PHOTO CREDIT: : David Richard, AP
If Thursday night’s Battle of Ohio was any indication of what’s to come in the future, sign me all the way up.
The former had a lot of doubt placed on him after a disastrous 2019 campaign and a nightmarish start against the Ravens in Week 1. Mayfield finished Thursday’s game 16-23 for 219 yards, a pair of touchdown passes and an interception. The highlight touchdown pass was a 43-yard bomb to Odell Beckham Jr., who lunged out and slid across the goal line. Beckham finished with 4 catches for 74 yards and the touchdown.
The latter was the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and he looked like a veteran in just his second start. Burrow finished 37-61 for 316 yards and three touchdowns. He set the rookie record for pass completions and attempts and is the only rookie ever to throw over 60 passes without an interception.
Burrow looked like he was an NFL veteran in just his second start. The national media praised Burrow, and rightfully so, and talked about how impressive this was for a rookie quarterback with no real offseason. And they were absolutely right. However, there was a double-standard when discussing Mayfield.
Week 1 was a complete train wreck for Mayfield and the Browns. Baltimore punched Cleveland in the mouth repeatedly and easily took care of business. Cue the criticism of Mayfield, which was fair to the extent as he played pretty poorly, but on the other hand, he was in a similar, yet different situation than Burrow.
Mayfield is in his third NFL season. In that time span, he has had four different head coaches and four different offensive coordinators. And just like everybody else, the offseason was short, which took away reps from yet another new head coach and regime. Sure, he is in his third year, but how many players do you know that had that many different coaching changes in that time frame?
The Browns offense came alive against the divisional rival. Fro as good as Mayfield was, the offense was led by the dynamic running duo of Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Chubb, who finished second in rushing a season ago, ran for 124 yards and two scores on 22 carries. Hunt rushed 10 times for 86 yards and a touchdown. He also caught a touchdown pass. On the Browns final scoring drive, the duo did all the work, rushing a combined 75-yards in six plays, with Hunt capping off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run.
This is what the Browns had hoped that offense would have looked like last season. Baker was put in a position to get comfortable and in rhythm thanks to the play-action. This offense can be one of the top-rated if they can play in sync like they did Thursday.
Back to Mr. Burrow. The fact that he put up the numbers he did is amazing when you think about how often his offensive line was letting the pressure get through. One of those times was a strip-sack by Myles Garrett that led to a touchdown. Outside of that, Burrow was sensational. The Bengals likely won’t win more than five games this season, but they will be highly competitive and fun to watch. If the Bengals do pick towards the top of the draft, they can use the pick on an offensive lineman to help keep their star quarterback upright.
Thursday night gave us a glimpse of what the future holds as long as both teams continue to make upward strides. Mayfield and the Browns offense looked good and have a chance to build on the momentum this weekend when they host the Washington Football Team. Burrow showed he is as good as advertised. Bengals fans should be excited about what they witnessed last Thursday as there is more of that to come.
We could very well be at the start of a new chapter in this rivalry where there is a chance for these types of games twice a year. Buckle up, it’s going to be a fun ride.
Hit me up on Twitter @KingEdward15 to let me know what you think the future holds for these two teams and other NFL discussions.
Be kind. Be safe. WEAR A MASK. ARREST THE COPS THAT KILLED BREONNA TAYLOR!