Baker Mayfield Finally Looks Like a Franchise Quarterback

Ryan Phillips
Dec 15, 2020, 8:32 AM EST
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns v Tennessee Titans
Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns v Tennessee Titans | Frederick Breedon/Getty Images
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Baker Mayfield may have turned a corner. He's finally looking like the franchise quarterback the Cleveland Browns thought they were getting when they made him the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft. In back-to-back weeks the 25-year-old has risen to the occasion and been great when his team needed him.

Monday night, Mayfield was locked in a back-and-forth duel with reigning NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. While the Browns came up short, losing 47-42 to the Baltimore Ravens, their quarterback looked entirely comfortable in a playoff atmosphere. Mayfield threw for 343 yards and two touchdowns, with one interception while also running for a score.

Something appears to have clicked for Mayfield lately, and he's showing he's much more than a Progressive Insurance pitchman.

Over the last three weeks, Mayfield has completed 66.1 percent of his passes for 935 yards, with eight touchdowns and one interception. He's averaged 8.58 yards per attempt and has a passer rating of 113.5. In each game, his Total QBR has been above 81, which is very good. As a guide, only two players have a QBR higher than 81 on the season: Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers.

Perhaps most exciting for Browns fans was the success Mayfield had throwing down the field against the Ravens. He wasn't dinking and dunking and hoping for yards after the catch. He looked entirely comfortable working from the pocket, letting routes develop and hitting receivers downfield. Mayfield spread the ball to seven targets, was poised in the pocket and used his legs to extend plays and create additional opportunities.

Three weeks ago, I was the guy who wrote that Nick Chubb and Cleveland's running game were thriving while Mayfield was holding the team back. I stand by that. Mayfield was holding the team back. He has since stepped up in a big way.

Mayfield's numbers on the season still don't jump off the page. He's completing 62.3 percent of his passes for 2,785 yards, with 23 touchdowns and eight interceptions. He's averaging 7.5 yards per attempt and has a passer rating of 96.6. Those stats each put him somewhere in the middle of the pack among his peers. But over the last three weeks he's looked like a different guy.

Yes, the Browns lost Monday night, but they also showed they could battle it out in primetime against a fierce opponent. The Ravens looked as good as they have all year offensively, and Jackson turned back the clock to 2019 with his performance. Despite that, the Browns hung tough and answered every blow until the clock ran out. This is a new era in Browns football and Mayfield is finally stepping up to the task.

If the last few weeks are any indication, Baker Mayfield has turned a corner and is becoming the quarterback Cleveland Browns fans have been waiting 27 years to materialize.

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