The Cleveland Browns‘ playoff hopes are hanging by a thread, and some are already viewing their 24-22 loss to the Green Bay Packers on Christmas as the final nail in the coffin. Though Cleveland scored 10 unanswered points in the second half to make the final score close, the Browns turned the ball over four times — all four coming off the arm of quarterback Baker Mayfield.
Mayfield’s four interceptions marked a career-high, and three came in the first half. It’s not exactly what you want to see from your former No. 1 overall pick on a national stage, and it’s certainly not something Mayfield wanted to happen as he’s in a contract year. Despite a terrible performance, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski is confident his quarterback will bounce back, and believes he will be better for the struggles.
“Baker told you guys, I’m sure the other night, he didn’t play up to his standard. And we expect him to play at a high level,” Stefanski said, via Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot, (H/T NFL.com). “I think confidence-wise, with the quarterback position, you get too much credit, you get too much blame. And that’s just how it is. And he’ll bounce back and I think he’ll be better for it.”
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In 13 games played this season, Mayfield has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 2,825 yards, 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. It’s been arguably the toughest campaign of his young career, as he’s dealing with several nagging injuries as well as off-field noise and the drama that came along with Odell Beckham Jr.’s exit. Mayfield is attempting to weather all of this while chasing an extension that should be coming down the line. How that contract will compare to the one he could have signed this past offseason, we’ll never know.
The 7-8 Browns currently are 12th in the AFC behind the 7-7-1 Pittsburgh Steelers and then four 8-7 teams — including the rival Baltimore Ravens. The Browns play the Steelers this Sunday in Pittsburgh and then host the Cincinnati Bengals to end the regular season. Mayfield and Co. will need to win both games and then get some help from other teams if they want to return to the playoffs.