Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield understands that he and Baltimore Ravens MVP-frontrunner Lamar Jackson will be linked for the foreseeable future.
Mayfield was taken No. 1 overall by the Browns in the 2018, while Jackson was taken with the last pick of the first round by the Ravens in the same draft.
While many could see Mayfield stepping in and becoming a franchise quarterback following his career at Oklahoma, the future was much murkier for Jackson — a QB who was known as much for his ability to run the ball as pass it.
Here’s how Jackson’s draft profile on NFL.com read:
“Evaluating Jackson against the NFL standards for the position will cause him to come up short. However, he has rare speed and athleticism and can single-handedly win games. Jackson’s accuracy is clearly spotty and teams must decide the level of accuracy they are willing to live with relative to his ability to create explosive plays. Jackson may need to operate in an offense ready to integrate RPOs (run/pass options) along with heavy play-action.”
Obviously, Jackson has silenced his critics with a record-setting, MVP-caliber season. He’s the heavy favorite to take home the award at -3000, according to Odds Shark.
Baker Mayfield: Lamar Jackson Deserves MVP Hype
Mayfield believes the attention his fellow Heisman winner has been garnering is appropriate.
“He is killing it, obviously. The MVP chants are well deserved. It is very obvious. It is a testament [to the season] he is having,” Mayfield told reporters on Thursday. “I think there are little things fundamentally you can do and just the raw talent that he has, all it takes is him working at his craft. He has had a lot of improvement in the passing game, but it still starts with their run game and up front. They are the most physical team. They believe when they step out on the field and they establish the run game and allow the play-action shots and stuff to open up. It starts with the run game, but obviously, he has worked very hard to get to where he is and he continues to improve, and that is why he is having a good season.”
Jackson has led the Ravens to an 12-2 record, passing for 2,889 yards and a league leading 33 touchdowns. He’s also added an NFL single-season record for a QB with 1,103 yards rushing with seven more touchdowns.
Mayfield has passed for 3,356 yards and has tossed 17 touchdowns to 17 interceptions during the Browns 6-8 campaign so far.
Browns Trying to Contain Jackson Without Myles Garrett
The Browns were the last team to beat Baltimore way back in Week 4, capturing a 40-25 road win in dominant fashion.
It was the most complete performance of the season by Cleveland, with Mayfield passing for 342 yards and a touchdown, Chubb rushing for 165 yards and three touchdowns and Pro Bowler Jarvis Landry exploding for a season-high 167 yards on eight catches.
But things have changed since that victory for the Browns, especially when it comes to the Browns defensive line, which was responsible for keeping Jackson relatively under wraps.
Star defensive end Myles Garrett is done for at least the rest of the season due to a suspension, and fellow Pro Bowl end Olivier Vernon has been dealing with a knee injury that’s forced him to miss five of the last six games. That makes the job of containing Jackson that much harder.
“It is a going to be a complete team effort, particularly up front,” defensive coordinator Steve Wilks told reporters Thursday. “Just trying to contain him, cage him, eliminate the A and B gaps where really much he likes to try and escape. We have to make sure that we try to flush him lateral when going east and west and then try to get population to the ball. That is going to be the key.”
The Ravens are a 10-point road favorite against the Browns.