For Browns fans, the 2020 campaign has been pretty magnificent for them. Their team is off to a 5-3 start, and regardless of the two blowout losses, they are still happy that their team isn’t near 0-7. Although the season has been bright, there was one very dark spot that came in the first quarter in week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals. On an interception thrown by Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham Jr was attempting to tackle the defender, but then fell awkwardly and tore his ACL. And he is out for the season. After Baker Mayfield’s 0-5 start, with an interception, he completely turned it around. All without his WR1. After the comeback win, media and analysts were starting to ask: Is Baker Mayfield really better without Odell Beckham Jr?
Reasons why he IS better without Odell: When we look back at the rookie year for Baker Mayfield, his two best receivers were Jarvis Landry and Antonio Callaway. In the 14 games he played in, Cleveland went 7-7. They trade for Odell the next offseason, and it looks like these guys will be a threat. But, we got the complete opposite of that. Cleveland had a 6-10 record, and we didn’t get what we expected from Mayfield and Beckham. Odell did record 1,035 receiving yards, but averaged just 64.7 yards a game. We didn’t see much chemistry, and Odell just wasn’t Odell. It seems as if Baker is trying to force the ball to Beckham, instead of trying to find the open receiver more often than not. Since Baker is QB1 in The Land, the pressure falls on him to get the ball where it needs to go, whether it is to Odell or not. Let’s take the game against the Bengals for example. After OBJ went out, Baker finished the game 22/23 (the one incompletion being a spike), and five touchdowns. His best NFL game. We saw the confident, jaw-dropping Baker Mayfield that we saw at Oklahoma. You couldn’t have asked for a better performance. He found Rashard Higgins 6 times for 110 yards, as well as rookie tight end Thomas Bryant for 56 yards and a pair of TD’s. With a performance similar to Week 7, and with Nick Chubb coming back, we could be looking at the Browns as a contender.
Reasons why he is NOT better without Odell: We saw how bad the Browns were last year, but is the blame going to be forced onto Mayfield and Odell? The medical staff reportedly didn’t make good calls to sit OBJ out. He was playing with a hurt core muscle that needed surgery. Although he wasn’t 100%, he was before the Bengals game. He had a breakout game against the Cowboys, a decent game Thursday Night against Cincinnati, but has been pretty quiet since. Is that because Baker is making the wrong decisions? On film, there are plays that Odell is wide open, but Baker doesn’t see him and throws to another target. OBJ is an elite receiver, and it is on the QB to not get him the ball. Beckham had an aged Eli Manning as his quarterback, but was still able to make plays, and Manning was able to find him for big gains. If Mayfield doesn’t have enough trust in Odell, then he should be the one getting replaced. In 6 games, he is averaging just 7 targets each contest which shows you that Mayfield simply can’t get the ball to him.
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