Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield was very good as a rookie. He set an NFL rookie record with 27 touchdowns. We figured he’d be even better his second season.
Maybe Mayfield will have a great 2019, but it’s off to a slow start. His success this season is almost entirely tied up in one play over two games. If we remove an 89-yard touchdown on Monday night by Odell Beckham, in which Beckham shot past the Jets secondary, Mayfield has 521 yards, one touchdown and four interceptions. While you can’t just ignore an 89-yard touchdown — Mayfield made the right read and delivered a pass that allowed Beckham to break for a big gain after the catch — it has been a disappointing start.
Mayfield goes back on prime time, as the Browns host the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night, a game that can be live-streamed on the Yahoo Sports app. It’s one of the biggest games the Browns have had since re-entering the NFL in 1999. It would be even more exciting for Browns fans if not for their team’s relatively slow start.
Baker Mayfield, Browns had a lot of offseason hype
The Browns and Mayfield came into the season with a lot of hype. They finished last season very well, added Beckham in a trade and looked like contenders. Then they lost 43-13 at home in Week 1 to the Tennessee Titans, with Mayfield throwing three interceptions. The Titans are 0-2 since.
The Browns won in Week 2, but that was against a Jets team that was without Sam Darnold and lost backup quarterback Trevor Siemian to injury early in the game. Cleveland’s offense struggled to put the Jets away until Beckham’s big play.
Mayfield hasn’t been as accurate as usual. Accuracy is one of his strengths, but he has missed on some throws this season and said that was due to his mechanics.
“It goes back to getting the basis down, not getting ahead of my feet and making sure I am in the right place at the right time,” Mayfield said. “Get my feet going and my eyes will follow.”
Teams are disguising coverages against Mayfield. The Browns’ offensive line hasn’t been good. Freddie Kitchens has a huge adjustment going from interim offensive coordinator to head coach. There are a lot of factors contributing to Mayfield’s slow start.
But Mayfield is the quarterback, and all eyes will be on him to see if he can quickly get out of this mini-slump.
Rams provide big test for Browns
It’s a good bet that Mayfield hasn’t lost confidence after two games.
Mayfield has an endless belief in himself, which is a positive for a Browns team that hasn’t had much go right in two decades. If they beat the Rams on Sunday night, they’ll feel pretty good about a 2-1 start with a quality win.
It won’t be easy. The Rams shut down the Saints last week after Drew Brees left with a thumb injury, and they have a lot of talent on both sides of the ball. The Browns will also be without tight end David Njoku, who has a broken wrist.
Even with the Browns’ relatively show start, this is still a big showcase game for one of the more interesting teams in this NFL season. Mayfield’s slow start isn’t a big concern, because he played very well as a rookie last season and it’s only two games into his second year.
But if Mayfield has a third straight slow game against the Rams, it might start to look like a real sophomore slump.
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