With a first year head coach and a pandemic impacted offseason, Baker Mayfield's third season got off to a clunky start as the team was forced to learn the scheme on the fly with all the mistakes that came with it, but from week seven through the playoffs, Mayfield's play was outstanding.
Between his sophomore setback, being on his fourth head coach and the slow start this year, it's curious how much Mayfield's success has been downplayed or simply ignored while quarterbacks from his same class are celebrated even when they turn in mediocre performances.
Compare Mayfield's numbers from the first six weeks to his the last twelve, which included the postseason.
Through Week Six
103 of 170 (60.5 percent), 1.095 yards (182.5 yards per game), 10 touchdowns (5.8 percent), 6 interceptions (3.5 percent), 6.44 yards per attempt
Week Seven Through Divisional Round
246 of 387 (63.5 percent), 2,935 yards (244.5 yards per game), 20 touchdowns (5.1 percent), 3 interceptions (.7 percent), 7.58 yards per attempt
Mayfield's yards per game increased by 33.9 percent and his yards per attempt increased 17.7 percent as the offense shifted to feature him as opposed to the running game. His touchdown rate dipped slightly, but his interception rate improved by 80 percent.
For the segment of Browns fans who will inevitably ask, here are Mayfield's numbers without the three awful weather games against the Las Vegas Raiders, Houston Texans and Philadelphia Eagles.
210 of 320 (65.5 percent), 2,477 yards (275.2 yards per game), 18 touchdowns (5.6 percent), 3 interceptions (.9 percent), 7.74 yards per attempt
Even with the weather games included, Mayfield was great and there's every reason to believe there's still room for him to grow, especially if the Browns improve the weapons around him. Nevertheless, his numbers really pop when the wind isn't having a dramatic impact on the outcome of the game, throwing for 93 more yards per game compared to the first six games of the season.
It cannot be simply dismissed that Mayfield had to learn his third different offense since he's been in the NFL and fourth when including Oklahoma. The quarterbacks from his draft class that he's naturally compared to in Lamar Jackson of the Baltimore Ravens and Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills have benefited from having the same coaching staffs in place since they were drafted.
Allen and Jackson are still battling the issues that have dogged them since they entered the league in the games that matter the most. Mayfield, meanwhile, is flashing elite level quarterback play, turning in some of his best games in the most difficult of circumstances. He was the best player on the field in the Browns playoff game against the Pittsburgh Steelers by a substantial margin. Mayfield was impressive against the Chiefs, having one terrible decision that proved costly.
Jackson is still a wildly inconsistent passer occasionally capable of jaw dropping brilliance. When teams can limit his running ability, he can be downright unplayable, which keeps happening in the postseason.
Allen has improved substantially as a passer, but his accuracy can be streaky, he will occasionally stare down receivers and make incredibly bad decisions that his team then must overcome.
Allen took his team to the AFC Championship, Jackson has an MVP trophy and both have incredible regular season statistics, but right now, heading towards the 2021 season, Mayfield is the best of the group.