There were plenty of culinary puns coming out of Cleveland out of sheer excitement playing upon the names of quarterback Baker Mayfield and head coach Freddie Kitchens. But, granted, without some of his top receivers, the only thing Mayfield’s offense was cooking last night in a loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was burnt toast.
As the Baltimore Ravens go on to celebrate their truly remarkable and astounding feat of 16 consecutive preseason victories—I can only assume this will find its way into Canton at some point in time—the Cleveland Browns got a cold splash of reality. They should be a better team this year, but it won’t be all smooth sailing.
Now, their defensive front looked pretty dominant at times against the Buccaneers’ front line, particularly Olivier Vernon, who will be going up against Matt Feiler this year for the Steelers at right tackle. Myles Garrett on the other side is no slouch. But they’re not going to win the division with defense.
If the Browns mean to claim the North for literally the first time ever (it’s only been a division since 2002), they’re going to need more out of the offense. It’ll sure help a lot to be playing with Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry, who did not participate in last night’s game, but you need to work with what you have, and there were certainly times were Mayfield simply didn’t look very good.
The second-year quarterback played the entirety of the first half for the Browns, a total of 32 snaps, spanning seven possessions. They averaged a little over 10 yards per drive, 75 in total, with Mayfield going 10 for 26 throwing for 72 yards. He didn’t get into the end zone (the Browns had only four field goals on the day) and ended his day with an interception.
Dare I say it, he hasn’t looked quite as good as Daniel Jones so far this preseason. You may have heard that Mayfield recently expressed disbelief that the New York Giants selected the Ivy Leaguer with the sixth-overall pick, though there was criticism of the Brown for taking him over Sam Darnold as well.
So far this preseason, participating in two games (and he won’t participate in the fourth), the second-year quarterback completed 15 of 32 passes for 149 yards, averaging 4.7 yards per attempt, with one touchdown, one interception, and one sack, with no scrambles.
Peyton Manning recently said that Mayfield’s lack of on-field work with Beckham will result in the pair struggling. Drew Stanton, Mayfield’s backup, disagreed. “Peyton was one of those guys that needed those reps because the receiver has to be right here at this spot”, he told Cleveland.com. “Everything was so rehearsed and he was the conductor of that offense. Guys like Odell have that ability where you have a good feel. You know when he sinks his weight or he puts his foot in the ground and he does something you can roll out of it”.
I think I might listen to Manning a bit more than Stanton. But after watching last night’s game, I certainly can’t imagine throwing Beckham out there hurting Mayfield any.