Baker Mayfield has proved to be a lot of things during his football career, some good, some bad, depending on who you ask. But one talent evaluator knows one thing the Cleveland Browns quarterback is not — a leader.
“Look at last year how many opportunities he had to make a play on third down and did not do it,” the evaluator told writer Mike Sando. “You can’t blame it all on coaching. And he’s not a leader. He doesn’t say the right things. To me, a lot of that position is, can you lead? And he hasn’t proven so far that he can lead. Look how many times he was in the news for saying something stupid. He had to apologize to his own team. It’s one thing if you’re winning. He’s not. Go to the podium with a little humility.”
Mayfield has certainly had his moments in college and during his Browns tenure. Last season he had a few polarizing incidents, like speaking on the trade demand dispute between running back Duke Johnson Jr. and the team, to comments on injuries to Odell Beckham Jr. during a press conference that seemingly threw the Browns medical staff under the bus.
Baker Mayfield Needs to Cut Down Turnovers
On the field, Mayfield suffered not only because of the bad play-calling under Freddie Kitchens, but also some bad decision making. 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%). It didn’t help that he was playing behind a leaky offensive line, but 21 interceptions is much too high regardless.
Now with Kevin Stefanski coming in as the Browns head coach after a successful stint in Minnesota calling plays, there’s a belief Mayfield has a chance for more success.
“I think Kevin Stefanski will help Mayfield, but there is a risk Kevin will be so like he was in Minnesota — so close to the vest — that Mayfield’s creativity might not show up,” an offensive coach told The Athletic. “There is a fine balance there. Mayfield is a three that needs to understand how to play quarterback better than just going back and playing street ball.”
Mayfield fell into Tier 3 in the ratings, garnering six Tier 2 votes, 38 Tier 3 votes and six Tier 4 votes. He was ahead of his draft-mate Josh Allen and just behind Derek Carr.
Baker Mayfield Primed for Big Season
If there’s one thing Mayfield loves, it’s being doubted, which has happened to him every step of the way during his career. He’s been working out like a madman this off season to stay in shape and has minimized a lot of the talking that took place last offseason.
“I have a different approach to this year,” Mayfield told reporters in May. “I think everybody who has been interviewed on our team has hit the nail on the head over and over about it is time to work. It is time to do our thing, instead of talking about it. It is just time to go do it. Right now, it is kind of moving in silence, which is fine with me. That is how I used to do it before getting on a bigger stage so I am happy to get back to those roots and like I said earlier, get back to the fundamentals to where I can accomplish the goals when the season comes around.”
It also helps that Mayfield has one of the most talented offensive arsenals in the league to work with. Stud pass-catchers Jarvis Landry, Odell Beckham and TE Austin Hooper should help him pile up stats, while running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt will form a two-headed attack that will take the load off Mayfield’s shoulders.