packers, the game-ending interception was on a timing route the place his receiver’s jersey was being tugged like an untrained pitbull. Any cheap particular person what Mayfield may accomplish over the long run goes to juxtapose the awkwardness and apparent discomfort we’ve seen over the previous few weeks with the relative fluidity and precision of video games like Kansas Metropolis in the beginning of the season. There’s a purpose one of many smartest entrance places of work within the NFL have constantly began a battered Mayfield over a succesful Case Keenum, who had the Vikings inside an earshot of the Tremendous Bowl a number of years in the past.
Main up up to now, Mayfield has managed to lug with him the collective baggage of one of many NFL’s most traditionally bungled franchises. His arrival was imagined to sign a flip towards pragmatism and sound determination making, however ended up being one other lean into difficult politicking, backward roster administration and an in-season coach firing. He performed effectively sufficient to maintain the Browns from being a complete laughingstock in 2019, regardless of a Madden 2004 offense and in his first season with a succesful teaching employees and unified entrance workplace, led the Browns to their first playoff win in many years.
The particular person we believed Mayfield to be popping out of school, one who wasn’t afraid to talk his thoughts or problem his detractors, connected him to outsized expectations. Mayfield was not solely going to repair the Browns, he was going to grant them an identification and hoist them into constant competence, even though no quarterback had managed to take action over the earlier twenty years; even though the Browns play in one of many two finest divisions in soccer and routinely face two of the best-coached defenses within the NFL.
That expedited his honeymoon interval in Cleveland and shortened the window of time for which we may recognize the truth that the Browns had a quarterback who lasted greater than a handful of video games—and prevented us from seeing that drained clip of the fan carrying the taped jersey with all of the franchise’s prior starters listed on it. Mayfield was not all the time good, not all the time environment friendly, not all the time ideally correct or completely suited to no matter offense he was taking part in in, however he was all the time, on the very least, ample. He may nonetheless put the Browns ready to win after three horrendous interceptions on Saturday towards the Packers. His biggest present to the town of Cleveland could also be the truth that, when trailing by multiple rating, you may entertain the thought of maintaining the tv on.
So it’s tough to rationalize the criticism. We’re criticizing Mayfield, the participant all of us hoped he’d be, based mostly off a sterling collegiate profession in a Lincoln Riley offense that produced three present beginning NFL quarterbacks. The participant whose identification as we perceive it’s a media creation based mostly off some moments of brashness and uncommon glimpses of non-milquetoast conduct. We’re not criticizing the Mayfield who has been fairly okay as a Browns quarterback; the one who has performed damage, dealt with with some maddening, Browns-ian palace intrigue storylines and received a playoff sport final yr.
That man goes to play some unhealthy video games however, minus the acquisition of Aaron Rodgers on the open market, is healthier than the opposite options. That’s one thing we appear to overlook.
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