Baker Mayfield has become the epitome of everything he wasn’t last season. His immense swagger has become his greatest enemy as there is no “juice” without wins. He looks uncomfortable when the pocket breaks down, which in the past, has been the second year quarterback’s greatest strength. After a gut wrenching 32-28 loss to the surging Seahawks and MVP candidate Russell Wilson, it’s officially time to panic in Cleveland.
First year head coach Freddie Kitchens was in a prime position for a successful first season at the helm. Cleveland is coming off a 7-8-1 2018 campaign in which their overall #1 selection almost gave the team a long awaited playoff birth. Their offseason additions (Odell Beckham Jr. and Kareem Hunt) all made sense and added absolute firepower to an overall solid offensive unit. But nothing has transitioned to the field.
The Browns kicked off their 2019 campaign by getting shellacked by the now 2-4 Titans by a score of 43-13. Who’s quarterback, Marcus Mariota, has played so badly this season he was benched today for veteran journeyman Ryan Tannehill. Kitchens and company were able to right the ship to 2-2 until a fateful Monday Night Football match-up with the still unbeaten 49’ers in week 5. The Browns were dominated like a last place team and Baker Mayfield showed the least amount of moxie he’s shown in long time. The final score was 31-3, the wheels had officially fallen off.
Mayfield’s inner fire and gunslinger seems to have dwindled into a thought process fueled by not making mistakes. Like most things in football, fair or not, it starts with the QB. Baker is completing just 56.6% of his passes this season as compared to 63.8% in his rookie campaign. The most staggering statistic is his touchdown to interception ratio. Through six games, Baker has only thrown 5 touchdown passes, while simultaneously throwing 11 interceptions. That is absolutely putrid considering the amount of weapons surrounding him. Jarvis Landry, OBJ, David Njoku (IR), and Nick Chubb are just a few names that should be helping the young QB bring Cleveland back to playoff contention.
Even after all the bad, there’s still time to right the ship. The Browns have only slid to second in their division (AFC North), behind the 4-2 Ravens, whom Cleveland beat in week 4 by a score of 40-25. We’re only roughly a third of a way through the season. If the struggling Browns can get OBJ and Chubb/Hunt (returns in week 8) going we could be talking about a playoff push in a month or two. But until then, the weight of this franchise falls on the “BakeShow.” NFL stardom or bust hangs in the balance. For purely entertainment purposes, I hope its the prior. Either way, things are at Defcon 1 inside the Browns facility.