From the night he took the field during the game against the New York Jets on Thursday Night Football, big things were expected of Baker Mayfield. He’d already won the Heisman Trophy, he’d already been selected first overall in the NFL Draft, but here he was slinging big-time throws and helping the Browns to a much-needed win. Throughout his season, he kept them in games, and the Browns almost cost the Baltimore Ravens the AFC North crown in the final moments of the season. With the offseason brought change in Cleveland. Freddie Kitchens was promoted to head coach, Odell Beckham Jr. was acquired via trade — this was a roster that was ready to compete and be a contender.
And yet, here we are three weeks into the season asking, “What’s wrong with Baker Mayfield?” Everyone has offered theories, ranging from the level of opponent, to him not having faith in the offensive line and beyond. At PFF, we had high expectations of Mayfield coming into the season, so it’s time to dig into the data and try to figure out what’s going wrong and how the Browns can right the ship before it’s too late.
Before we get into the potential reasons for his struggles, let’s be clear, Baker Mayfield has regressed so far in 2019. He has not been terrible, with his 72.1 PFF grade ranking 10th among the 35 quarterbacks with at least 50 dropbacks so far this season, but that is a sizeable step down from his 84.5 PFF grade as a rookie in 2018. His adjusted completion percentage, which takes into account drops, batted passes, spikes, throwaways and plays where the quarterback was hit as he threw, was 74.0% a year ago but sits at just 65.7% this year. That sees him rank 33rd among quarterbacks, ahead of only Ryan Fitzpatrick and Josh Rosen in Miami among quarterbacks with at least 50 dropbacks.