BEREA, Ohio — Baker Mayfield stood within the visiting locker room, bruised and battered. His proper shoulder was wrapped in ice; his left leg was fitted with a assist sleeve.
Monday evening, the San Francisco 49ers beat up Mayfield, actually and figuratively, with defenders Nick Bosa and Richard Sherman every calling him out for causes each actual and, nicely, imagined.
Both manner, the 49ers emphatically made their level in a 31-Three stomping of Cleveland, forcing the Browns to confront this troubling realization: Their franchise quarterback, whom they’ve pinned a lot upon, is struggling.
The numbers from what may need been the worst efficiency of Mayfield’s whole profession — highschool, school or professional — had been alarming.
His Whole QBR in San Francisco was 4.2 (scale of zero to 100), which is second worst within the NFL this season, with solely New York Jets third-stringer Luke Falk producing a worse quantity. In accordance with ESPN Stats & Data, that Whole QBR was decrease than any Cleveland passer since — do not say it! — Johnny Manziel 5 years in the past.
On the season, Mayfield ranks 31st in QBR — solely Falk and Cam Newton have fared worse — whereas topping the NFL with eight interceptions. As soon as his calling card, Mayfield can also be finishing simply 55.9 p.c of his passes. That ranks 33rd, forward of solely Miami’s Josh Rosen.
That is hardly what the Browns envisioned after they pushed their chips in and dealt for All-Professional extensive receiver Odell Beckham Jr. (more on him later) on the heels of Mayfield’s promising rookie campaign.
“Some of it has to do with the lack of protection,” coach Freddie Kitchens said Tuesday, when asked what plagues his quarterback. “Some if it had to do with a couple bad throws, couple bad decisions. Overall, we had some drops. You can’t do those things and play the quarterback position at an elite level. If you just want the honest answer, you have to have consistency around you, you have to be consistent yourself, and none of that happened.”
To be sure, Mayfield didn’t get the help any quarterback needs for much of Monday. His beleaguered offensive line stood little chance of blocking Bosa. Mayfield’s receivers also dropped too many passes — most notably Antonio Callaway, who bobbled away a surefire touchdown pass into the arms of K’Waun Williams, who raced 49 yards the other way to set up a game-changing 14-point swing just before halftime.
|>Min. 150 attempts | Source: Next Gen Stats|
But Cleveland’s lack of consistency includes Mayfield. In fact, it starts with him.
According to Next Gen Stats, Mayfield is throwing into double coverage (defined as two defenders being within 1 yard of the receiver at pass arrival) at a rate twice that of any other quarterback in the league.
He also continues to hold on to the ball for far too long, opening himself to unnecessary hits and negative plays, whether sacks or turnovers. Mayfield’s average time before unloading the ball Monday was 3.35 seconds, matching the longest he has taken to pass in a game in his career.
Even when his line held up, it didn’t seem to matter. When the line was credited with a pass block win, according to Next Gen Stats, Mayfield completed 2 of 8 passes and was sacked twice; when it wasn’t, he completed 2 of 8 passes and was sacked twice.
“Once again, I’m not hitting the panic button,” said Mayfield, who has had to say as much multiple times this year already. “We know the problem. We just have to do better. … [We] have to eliminate mistakes. You just have to.”
Eliminating mistakes alone, however, won’t cure all of Cleveland’s ills.
Inexplicably, the Browns still haven’t figured out how to get Beckham involved in the passing game — short of letting OBJ just pass the ball himself. According to Next Gen Stats, Mayfield went just 2 of 6 passing for 27 yards targeting Beckham on Monday, which did include a drop. Over the last two weeks, Mayfield and Beckham own the league’s worst reception rate — 30.8 percent — of any quarterback-receiver combo with a minimum of 10 targets.
“Is it concerning?” Kitchens said, in reference to the lack of synergy between his two stars. “I think that I have a lot of concerns.”
Restoring Mayfield to his former cool, confident, collected self should be chief among them. Instead, on Monday, Bosa referenced the 6-foot-1 Mayfield’s biggest red flag heading into the 2018 draft.
“I don’t know how anybody thought he would be able to see over Arik [Armstead] and Buck [DeForest Buckner],” Bosa said of his towering teammates. “But he was panicking. He was double-clutching, rolling back and forth. We had him rattled all game.”
Despite Bosa’s damning criticism, all hope is not lost for Mayfield or this Browns season.
As ESPN colleague Bill Barnwell pointed out, one other undersized quarterback out of Austin, Texas, struggled throughout his second season. That quarterback was benched in favor of 41-year-old Doug Flutie.
Chris Berman and Tom Jackson recap the weekend’s video games with prolonged highlights and evaluation.
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However Drew Brees quickly discovered his footing and a brand new residence in New Orleans on the best way to changing into a Tremendous Bowl-winning future Corridor of Famer.
As for this season, the Browns do have a pair of inauspicious video games developing in opposition to the Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots.
However after that, they’re going to face one of many best remaining schedules within the league, which culminates with a Dec. 22 residence bout in opposition to Baltimore in a showdown that would determine the AFC North.
Snapping the NFL’s longest playoff drought was what this season was actually all about. That continues to be reachable.
However that hinges on Mayfield. And whether or not Cleveland’s franchise quarterback begins to play like one once more.