I think it’s finally safe to say after eight games that the Cleveland Browns have found their franchise quarterback.
Baker Mayfield is riding a huge wave of momentum since taking over as the starting quarterback in Week 3 against the New York Jets but the last three games since interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens has taken over the play calling, Mayfield has shown the ability that giving the Browns organization and fan base hope that the quarterback position has finally been solved.
Mayfield has completed 73.8% (65 of 88) for 771 yards, nine touchdowns and only one interception with a 129.5 quarterback rating in his last three starts combined against Kansas City, Atlanta and Cincinnati.
For the season, Mayfield has completed 62.7% for 2,242 yards, 17 touchdowns and 7 interceptions and a 93.2 quarterback rating. He’s 3-5 as a starter but since taking over in the Jets game, the Browns are 4-5 and are still alive in the AFC playoff race 1.5 games behind division rival Baltimore.
In comparison, the Browns were 4-50-1 from November 24, 2014 to September 16, 2018 in which they started ten different starting quarterbacks in that span (Hoyer, Manziel, Shaw, McCown, Davis, Griffin, Kessler, Kizer, Hogan, Taylor).
Mayfield is also setting records in his hot start to his NFL career.
- He’s the first Browns quarterback since Vinny Testaverde to throw two or more touchdown passes in five consecutive games.
- He’s the first Browns quarterback since Bernie Kosar to throw at least one touchdown pass in eight consecutive games
- His 17 touchdown passes are the most by a Browns rookie quarterback, breaking Tim Couch’s record of 15 from 1999 and has tied for the most by a Browns quarterback in their first season with Otto Graham who had 17 in the inaugural Browns season in 1946
- His touchdown to interception ratio is currently 17:7 is the best by a Browns quarterback since Derek Anderson in 2007 (29:19)
- If he stays on pace with his 249.1 passing yards per game, he’ll break Brandon Weeden’s rookie record of 3,385 passing yards set in 2012. Mayfield is currently at 2,242 and if he stays on pace, he’ll finish with 3,488 yards.
While he’ll get much of the credit and recognition for the Browns turnaround, I think Mayfield himself would credit everyone around him and they should be praised as well.
Starting up front with the offensive line, while you’ll look and see he’s been sacked 22 times in nine games which isn’t ideal for a rookie or any quarterback in the NFL, over the last three games the line has stepped up and performed much better allowing just two sacks including the last two games where they haven’t allowed a single sack.
Kitchens has made it apparent for plays where Mayfield gets the ball out quicker and the line has done a good job to keep him upright and allow him to make plays whether it’s quick or whether he has to roll out of the pocket and extend plays.
Also have to give credit to the skill players around Mayfield. The running game has been strong with Nick Chubb and Duke Johnson both excelling in the running game as well as receiving. Chubb never got enough recognition in Georgia for his receiving ability but Kitchens and Mayfield have put it on display in the last few weeks.
The wide receiver and tight end positions have been criticized throughout the season as well but they’ve stepped up their efforts as well. Mayfield has spread it around to everyone and they’ve all made plays when they needed to get points on the board.
Whether it’s Jarvis Landry, David Njoku, Antonio Callaway or even guys like Breshad Perriman and Darren Fells, everyone is making a contribution on offense and if you’re getting open, #6 is going to get you the football, the target just needs to finish the job and for the most part they have.
The Browns are on a roll right now and with Mayfield as the leader of this team, the future right now is looking awfully bright for the Cleveland Browns.