CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Browns did not have a winning record during the 2018 season and did not qualify for the postseason, but there is plenty of optimism surrounding the team just over one year removed from their winless year in 2017.
Although the Browns were 7-8-1, they are considered a team on the rise that could not only finish with a winning record, but also, get to the postseason and make some noise.
The Browns were anything but a finished product when new coach Freddie Kitchens took over the play-calling duties on Monday, October 29, hours after former coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were dismissed to clean up “internal discord.”
At 2-5-1 following a 33-18 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 28 and in the middle of the unprecedented midseason coaching upheaval with eight games left to play, the 2018 Browns did not look like a team capable of the greatest year-to-year turnaround in franchise history.
But a 5-3 record over the second half of the season and a three-game winning streak in December secured the Browns’ greatest turnaround in team history, as they finished plus-7.5 in wins over the winless 2017 campaign.
Although the Browns made the greatest year-to-year improvement in franchise history, that is far from the ultimate goal for the organization.
Mayfield threw more touchdowns passes than any other rookie in the 99-year history of the NFL.
Mayfield broke the NFL record co-held by future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning and multi-time Seattle Seahawks Pro Bowl signal-caller Russell Wilson with his 27th touchdown throw of the season with 3:24 to play in regulation of a 26-24 loss to the Baltimore Ravens in an AFC North Division clash at M&T Bank Stadium in Baltimore on December 30.
Mayfield completed 310 of his 486 attempts (63.8 percent) for 3,725 yards and the 27 touchdowns against 14 interceptions after taking over the first-team offense in the second quarter of a Week 3 win over the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium.
For his efforts, Mayfield was named the Professional Athlete of the Year at the 19th Greater Cleveland Sports Awards, and while humbled by the honor, the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner is focused on building on the momentum going into 2019.