Baker Mayfield 'out to prove' he's better than last year showed

Baker Mayfield didn't see improvement in his second season in Cleveland. In fact, on some levels, the quarterback regressed from a promising rookie season.

Entering a pivotal Year 3, Mayfield knows he must make big strides in 2020.

Last year, Mayfield threw 22 TDs and 21 INTs while completing just 59.4 percent of 534 pass attempts for 3,827 yards. The Browns QB never got in sync with Odell Beckham Jr. and made far too many head-scratching decisions. There were more 'what the heck was he thinking' plays from Mayfield last year than explosive connections.

After setting the rookie TD record in 2018 with 27, Mayfield ranked 31st among 32 qualified QBs in completion percentage, 31st in INTs, 31st in passer rating (78.8) and dead last in TD-INT ratio in 2019. Mayfield has thrown 35 interceptions since 2018 (second-most in NFL) -- only Jameis Winston (44) has thrown more in that span.

In 2019, perhaps the offseason hype got to Mayfield. In 2020, the quarterback isn't seeking to build a booklet of excuses in case things go awry, not even the fact that he's moving to his third offense in three seasons.

"It could be an excuse if you use it, but that's not what I'm doing here,'' he said. "Singular focus on this year and what we can do, and that's the ultimate goal so move forward."

The Browns kick off the 2020 campaign against the reigning AFC North champion Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. It's a tough test in a key season for Mayfield & Co.

"We know what we have to do. We've installed everything," he said. "We're putting together a good gameplan, and we'll have that ready to roll. Everybody just has to go out there and execute it. It's not about what's happened and the adversity. It's about how you can handle those things. That's just our motto."

Unlike last year, the Browns aren't entering the season as offseason darlings, even though many of the same pieces that brought about the hype a year ago remain in place. The difference is the skepticism Mayfield brought upon himself with his up-and-down play last year.

It's on the young QB to prove he can even out the rough spells and turn his potential into wins. If not, the millennium-long saga of Browns shuffling QBs might continue in 2021.

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