Awful. This one word can be used to describe the Browns organization over the last 3-4 years.
The Cleveland Browns during the seasons of 2015-2017 accumulated an overall record of 4-44. In the 2018-2019 seasons the Browns were 7-8-1. One might ask how a team managed to do so poorly over a three-year period of time, and then suddenly put themselves right back in the mix. The answer? It lies within the quarterback position.
The last Browns quarterback to surpass 3,000 passing yards during a season was Brian Hoyer in 2014. He threw for 3,326 yards. A more shocking statistic, the last Browns quarterback to throw for at least 20 touchdowns was Derek Anderson with 29 in 2007. That’s right, 12 years ago. Until this year. Until Baker Mayfield came into Cleveland.
Has the narrative in Cleveland finally changed? I think so.
This past season Baker Mayfield threw for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns with a 63.8 completion percentage, ranking first among all rookie QBs in all three categories respectively. Mayfield’s 27 touchdowns in 2018 broke an NFL rookie record previously held by Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson, who both had thrown for 26 touchdowns their rookie seasons. Perhaps most noteworthy, he managed to do this while only starting in 13 of the Browns regular season games, he appeared in 14. Mayfield managed to win the AFC Offensive rookie of the week award seven times this season, in weeks 3, 7, 9, 12, 14, 16, and 17. Mayfield also won the AFC Offensive rookie of the month for the month of November. He joins offensive lineman Joe Thomas (2007) and quarterback Tim Couch (1999) as the only Browns to ever do so.
After reading off these staggering facts, one could easily think Mayfield would easily win NFL offensive rookie of the year for the 2018 season. However, it’s not that simple. The other frontrunner for offensive rookie of the year is Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants.
I’m here to tell you Barkley doesn’t deserve it.
Don’t get me wrong, Barkley is an amazing talent. In his rookie stint, Barkley rushed for 1307 yards and 11 touchdowns and also hauled in 91 catches for 721 yards and 4 touchdowns. There is no doubt that Barkley deserves to be in the conversation for offensive rookie of the year. He just doesn’t deserve it.
Running backs just aren’t as important to an NFL team’s long-term success as quarterbacks are. They come and go. For running backs, the NFL stands for “not for long”. Quarterbacks are long term. They’re the cornerstones of most successful NFL franchises. Baker Mayfield is the franchise. He is the future.
To those at the NFL, I implore you to do the right thing. Give Mayfield the hardware.