Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has a clear goal for the coming season, one that he made easier to reach by setting the bar so low last year.
Via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the third-year passer said he has to prove himself again, after a disastrous second season.
“Out to prove [I’m] much better than what I’ve shown in the two years prior,” Mayfield said.
Mayfield raised expectations with a promising rookie season, only for those to fall flat last year, as he got worse in every passing category. His completion percentage dropped more than four points (63.8 to 59.4), the touchdowns were down (27 to 22) and the interceptions went way up (14 to 21). It came during another season of turmoil for the Browns, and he’s now on his third coach in as many seasons.
“It could be an excuse if you use it, but that’s not what I’m doing here,” he said. “Singular focus on this year and what we can do, and that’s the ultimate goal so move forward.”
That improvement has come in fits and starts, as he and the Browns first offense lost to Case Keenum and the second offense in a recent scrimmage, despite the fact he was working against the second defense and Keenum against the starters. Coach Kevin Stefanski said he’s seen progress since then, and likes where Mayfield is heading into the opener.
“I feel good about it,” Mayfield said. “Like you said, it is an offense where there is a lot of accountability. You have to be where you are supposed to be and be there on time. The same goes for my reads. Listen to the footwork, go through the reads, trust that and trust that they are going to call plays to get the ball into people’s hands.”
That means the pressure is on Mayfield more than ever, to prove he’s closer to what he showed as a rookie than last year’s disaster.