Baker Mayfield Frustrated With Performance In Win Over Vikings
The Cleveland Browns’ rebuilt defense flexed their muscles in Sunday’s 14-7 road win against the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, which moved them to 3-1 on the season.
The victory has the Browns in a three-way tie with the Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals for first in the AFC North. Kevin Stefanski’s club is also one of the seven AFC teams that sits at 3-1 through four weeks.
There was obviously a lot to like about the Browns’ impressive win against a high-powered Minnesota offense, but to say that quarterback Baker Mayfield was displeased with his own performance would be a massive understatement.
Mayfield completed just 15 of 33 pass attempts for 155 yards and no touchdowns. He was also sacked three times, bringing that total to 12 on the season.
“I’m not really happy with myself,” Mayfield said after the game, per ESPN’s Jake Trotter. “But our defense is playing well enough right now to save me,” Mayfield said. “I’ve got to be better. It’s just flat-out simple. There’s not much else I can say.”
Through four weeks, Mayfield has a 65.5 completion percentage for 935 yards and two touchdowns against as many picks.
Of course, injuries to key players on offense hasn’t helped matters. Pro Bowl wideout Jarvis Landry, who has missed the last two games with a sprained MCL, remains on the IR.
Cleveland’s other star wideout, Odell Beckham Jr., missed the first two games of 2021 recovering from a torn ACL he suffered last season.
Once Mayfield has both of his top receivers on the field together, the Browns offense should only get better. But for now, they have to be pleased about the 3-1 start as well as the performance of a dominant defense that is allowing just 16.8 points per game thus far.
Cleveland will next take on the 3-1 Los Angeles Chargers — who open as a one-point favorite — at SoFi Stadium this Sunday (4:05 PM EST). Browns fans may be interested to know that Ohio legal sports betting is in the works.
Jedrick Wills Jr. Injury Update
Browns second-year offensive tackle Jedrick Wills Jr. left the third quarter of Sunday’s win against Minnesota with an ankle injury.
Wills, who has been playing through the injury, was taken to the locker room on a cart. His status for Week 5 and beyond remains unclear at this time.
Stefanski said to reporters on Monday that the team “will see how he is with his ankle and how he does throughout the week”, per Scott Patsko of Cleveland.com. Stefanski also confirmed that the Browns are awaiting MRI results on Wills’ ankle.
The Browns drafted Wills 10th overall last year. Although the club’s stout offensive line has struggled through four weeks, Wills himself has yet to surrender a single sack, per Pro Football Focus.
Mayfield and company could certainly use Wills as they prepare to go up against the Chargers’ stingy defense, led by superstar pass rusher Joey Bosa (2.5 sacks in four games).
PFF’s Top-Graded Rookie? Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah
The Browns struck gold when they selected Notre Dame linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, widely projected to be a first round pick, with the 52nd selection in this year’s draft.
Through four weeks, Owusu-Koramoah is the highest-graded rookie at Pro Football Focus, garnering an impressive grade of 89.8.
The Browns made significant changes to their defense this offseason. It started with the free agent signings of standout safety John Johnson III cornerback Troy Hill and Pro Bowl pass rusher Jadeveon Clowney.
Those moves were followed by the draft selections of Northwestern corner Greg Newsome II (26th overall) and Owusu-Koramoah.
Through four games, Owusu-Koramoah has recorded three passes defended, 17 combined tackles and a half sack. He has also been very stout in coverage, allowing just three completions on nine targets for 21 yards, according to Pro Football Reference.
Through four weeks, the Browns have surrendered just 250.3 yards of offense per game. Only the Buffalo Bills (216.8 yards per game), have allowed fewer.
The Browns rank second in scoring defense, trailing only Buffalo (11 points allowed per game), Denver Broncos (12.3) and Carolina Panthers (16.5).
Cleveland ranks third overall against both the pass and the run. Needless to say, GM Andrew Berry’s heavy offseason investments on the defense are paying major dividends.