Gradkowski: Browns' Struggles Not Entirely On Mayfield

Baker Mayfield hasn't been great, but perhaps he hasn't been as bad as his stats suggest

Reiter Than You
October 09, 2019 - 8:06 pm
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The Cleveland Browns (2-3), to put it mildly, have been underwhelming this season. A team that many expected to win the AFC North has a losing record, and their three losses have come by a combined 65 points.

Well, Baker Mayfield’s play – or lack thereof – is at the heart of Cleveland’s struggles. 

As a rookie, Mayfield completed 63.8 percent of his passes for 3,725 yards, 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 14 games. This year, he has completed 55.9 percent of his passes for 1,247 yards, four touchdowns and eight interceptions in five games.

Former NFL quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, however, believes Mayfield isn’t entirely at fault.

“His accuracy has dropped from last year, but there’s external factors that play into that,” Gradkowski said on Reiter Than You. “I think Baker is seeing defenses, but they’re moving around a lot. They’re trying to disguise. I think sometimes he’s overthinking things. He’s bailing out of the pocket too soon at times. But then the external factors come into play. There’s been some miscommunication on the receivers’ part. They’re not protecting the throw on in-routes or post-routes and cutting off the corner like Antonio Callaway should have on that throw to Richard Sherman that he intercepted.”

Mayfield finished 8-of-22 for 100 yards, two interceptions, four sacks and two fumbles (one lost) in a 31-3 loss to the 49ers on Monday.

Gradkowski thought the Browns’ protection scheme was partially at fault.

“A lot of times you had your tight end trying to block (Nick) Bosa,” Gradkowski said. “That’s not a good matchup. So then Baker has to move and throws the ball late. The one to Richard Sherman gets intercepted. So (there are) a lot of things going on offensively that’s not all Baker Mayfield. They have to do a better job of getting their quick game going and play-action pass – schematics that take some of the decision-making out of Baker Mayfield’s hands so he could drop back and play decisive and get back into that rhythm that he can play with.”

The Browns will try to get back to .500 this Sunday at home against Seattle (4-1). Kickoff is at 1 p.m. ET.