This morning on ESPN, former NFL head coach Rex Ryan made the claim that Baker Mayfield is “overrated as hell.” Ryan admitted to being taken with the hype of the young quarterback last season, but has confronted the reality of Mayfield’s sophomore start thus far. It’s true, coach, Baker’s stats are not overwhelming this season.
Mayfield has been holding onto the ball far too long. He’s been throwing out of bounds on a regular basis and he’s good for at least one interception a game. Let’s not also forget his completion percentage is rather ugly hovering just below 57%. If you don’t think there’s room for improvement, then you don’t watch a lot of football.
However, this is the same guy who threw 27 touchdowns in his rookie year, setting an NFL record and doing so while not even playing all 16 games. If you call Baker a top-five quarterback right now, yes, I would agree with the opinion that he is overrated. However, in the context Rex Ryan was delivering this morning, it was a plain and simple reference to the Browns starting QB in an overall sense.
There are some extenuating circumstances contributing to Baker’s rickety start thus far. That offensive line seems to have devolved from last season. That does not help the current state of affairs at all. I remember former offensive lineman Joe Thomas recently saying that the line will be okay because as long as you have a quarterback who gets rid of the ball quickly, it makes the line look good. That’s all fine and dandy, Joe, but Mayfield seems to be running for his life far too often. Yes, he does need to get rid of the ball quicker at times, but that line needs to do better than an impression of wet paper.
The play-calling is another aspect that has made Baker out to be something lesser than he is. News flash, not every play needs to be a 40-yard pass. I think we have all heard enough about that glaring flaw in the last 24 hours, so I’m not going to dwell on that any more this week.
Does Baker Mayfield need to perform better on the field?
Is he overrated?
His coach needs to stop going off the reservation, thinking he’s years smarter than the opposition calling bone-headed plays. After all, where is the no-huddle we heard so much about in the preseason? Here’s an idea…let’s utilize that now. The GM needs to provide some more focus on the protection in front of him, too. In short, give the guy the rest of the tools he needs to functionally do his job.
That wasn’t luck that delivered some seriously needed leadership in the locker room last year. It wasn’t chance that he burnt up opposing secondary defenders last year. His confidence is obviously shaken right now, but he is also human, so there’s that.
Get back to a sensible game of offensive play-calling and play off Baker’s strengths. Let’s not try to reinvent the wheel in 2019. You wouldn’t take a reliever and try to turn him into a starter in half a year when he succeeded as a reliever, so don’t try to make Baker into a different style of player than he is.
As the old adage goes, let’s get back to basics.