Baker Mayfield, the quarterback for the Cleveland Browns, won’t elicit any positive feedback from Bengals fans. For those who would dare compare him to Bengals fan favorite Joe Burrow, the parallels are of the postseason variety and banquet circuit kind. For those who watched the Browns in 2019, be careful to not bury the Heisman winner in this conversation.
Like Burrow, he also won the Heisman Trophy, Walter Camp and Maxwell Awards. Mayfield would have a huge final season at Oklahoma, losing a game the Sooners should have won in the Rose Bowl, against the Georgia Bulldogs, 54-48 as part of the College Football Playoff.
His rookie season saw him explode on the scene of the NFL in a Thursday Night nationally televised game against the New York Jets. Mayfield would bring the Browns back from a 14-0 deficit to win 21-17, and ending a 19 game winless skid. Ultimately, Baker would lead the Browns to a 7-8-1 record, and provide huge optimism for 2019.
That was then.
Most interesting about the soon to be twice a season matchup between Mayfield and Burrow is that these are two quarterbacks that their respective franchises have hitched their collective wagon to. Both organizations have been unimpressive, and both have been in desperate need of a reboot. It’s also where the comparisons end.
Without fail, Burrow is the better quarterback. While Mayfield has always been thought to be a very accurate passer, 2019 exposes some flaws that could be on the verge of snowballing. His footwork has gone south. He’s developed an erratic tendency in his passing game, and if 2020 shows to be a continuation of what fans saw in 2019, the Browns are suddenly in serious trouble.
In Mayfield’s defense, Freddie Kitchens did him no favors. This is a serious parting of the career arc that will be Mayfield vs. Burrows. As bad as 2-14 was, you can make a tangible argument Burrow brings some long term stability to the Bengals organization. You can make the same argument that a second season with Zac Taylor is a positive for Burrow and the Bengals.
Burrow vs. Mayfield will be an interesting watch for the next several years. It’s also reasonable that the soon to be Bengals first overall pick will eclipse Mayfield on sheer talent alone. Baker Mayfield has built a career on potential unfulfilled. Burrow will do better than that because the talent is unequaled.