Odell Beckham Jr. is done for the season with a torn ACL, but his teammate Baker Mayfield refuses to discuss whether he’s better off without him. “I think it’s completely insensitive to a guy who just tore his ACL,” Mayfield said Wednesday after being asked the sensitive question. “I’m not even going to comment on it.”
Now in his third year with the Browns (5-2) and fighting for a playoff spot, Mayfield has many good reasons not to broach the subject. But that won’t stop sports talk radio and blogs from digging into it because the stats suggest very clearly that he is. The sample size given below isn’t exactly fair, but the QB’s touchdown-to-interception ratio has improved dramatically since the Beckham injury.
NFL Network’s analytics expert Cynthia Frelund says the Baker TD to INT ratio without Beckham shouldn’t be a big deal based on her analysis. “One observable trend this season before Beckham’s injury was that rather than relying on Beckham, Cleveland was able to be strategic about his use on a greater number of passes. The win share of the Browns’ receiver unit will undoubtedly decrease without him,” Frelund theorizes.
“This is especially clear when evaluating the off-ball metric that says the opponent’s best defenders have had to account for OBJ at the seventh-highest rate in the NFL this season. (This stat reflects the frequency with which two or more defenders come within a 5-foot halo of a receiver between the time that the ball is released and caught on a given play, even if the receiver isn’t the intended target.)”
At this point, what matters to Browns fans is making the playoffs, and they should be happy because the team has an 81% probability of making it. The remaining schedule is favorable. The Browns will play five remaining games against teams that currently have losing records (Texans, Eagles, Jags, Giants and Jets) and home games against the Ravens and Steelers.
Cleveland’s five wins this season have come against teams with a combined record of 9-17-1. Baker just has to keep beating up on the bad teams, and Cleveland will have its first playoff appearance since January 5, 2003.
Baker Mayfield season stats and NFL ranking Post-Week 7:
Completion percentage: 63.1 (25th)
Yards: 1,392 (25th)
Yards per attempt: 7.0 (22nd)
Touchdowns: 15 (6th, tied with two others)
Interceptions: 7 (3rd most, tied with four others)
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) October 28, 2020