This season has not gone the way any Browns fans hoped it would after last season’s 11-5 record and playoff win. A big reason for success last year especially in the second half was the play of Quarterback Baker Mayfield. Between injuries, inconsistent play, COVID, and off-field drama this year has been a year to forget for Mayfield. So let’s take a look at his season, the numbers, and the reasons why.
Baker finished the 2021 season having played in 14 games, throwing for 3,010 yards (22nd), 17 TDs (T-20th), 13 Interceptions (T-9th) all stats coming from PFF. According to ESPN Baker finished with a 35.3 QBR this season which ranked 26th, after finishing 2020 10th overall in QBR. Statistically speaking it was a bottom half of the league season from Baker but what does it all mean with all the other factors factored in.
(Image Credit: theathletic.com)
Analysis Of The Season
You can’t talk about Mayfield’s season without first talking about the torn labrum in his non-throwing shoulder. It was the first of what seemed like a million different injuries that occurred this season. Now I don’t and won’t blame all of the struggles this season on injuries as I believe it goes beyond that but the injuries clearly had a major impact. Watching the film this season I saw a guy who had to change his throwing motion to compensate. There was also the heel injury which you could see affecting his ability to drive the football. However, those are not the things that concern me the most. Losing accuracy and power due to injuries are things that can be corrected once healthy.
The biggest issues I have are with the mental aspect of the game, his ability to see the field and read a defense. I see someone that is hesitating, holding onto the ball, and often throwing late when the man is no longer open or taking unnecessary sacks. You also see a guy locking onto targets and trying to force the ball when others are open. Now could some of this be because of worrying that he can’t make the throws because of injury, yes that is possible. The Browns lost All-Pro Right Tackle Jack Conklin for the majority of the season. While also having Jedrick Wills and Wyatt Teller miss time. The line was shaky at times which may have made Mayfield feel uncomfortable or nervous.
(Image Credit theathletic.com)
Overall Evaluation of the Season
Baker started red hot against the defending AFC Champion Chiefs and later had great games against the Chargers and Bengals. We saw flashes of the guy that lead the Browns to a wild card birth in 2020, and that may be the most frustrating part. His wide receivers struggled at times to get open and make plays. Also missing Kareem Hunt for long stretches affected both the passing and running games. Baker showed a lot of grit and determination playing this year and I want to give him credit for that.
However, we are at the same spot that we were after the Freddie Kitchens season, unsure about the Quarterback situation. I understand the injuries to him and the rest of the team but there are some of the same complaints that we thought were fixed. Do I think a healthy Mayfield is a lot better than this year? Yes, I do 100%. My biggest worry is that bad habits that were fixed are starting to return. I believe healthy, mechanic issues are fixed, but can they fix his ability to see the field? In the end, we probably see a return in 2022 but lots to fix to make another playoff run.
–Jacob Roach (@roachizm13 on Twitter)
Featured Image Credit: sportingnews.com
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