The Cleveland Browns, 4-1, are off to their hottest start since Bill Belichick was the coach. But they sure as hell are not winning because of their quarterback; 2020 Browns is not a Baker Mayfield story. Cleveland is winning with coaching, defense, and the run game.
Cleveland has been better this season than a year ago, mostly because Mayfield is staying out of the way. Kevin Stefanski has done an excellent job dialing up run plays and mixing in Mayfield’s play-action to keep teams off balance.
The Browns run the ball more than any football team, throwing the ball just 48.35% of the time. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt have carried this offense. Hell, D’Ernest Johnson is getting a significant amount of carries now.
Let’s think about this for a second; what was the season’s most impressive pass play? The clear winner is Jarvis Landry. A wide receiver made the best pass all year by the Browns.
Overall, Mayfield’s numbers aren’t terrible. 61.2% with a 9-4 TD to INT ratio is okay. 6.4 yards per attempt not so much, but the pure numbers don’t tell the whole story.
The Browns don’t trust him to carry this offense: Albeit, an offense with tons of star power. There’s a clear difference in the stat line when Mayfield gets more attempts in each game.
When Mayfield’s attempts are up, he struggles. For Mayfield to succeed, it needs to be a run on first and second downs, and maybe we will consider throwing the ball on third. Any more than 30 attempts per game, and Mayfield has struggled.
The defense is a big story for the Browns. More so than anything, it’s a Myles Garrett story. If you want to argue that Garrett is the year’s defensive player, I will not object. Garrett has six sacks in five games and also has forced three critical fumbles.
The Browns might be winning football games, but let’s make one thing clear. The 2020 Browns are not a Baker Mayfield story. It’s very reminiscent of the Case Keenum miracle Vikings. A team that Stefanski also played a pivotal part in.