CLEVELAND (AP) — Baker Mayfield made some stunning mistakes Sunday in Jacksonville, turning a pretty routine win for the Browns into a nail-biter.
“I know I can be better,” he said.
Despite his mistakes, Mayfield did not commit the biggest sin of a quarter: an interception.
Mayfield, of whom 21 interceptions were the second-highest in the NFL last season, has not thrown a pick since Oct. 25-a period of almost five games and 123 consecutive passes. The Browns (8-3), currently ranked No.5 in the Playoffs looking ahead to this Sunday’s game against Tennessee, went 4-1 during Mayfield’s modest series.
He wants to follow his November without interception with a similar December.
“It’s knowing when to be aggressive and put us in the best Position to win, and it’s taking care of the Ball, and that’s what I’ve been working on and I’m definitely going to keep doing it,” he said after practice on Wednesday.
It’s a sign of growth and improvement for the QB in his third year, who is still plagued by inconsistency but is making sweepstakes this season as they position the Browns to eventually end their absence in the 18-year Playoffs.
Mayfield doesn’t hurt Browns with bad decisions.
“Yeah, that’s a big Problem,” coach Kevin Stefanski said. “It’s going to be another big thing this week against a Team that’s over-11 (in rotations).”
Stefanski credits Mayfield for hard work on repairing his defects. He’s not quite the gun slingshot he once was, more of a game Manager, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t sometimes take a risk by getting a Pass into a tight cover.
“You always have to ride that fine line of being aggressive and intelligent as a Quarterback, and I think he’s done a good job in the last few weeks,” Stefanski said. “And even in that last game he threw tight window balls that were supposed to be perfect and they were. He is doing a good job in this matter.”
While he has reduced turnovers, Mayfield, who has seven decisions in 2020, sometimes forces throws and misses others he shouldn’t-those the Elite Quarterback doesn’t miss.
In the first half on Sunday, he badly tipped Wide Receiver Rashard Higgins in the goal zone on what could have been one of the easiest Touchdowns of his career. Higgins had no defender in the Yards, but Mayfield did not see him at first and when he finally did, his throw sailed up.
In the same series, he beat catcher Jarvis Landy in the corner and the Browns were content with a goal on balls.
Then, during a critical sequence in the fourth quarter, Mayfield started behind running back Kareem Hunt on a third and short play. The incompleteness was followed by Stefanski playing and not kicking a goal on the field, only for the Browns to be stopped in the fourth row, giving a new life to the Jaguars.
Mayfield criticized his play after the game. A few days later he is still piquant from his mistakes.
“This game was tighter than I wanted because of some of the mistakes I made, so I was hard on myself,” he said. “I try to do better every week. It is to take care of the Ball and complete these passes that should be made in my sleep.”
Mistakes aside, Mayfield looks a lot different than the Quarterback the Titans mistreated at the opening of last season.
“He’s settled into this scheme and what they’re asking him to do,” Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel said. “It does a lot of good things at the melee line, puts you in good games that you want to perform. You can see his Operation.
“It’s just much more comfortable. He took care of football, which allowed them to be at the top of the league’s revenue margin.”