CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield finished second to New York Giants running back Saquon Barkley in the voting for the 2019 Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year Award that was announced at NFL Honors on Saturday, the night before Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
Mayfield earned 21.5 votes, while Barkley won it with 26.5.
Although there continues to be plenty of debate, especially in Cleveland, as to whether or not the votes got right their decision, there are several reasons why Mayfield not winning the award is a good thing for the Browns.
Likes being counted out
Mayfield is not one to mince words, especially when opinions are expressed about him and his style of play, but seemingly, when the questions grow louder, his resolve gets stronger and positive results have been known to follow.
Not highly thought of by major colleges out of high school, Mayfield walked on at Texas Tech University, and when a situation presented itself, he transferred to the University of Oklahoma.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Mayfield put together a Heisman Trophy-winning campaign in 2017 where he completed 285 of his 404 throws (70.5 percent) for 4,627 yards and 43 touchdowns against six interceptions to cap off his collegiate career.
During his three years at Oklahoma and one season with the Texas Tech Red Raiders, Mayfield completed 1,026 of his 1,497 attempts (68.5 percent) for 14,607 yards and 131 touchdowns against only 30 interceptions.
Motivated to prove others wrong
When Mayfield was selected by the Browns with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, many national pundits questioned the move, especially given the quarterback’s shorter stature when compared to other rookie signal-callers like Josh Allen (Buffalo Bills), Sam Darnold (New York Jets) and Josh Rosen (Arizona Cardinals).
And all Mayfield did was set a new NFL rookie record despite starting only 13 games.
Mayfield threw more touchdown passes than any other rookie in the 99-year history of the NFL.
Mayfield broke the NFL record 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.
After taking over the first-team offense in the second quarter of a Week 3 win over the Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium, Mayfield completed 310 of his 486 attempts (63.8 percent) for 3,725 yards and 27 touchdowns against 14 interceptions.
Mayfield set franchise records for the most passing touchdowns and yards by a rookie, and his 3,725 yards rank as the sixth-best single-season in team history, regardless of years of service. Additionally, Mayfield had three of the top five passing yards games by a rookie, as well as the fourth-most accurate season of any Browns quarterback ever.
Helped turn 0-16 franchise into contender
When Freddie Kitchens was named head coach on January 12, he stated, loudly and clearly, that everything the Browns will do under his direction would be to not only get to, but also, win the Super Bowl, and Mayfield doubled-down on those goals during appearances on Radio Row in the lead up this year’s big game by saying the players want to be playing in next year’s championship.
Although Mayfield does not get official credit for the victory over the Jets because he came on in relief of an injured Tyrod Taylor, the first-year quarterback guided the Browns to seven wins and the greatest single-year turnaround in franchise history, all the more impressive considering he spent training camp and the preseason working with the second-team offense.
Under Kitchens’ direction, Mayfield completed 180 of his 263 attempts (68.4 percent) for 2,254 yards and 19 touchdowns against eight interceptions. Mayfield averaged 281.75 yards and 2.375 touchdowns per game with Kitchens calling the plays.