Mayfield is coming off a season where he passed for 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions, ranking next-to-last in both passer rating (78.8) and completion percentage (59.4%). That was on the heels of a rookie season where he looked al the part of the top pick, setting the rookie passing touchdown record with 27 touchdowns in his 13 starts.
But now the word “bust” has been floating around when analyst break down Mayfield’s game following his down year, including from FS1’s Speak for Yourself host Emmanuel Acho.
Acho, a former sixth-round draft pick of the Browns back in 2012, said he was infatuated with Mayfield at Oklahoma and during his rookie season. But now, Acho believes Mayfield is in trouble.
“If you are not worried Baker is going to a bust, you are lying to yourself,” Acho said. “He won the Heisman, No. 1 overall pick. Baker was destined for greatness. No way he could be a bust. Then he got to the NFL. In his first year, six wins. … I’m concerned and overly cautious that Baker is in trouble. If you don’t think Baker is in trouble, you’re lying.”
Baker Mayfield Not Put in Position to Succeed Last Season
While some of the problem certainly fell on Mayfield’s shoulders in terms of decision making, he wasn’t put in a position to succeed under former head coach Freddie Kitchens, who called the offensive plays and was let go at the end of the last season. Browns wide receiver Jarvis Landry said this offseason that the play-calling under Kitchens was questionable, at best, and the game plan was never apparent.
“I’ll say this, the first 20 plays of a game are scripted calls,” Landry said. “The first 20 plays of the game are calls that come from a team’s tendencies of how they approach the game in the first quarter or the first drive, so it can be predictable, what the defense is going to do. After that, it’s just kind of off of play-calling. Obviously, it comes down to execution, it comes down to making the throw, making the catches, making the blocks, but I just don’t know what the plan was [after the first 15 plays].”
New head coach Kevin Stefanski, who was hired for his offensive mind, is confident he can turn things around for Mayfield.
“For Baker, honestly, I feel like this for all of our players, I want the best version of those players,” Stefanski said during a spot on Sportscenter with Scott Van Pelt. “I don’t want them to be something they’re not. I think, Baker, you said it, is a lightning rod. A quarterback is a lightning rod. That’s the nature of the beast. He knows that. We’ve outlined some things that we’re going to help him with schematically and maybe technique wise. But it’s never a one-man show. Baker knows that. Our team knows that. These guys are putting in the work right now to make sure we are hitting the ground running when we get together.”
Baker Mayfield Putting in Offseason Work
Mayfield has done his part this offseason to be prepared when the season rolls around. He invited teammates down to Texas to work with him and has been hitting the gym, looking thinner and more explosive as the season approaches.
Mayfield has made no qualms that this year is important for his future in Cleveland, with the Browns facing the decision to pick up his fifth-year option this offseason.
“There’s no doubt Year 3 is always a big year in these contracts,” Mayfield told reporters earlier this offseason. “Timing-wise, everybody knows that. I’m not going to put any added pressure on myself. There’s no need for that, because if I win, good things will happen.”