Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Baker Mayfield by the numbers: Browns quarterback on pace to match impressive Peyton Manning, Dan Marino marks

The Cleveland Browns have waited a long time to find a franchise quarterback, but those 25-years of waiting — and starting over as an expansion franchise — before finding Baker Mayfield have been worth it. Mayfield has helped the Browns reach heights not seen by the franchise since Bill Belichick was head coach, leading Cleveland to a playoff victory and an 11-win season for the first time since 1994. 

The Browns have long been considered the NFL‘s poster child of embarrassment. Since returning to the league in 1999, Cleveland recorded 16 losing seasons and made the playoffs just one time prior to Mayfield’s arrival. The Browns went through 28 different starting quarterbacks prior to Mayfield — by far the most in the NFL.

While the rest of the league is reserving judgment on Mayfield, Cleveland fans have the franchise quarterback they’ve been coveting since Bernie Kosar was leading the team to consecutive AFC Championship Games in the mid-1980s. When Mayfield took over as the Browns’ starting quarterback in Week 3 of the 2018 season, Cleveland was winless in 19 consecutive games and just 1-35-1 in its last 37 games. Since Mayfield took over for Tyrod Taylor in that Week 3 game, the Browns are 24-22, while Mayfield hasn’t missed a start (the Browns won just 24 games from 2011 to 2017). 

Mayfield as transformed the Browns into AFC North contenders, giving the organization hopes of reaching the Super Bowl for the first time in franchise history. In the first edition of “By The Numbers” for the 2021 season, let’s take a look at Mayfield’s historic start and how he’s chasing numbers only Peyton Manning has reached in NFL history. 

Excited for the biggest NFL schedule in history? Follow along on the CBS Sports app and get the latest insights from our team of NFL insiders, plus news from our team of experts, as well as data insights on every player. If you already have the CBS Sports app, make sure to favorite the your favorite team so you don’t miss a thing!

Most pass yards by No. 1 pick (first three seasons)

  1. Andrew Luck — 12,957
  2. Peyton Manning — 12,287
  3. Jameis Winston — 11,636
  4. Cam Newton — 11,299
  5. Baker Mayfield — 11,115

Most pass TD by No. 1 pick (first three seasons)

  1. Andrew Luck — 86
  2. Peyton Manning — 85
  3. Carson Palmer — 78
  4. Baker Mayfield — 75
  5. Jameis Winston — 69

Highest passer rating by No. 1 pick (first three seasons)

  1. Baker Mayfield — 89.1
  2. Jameis Winston — 87.2
  3. Andrew Luck — 86.6
  4. Cam Newton — 86.4
  5. Peyton Manning — 85.4

*Minimum 1,500 attempts

Highest completion percentage by No. 1 pick (first three seasons)

  1. Carson Palmer — 63.79
  2. Baker Mayfield — 61.89
  3. Jameis Winston — 60.82
  4. Peyton Manning — 60.39
  5. Cam Newton — 59.80

The degree of difficulty for quarterbacks getting drafted first overall and succeeding in the league immediately is high. For every Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck who play well, there is a Jeff George and JaMarcus Russell who flop in their first few seasons — whether by injury or performance. Quarterbacks drafted first overall are under intense pressure to succeed once they take the field.

Mayfield isn’t just one of the most successful quarterbacks to be selected No. 1 overall in league history after three seasons, he has reached marks only Manning and Luck have accomplished. Mayfield joined Manning (1998-2000) and Luck (2012-2014) as the only players in NFL history to record at 3,500 passing yards with 20 touchdown passes in each of their first three seasons — all three are No. 1 overall picks. 

There’s even more history on the line for Mayfield as he enters his fourth season. 

  • If Mayfield throws for 3,500 yards in 2021, he’ll join Manning as the only players in league history to throw for 3,500-plus yards in each of their first four seasons. The same applies if he throws for 20 touchdowns again with those 3,500 yards. 
  • Manning and Marino are the only players in NFL history that have thrown for 15,000 passing yards and 100 touchdowns after four seasons. Mayfield needs 3,885 passing yards and 25 touchdown passes to reach those marks. 

