Baker Mayfield’s NFL career has been a teeter totter.
His rookie year, he was up. Mayfield set a record for touchdown passes by a rookie. His second year, way down. He struggled badly with poor decisions and turnovers. This season has been a bit of both, downs then ups and then back down again.
The Browns are hoping the past four games is where Mayfield is going to stay.
Mayfield is hot. He continued to roll late in the season with a fine game against a good New York Giants defense. Mayfield completed 27 of 32 passes for 297 yards and two touchdowns as the Browns got an easy 20-6 win over the Giants. They are 10-4 and are very likely to clinch a playoff berth soon.
The ambiguity about what Mayfield is as an NFL player seems to be dissipating. He looks pretty good at a point in his career in which quarterbacks should start to separate themselves.
Baker Mayfield stands out again
The three games before Sunday night were impressive for Mayfield. He had 935 yards, eight touchdowns, one interception and a 113.5 passer rating. The most impressive performance in that stretch might have been in a loss last week to the Baltimore Ravens. Mayfield made multiple clutch plays and put his team in position to win, only to watch Lamar Jackson and the Ravens take it away. The Browns lost, but Mayfield was a revelation.
Mayfield has had up games before, only to have that disappear. The seesaw might be staying up for a while.
Mayfield was in control on Sunday night. He made very few mistakes. He distributed the ball among his receivers and threw nice touchdown passes to Austin Hooper and Jarvis Landry. The Browns were never in danger of losing, thanks in part to failed fourth-down gambles by the Giants, one on a fake field goal and the other on a Wayne Gallman run up the middle that was stuffed. The Giants didn’t do much on offense, but Mayfield played so well that the result wasn’t in question anyway.
Browns continue playoff push
The Browns improved to 10-4. They haven’t clinched their first playoff berth since 2002 yet, but it should be coming soon. Cleveland looked like an average team with a good record earlier this season, but Mayfield’s hot streak makes the Browns look a lot more dangerous.
Mayfield has played his best this season since Odell Beckham Jr.’s season-ending knee injury, and maybe that isn’t a coincidence. Mayfield isn’t forcing many passes anymore. The Browns have a very good run game behind a strong offensive line, and that sets up Mayfield for success. He is content to take what the defense gives him, though he’s not afraid to take some well-calculated chances downfield.
Since Mayfield’s fantastic rookie season, there had to be moments in which the Browns couldn’t be sure if they had the right guy at quarterback. There were excuses for Mayfield’s play dipping, but there was no guarantee he’d find a steady level and stay there.
The past few games have been very good for the Browns. They have double-digit wins. They’re almost assuredly heading to the playoffs. And their young franchise quarterback has been leading the way.
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