For some, the old school advice that you are what you eat is gospel. But is it? For Baker Mayfield, the newly minted NFL signal-caller, the message is that all he has to do is eat healthy and work out to achieve his dream. This is a message that seems to have resonated with the Cleveland Browns QB; in the two years since he has been drafted he has lost over 30 pounds, eating mostly fresh vegetables and fruits, along with lean meats and fish. In the process he has gone from being a chubby teenager to an athletic quarterback who has excelled on the field of play, just like Tom Brady did at the same age.
I’ve always been a fan of Baker Mayfield, but I didn’t expect him to be a little behind Tom Brady on his way to stardom. Mayfield will be entering his third season in the NFL as the backup quarterback for the Cleveland Browns. He is entering his rookie year after being selected by the team in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and it won’t be long before he’s given a chance to be the number one QB. In this article, I’ll compare Mayfield to Tom Brady to show just how much Mayfield has been able to build on his tools so far.At first glance, it’s a ridiculous idea to compare Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfields first three seasons as an NFL starter to Tom Brady. We are fully aware of that.
Mayfield, the first pick in 2018, has come a long way to establish himself as the Browns’ future quarterback. That’s nothing compared to Brady, who won the Super Bowl in two of his first three seasons as a starter. What drove Mayfield down the path that made Brady the greatest quarterback in NFL history?
Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield learns early from Tom Brady | Billie Weiss/Getty Images
Anyone who saw the Browns play late in the 2020 season, especially in the postseason, saw a very different Mayfield. The player who destroyed defenses at the University of Oklahoma became a playmaker and playmaker, a man who avoided turnovers and used his running backs to his advantage.
Mayfield has thrown 11 touchdowns against one interception on 288 pass attempts in the last nine regular season games during that span. He also threw four touchdowns and an interception in two playoff games.
It’s not the flashy performance of Aaron Rodgers or Patrick Mahomes, but it’s what the Browns need at the right time. It says a lot about the quarterback’s development when he throws 13 fewer interceptions in his third season than in his second.
Older Patriots fans remember Brady playing like this in the early 2000s. From 2001 to 2003, Brady completed 61.9 percent of his 10,227 yards, 69 touchdowns and 38 interceptions. Until 2007, he had never scored 30 touchdowns in a season. At the time, he scored 50 points, an NFL record, on a Patriots team that went 18-1.
At this point in his career, Mayfield has already learned that his potential path to success doesn’t necessarily involve 450-yard games or 35+ pass attempts. Brady took the same approach early in his career and won three Super Bowls at the age of 28.
From 2001-2006, Brady completed 61.9 percent of his passes for an annual average of 3,593 yards, 25 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. Mayfield completed 62.8 percent of his passes for 3,563 yards, 26 touchdowns and eight interceptions in 2020.
The fact that Brady’s stats seem so dull or average is perhaps a big surprise. Remember, this is a guy who averaged 4,117 yards, 31 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in a 2007-20 season, and he’s still in good shape and almost 44 years old.
What changed? For example, the Patriots gave Brady their best weapon. There’s a big difference between the duo of Deion Branch and Troy Brown and the pitch of Randy Moss and Wes Welker.
Rob Gronkowski came up in 2010 and immediately became an intimidating offensive player, both defensively and in the red zone. Brady developed naturally as a quarterback and took more risks, and the Patriots needed that. Since 2013, only one running back has reached the 1,000-yard mark in a season, suggesting that the quarterback should throw as much as possible.
Mayfield doesn’t have any Super Bowl rings, but he’s still in a much better situation than he or the Browns could have imagined when he arrived in 2018.
The Browns are back after nearly reaching the AFC Championship game last season. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt are a formidable duo in the backline, and Mayfield isn’t selfish enough to abandon them for numbers and fame.
If Mayfield continues to match Brady, it’s not unrealistic to consider the Browns a contender for the Super Bowl. It’s certainly not the kind of sentence you imagine yourself reading in your life.
If the Browns make it to Super Bowl 56, they could face Brady and the Buccaneers. It would be an incredible story if Mayfield led the Browns to a Super Bowl title and used Brady’s tricks against him on the world’s biggest stage.
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COMPARED TO: Browns appear to be on the verge of making a move that could reverse Baker Mayfield’s progress at the most inopportune time
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