The Cleveland Browns came into Sunday with a 4-1 record, their best such mark since Bill Belichick was their head coach in 1994, and quarterback Baker Mayfield has been decent statistically, so an obvious Mayfield problem hasn’t been discussed enough.
But after this interception to Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, which Fitzpatrick returned 33 yards for a touchdown, it should be discussed. First-year Browns head coach and offensive play-designer Kevin Stefanski has done a brilliant job in working to Mayfield’s strengths — primarily moving out of the pocket and making plays with boot-action throws — but as has been the case throughout his career when he doesn’t have defined reads, Mayfield is not yet a good quarterback from the pocket. He gets jittery when the reads are muddy, he will bail from the pocket before he should, and when he does stay in the pocket, things like this happen when he throws too early.
🚨 Baker Mayfield PICK-SIX 🚨
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 18, 2020
The metrics bear this out. Through the first five games, per Sports Info Solutions, Mayfield had completed 23 passes on a league-high 45 attempts outside the pocket for 296 yards, 261 air yards, four touchdowns, and one interception. In the pocket this season, including that Fitzpatrick pick-six, Mayfield has thrown four interceptions to just five touchdowns on 107 attempts.
Stefanski has done an amazing job of presenting Mayfield with schematic concepts that work for where he is at this point in his career, but until Mayfield can learn to be consistently calm in the pocket, this is going to be a problem against the NFL’s better defenses.