The 17-game season will aid Mayfield in his quest for history, but there will be no asterisk involved. The NFL never put an asterisk when the schedule switched from 14 to 16 games in 1978. 

While Mayfield has been on the verge of history, the Browns quarterback is etching his place amongst the franchise’s all-time great quarterbacks. Cleveland has come a long way from the never-ending rotation of starting quarterbacks the franchise tried to employ through two decades. 

Most passing yards– Browns history

  1. Brian Sipe — 23,713
  2. Otto Graham — 23,584
  3. Bernie Kosar — 21,904
  4. Frank Ryan — 13,361
  5. Tim Couch — 11,131
  6. Baker Mayfield — 11,115

Most passing TD — Browns history

  1. Otto Graham — 174
  2. Brian Sipe — 154
  3. Frank Ryan — 134
  4. Bernie Kosar — 116
  5. Baker Mayfield — 75

Most passing yards in a season — Browns history 

  1. Brian Sipe (1980) — 4,132
  2. Brian Sipe (1981) — 3,876
  3. Bernie Kosar (1986) — 3,854
  4. Baker Mayfield (2019) — 3,827
  5. Brian Sipe (1979) — 3,793

Most passing TD in a season — Browns history

  1. Brian Sipe (1980) — 30
  2. Frank Ryan (1966) — 29
  3. Derek Anderson (2007) — 29
  4. Brian Sipe (1979) — 28
  5. Baker Mayfield (2018) — 27
  6. Baker Mayfield (2020) — 26

Sipe is the only quarterback in Browns history to throw for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns in a season, marks Mayfield can reach over the next several years with the 17-game season in play. Mayfield continues to move his way up the Cleveland record books, needing just 2,247 yards to move past Ryan into fourth place on the all-time passing yards list. He needs 42 touchdowns to pass Kosar for fourth on the passing touchdown list.

Mayfield already has a list of notable accomplishments with the Browns this early in his career.

  • Mayfield is the first quarterback in Browns history to throw for 10,000 yards in his first three years.
  • His eight career games with 300 passing yards are the third most by a Browns quarterback since 1950. Sipe has the most with 18 and Kosar is second with nine. 
  • Mayfield is the second Browns quarterback to start 16 games in consecutive seasons (2019-2020) and his streak of 44 consecutive starts is the longest by a Browns quarterback since Sipe started 70 from 1978 through 1982. 

  • Mayfield is fifth in Browns history in games with at least two touchdown passes (24) and has the most multiple pass touchdown games in his first three years for the franchise.

  • Mayfield threw at least 20 touchdown passes in each of his first three seasons, the first Browns player to accomplish the feat. He was also the first Browns quarterback to reach the mark since Brian Sipe reached it from 1978 through 1980. 

  • Mayfield was the first Browns player to start his career with three straight seasons of 3,500 passing yards, and just the second player in franchise history to reach 3,500 yards in three straight years (Sipe, 1979-1981). 

  • Mayfield recorded at least one touchdown pass in each of his first 17 career starts, trailing only Kurt Warner (23) for most consecutive starts with a touchdown pass to begin an NFL career.

Not only has Mayfield put up impressive numbers for the Browns, but the franchise wins games as a result. The Browns are 15-1 when Mayfield posts a 100-plus passer rating, 14-1 when he posts a 100-plus passer rating and a passing touchdown, and 12-1 when he posts a 100-plus passer rating and multiple passing touchdowns. Cleveland is also 9-0 when Mayfield completes at least 70% of his passes.

Cleveland has waited a long time for a quarterback like Mayfield to lead the franchise. Mayfield’s stability at the position is why the Browns are an AFC contender for the first time in 35 years and have a significant opportunity to win their division for the first time since 1989. 

The success of the Browns in 2021 hinges on Mayfield. Based on the numbers, there’s a strong opportunity for Cleveland to return to the postseason in consecutive years for the first time since reaching the playoffs in five straight seasons from 1985 to 1989. 

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