One of the common narratives that emerged about Cleveland’s 2020 offense was that the unit got better after Odell Beckham Jr. went out with a season-ending knee injury.
Several members of the team have taken issue with that characterization, pointing to the fact that the Browns were all learning a new scheme under head coach Kevin Stefanski and that the offense was naturally improving. During his Tuesday press conference, quarterback Baker Mayfield reiterated that’s the way he feels about how the situation evolved.
“I told you guys during the season, when we had that bye week, we were able to truly sit down and kind of see what we were doing well, what we weren’t. And we were able to grow from there,” Mayfield said. “So timing-wise, it was unfortunate when the injury happened. But that’s why you see the growth from the first half to the second half of the year.
“I wouldn’t say that it’s because we’re not throwing to him. You look at you take one person off, you still have 10 other guys who are on the field. So it’s not about that. The narrative can be what it is, but we’re looking forward to getting back to work together.”
To that end, Mayfield also noted that he and Beckham should show a better connection within the offense in 2021.
“Anytime you’re going from Year 1 to Year 2 in the same system, you’re going to make a tremendous jump,” Mayfield said. “But I also think where we were at before his injury happened on an under-thrown ball by me — we truly didn’t have a true identity on offense at that point. And I think that took our bye week right in the middle of the season last year to really sit down and do a self-scout and for us to grow.
“I’ve talked to Odell, he’s very happy with where he’s at in the rehab process. I’m happy for him. He looks good, he feels good, and looking forward to starting where we should.”
Beckham caught 74 passes for 1,035 yards with four touchdowns in 2019, his first season with Cleveland. In seven games last year, he had 23 receptions for 319 yards with three TDs. While Beckham’s catch percentage was at 62.7 percent in five seasons with the Giants, that figure is at 55.1 percent in 23 games catching passes from Mayfield with Cleveland.