On the heels of torching the Titans in a Week 13 win,Baker Mayfield and the Browns look more dangerous than ever before.
But, if you’ve been playing close attention, the young QB’s monster game speaks not only to the way he’s gradually elevated his play in Year 3, but also to his role as a steadying force for the franchise in the midst of an unparalleled season.
Browns general manager Andrew Berry spoke highly of Mayfield’s maturation on the most recent edition of the Huddle & Flow podcast with NFL Network’s Steve Wyche and Jim Trotter.
“I think Baker deserves a lot of credit in terms of how he’s approached this year,” Berry said. “I don’t know that the challenge of going into a third offensive system, no offseason can be appreciated enough externally. That’s no easy task for any player, let alone a young quarterback.”
As Berry pointed out, the 2020 campaign, already greatly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, marked Cleveland’s third straight with a reshuffled coaching staff. The sense of urgency was heightened by the need for the well-touted offense to live up to expectations after being scrutinized heavily for underperforming under Freddie Kitchens and coordinator Todd Monken a year ago.
Injuries to Nick Chubb in Week 4 and Odell Beckham , who suffered a torn ACL on the second play of Week 7’s opening drive, threatened to lead to another bout with regression, but the ever-confident Mayfield was able to flip the switch and show he can handle an increased load.
While Chubb’s four-game absence did impact the run-heavy attack deployed in the first few weeks, Mayfield still managed to go on a tear. He completed nearly 63% of his passes for 1,713 yards and recorded 14 TDs to five INTs from Weeks 5-13. Cleveland also went 6-2 in that span.
“I think the growth that Baker has shown, in terms of his decision-making, protecting the football and ultimately making plays that help us win games [is impressive],” Berry said. “I think everyone can see his growth really from quarter to quarter to quarter over the course of the season and he certainly deserves a lot of credit for the work that he’s put in.”
Up next on the docket is a rematch with the Ravens, a team Mayfield and the Browns have historically struggled against.
Mayfield extending arguably the best stretch of games in his young career with another signature performance in Week 14 would certainly add even more credence to the growth Berry spoke to.