At this time last year, the Cleveland Browns seemed to be the favorite to not only make the playoffs,but compete for the Lombardi trophy at Super Bowl LIV.
However, a number of chemistry, production, and other issues plagued the Browns and derailed their promising season, a season in which they failed to reach the playoffs posting a disappointing 6-10 record.
Most of the criticism was directed towards quarterback Baker Mayfield, who put together a solid rookie season in 2018, as many expected him to take a step forward in his development. Despite the promise of his rookie season, the 2019 version of Mayfield seemed to take a step back, and maturity concerns also bubbled to the surface.
“Having success all through high school and college and having that standard so high, and the past couple of years have just been a roller coaster of emotions and not nearly as much success as I’m used to,” Mayfield said, according to ESPN’s Jake Trotter.
“So I would say I lost myself, not having that success, not finding out what was working. I think I tried different ways of trying to have that success, and I didn’t find it.
“So I lost myself in that, and I wasn’t able to be who I [need to be] for these guys on the team.”
This year Mayfield aims to put a strong season together, and has come into camp leaner and more muscular, a far cry from last season when he battled weight issues.
“I think there was a lot of plays — looking back on last year — physically, I wasn’t able to work out as much, being beat up. So I was heavier than I was ever playing before,” Mayfield said.
“I needed to be able to have the scrambling ability to move in the pocket. It’s my job to be in prime physical shape, to show up and do my job on Sundays.”
Mayfield wanted to work on “cutting out the bad body weight” to help him be quicker both in and out of the pocket, and used a dietitian to help this offseason.
“I’m in a much better state,” Mayfield said. “I put in the work. … [I’m] just ready to roll, attack, get back to where I need to be to be the leader for this team, for this franchise. The reason I’ve gotten here is because I’ve been myself, been able to attack each and every day with 100 percent effort.”
Now, Mayfield is looking to turn the page on a down season, and get back to the promise that preceded it.
“I think that’s one of those things that I talked about with our team — you gotta find that belief. You gotta find that confidence in yourself,” Mayfield said. “And that’s what I’ve based my story on, my whole career on, is confidence in myself and taking those chances.”