It has been a struggle for the Cleveland Browns to make any significant headway toward becoming a playoff contender. The hope remains that third-year quarterback Baker Mayfield can become the franchise cornerstone that will finally guide them forward. Mayfield has continued to struggle to begin the 2020 season, which has led to a Browns’ legend to hint at more disaster ahead in Cleveland.
Baker Mayfield’s struggles continue
Since his promising rookie campaign, Baker Mayfield has struggled to find his footing with the Browns.
Plenty of factors impacted the 2019 season, but it’s hard to overlook the drop in Mayfield’s production and consistency. The Browns underwhelmingly played below the hype around the franchise that centered on the quarterback’s shortcomings.
He had plenty of issues finding stable chemistry with star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. while the offense as a whole was among the least productive. Freddie Kitchens proved to be the wrong choice at head coach, which had some influence on Mayfield’s performance throughout last season. However, it’s hard to look entirely through that lens as the former Heisman Trophy winner had many forgettable performances.
His 2020 season has also gotten off to a bumpy start. He completed 21-of-39 passes for 189 passing yards with a touchdown and an interception in the 38-6 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. All that has further lit a fire under his hot seat as the long-term starter with the franchise. It has even led to one former Browns’ great to suggest that more troubling times may lie ahead.
Joe Thomas suggests Browns could move off Baker Mayfield after 2020 season
The Browns’ continued struggles have garnered consistent criticism directed toward Baker Mayfield. His play hasn’t met the standards for a No.1 overall pick, let alone a starting NFL quarterback.
Mayfield’s rough start to the season has quickly drummed up the chatter around his long-term future with the franchise. Future Hall of Famer Joe Thomas has voiced that if the 25-year-old can’t take a significant step forward, the Browns may finally take a serious look toward moving on from him, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.
“It’s fair for anybody that’s being honest with themselves to say ‘look, you may love Baker, you may love the things that you’ve seen from him, but you have to have some question marks and wonder is he going to prove it this year the way he did in year one?”
Thomas continued: “Because you can’t just keep going on forever with a quarterback that’s not performing well and say ‘eventually he’s going to get it.’ Eventually you have to be honest with yourself and say that maybe who you thought he was, that’s not who he is.”
Mayfield is in his third year, which is plenty of time to assess what he brings to the table. Yes, there hasn’t been any tremendous stability over his first two seasons at head coach with Hue Jackson and Freddie Kitchen, but it’s no-doubt a make-or-break 2020 season.
Future lies directly in his hands
It’s hard to beat around the bush at this point to say that the 2020 campaign isn’t anything short of a career-defining year for Baker Mayfield.
The Browns may have their second straight first-year head coach with Kevin Stefanski, but it’s another offensive-minded coach. Cleveland remains all-in with the former 2018 first overall pick, which is evident by adding Odell Beckham Jr., Austin Hooper, Kareem Hunt, and Nick Chubb around him over the last two years.
The table is set for Mayfield to finally step forward to prove he is the franchise quarterback that the Browns and their fan base have desperately wanted for over the last two decades. He has the talent around him; it’s on his shoulders to make the most of the situation. If not, he could see his tenure end quickly as it has for the many starting quarterbacks in Cleveland before him.