Expectations for Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield in 2021

Expectations for Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield in 2021

Barry Devoe
3 years ago
3 min read
Expectations for Browns Quarterback Baker Mayfield in 2021

The Browns have fresh off of their best season in many years, thanks in part to the play of Baker Mayfield. The 2018 first overall pick seems to be the answer Cleveland has desperately searched for at quarterback for 20 years or so and now hopes to elevate the team, and his own standing in the league, even further.

Here are a few reasonable expectations to have for Mayfield heading into the new season.

Mayfield’s completion percentage increases

In 2020, Mayfield’s completion percentage increased from 59.4 percent to 62.8 percent. Now entering his fourth season, Browns fans can expect that number to increase even more in 2021.

Mayfield increasing his completion percentage, in general, wouldn’t be all too difficult. After all, he reached his career-high in 2018 at 63.8 percent on the same exact number of attempts (486) that he had last season. But now he is surrounded by even more talent than he was that season.

For Baker, it will be about finding that consistency on a week-to-week basis. In the last five weeks of the regular season, Mayfield’s completion percentages in each of those games went as follows: 75.76, 59.57, 84.38, 52.83, and 62.96. In fact, Weeks 2-4 were the only stretch where his completion percentage was better than 60 percent for more than two weeks in a row.

The good news, however, is that Odell Beckham Jr. is back in the fold and should be able to help raise that percentage on a more consistent basis. Not to mention, a fully healthy Nick Chubb in the backfield means that Kareem Hunt will be utilized more in the passing game, an easy way for Mayfield to improve on his percentage.

If Baker is able to average around 65 percent and avoid drastic swings on a week-to-week basis, the Browns offense as a whole should be a lot more consistent.

Mayfield goes for 30 touchdowns

There were ten quarterbacks who threw for 30 or more touchdowns in 2020, but it has been a while since a Browns QB was part of that group. In fact, you need to go back 41 years, when Brian Sipe set the franchise record with 30 touchdowns in 1980.

Will this be the year Mayfield breaks Sipe’s long-standing record after going for 27, 22, and 26 touchdowns the first three years of his career? There is lots of evidence in the second half of last year that shows Mayfield is in a position to do so.

With new head coach Kevin Stefanski, it took Mayfield a little bit of time to get used to the new offense. Baker had just one game in the first 10 weeks where he threw for more than two touchdowns, including three games in a row where he didn’t throw any. However, he managed 11 touchdowns in the finals six games to just one interception, all while attempting more passes on a regular basis.

Now with a better understanding of the playbook and more trust from his head coach, Mayfield will have more opportunities to throw the football. And that means him flirting with a franchise record.

Mayfield’s turnovers remain low

In addition to more of an active role passing the football, the biggest change to Mayfield’s second half was his interceptions decreasing. A year after throwing a career-high 21 interceptions to 22 TDs, he threw just eight picks during the regular season in 2020.

Out of those eight, just one came after Week 7, where to that point, he had thrown at least one pick in three straight contests. Whether it was Odell Beckham Jr.’s injury allowing him to not force the ball to him or another reason, clearly Mayfield made a huge change that lasted through the remainder of the season and Cleveland’s playoff run.

While it may not be reasonable to expect eight or fewer interceptions in 2021, it’s very possible that Mayfield can stay well below the 2019 figure that worried fans. If he does that, the offense will hum along.

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