Connor McIntyre | June 8th, 2019
Dear Baker Mayfield,
When you got drafted first overall in 2018, I was one of the happiest people ever. Though I’m not a big Cleveland Browns fan, I always like to see teams that are failing get turned around. I knew you would be a good pick, but you were legendary. You broke multiple rookie records and nearly got the Browns into the playoffs for the first time in 17 years.
And this year you have even more greatness around you. Now that you have Odell Beckham Jr. and a good group returning, only good things can happen, right?
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I know your still young and if you don’t make the playoffs in your second year, it’s understandable. Also, this will be your first full season, so struggles may be something that you will need to deal with. There’s also the “sophomore slump”. Though some players have been able to avoid it, there are still some great players that suffered tremendous “sophomore slumps”. One example of this is Matt Ryan’s slump back in 2009. In his rookie season, he completed 265 of his 434 pass attempts for 3,440 yards, 16 touchdowns, and a 61.1 completion percentage as well as 11 interceptions. He made the Pro Bowl and everything looked like it would be perfect for him. In his sophomore year, however, he completed only 263 of his 451 pass attempts, threw for 500 yards less than his rookie season (2,916 yards), and threw 22 touchdowns vs. 14 interceptions. He only had a 58.3 completion percentage and the Atlanta Falcons missed the playoffs.
Like I said previously though, there have been players who can get past the “sophomore slump”. In 1983 Denver Broncos legend John Elway had a below average season with 123 completions in 259 attempts, seven touchdowns vs. 14 interceptions, 1,663 yards, and a 47.5 completion percentage while playing in 11 games and starting in 10. The next year he took that next step, though, and started 14 games and played in 15. He completed 214 out of 380 pass attempts for 2,598 yards and threw 18 touchdowns vs. 15 interceptions. His completion percentage had a major improvement, going from 47.5 percent to 56.3 percent of his passes being completed.
You’re a talented, young quarterback and you still have some learning to do. You are further ahead of most quarterbacks your age and you have the talent to get the Browns into the playoffs for the first time in over a decade. If you can avoid a slump and all the pressure getting to your head, you can have a great season. There are great things ahead for you, and there’s no doubt about that. But I’m not going to be one to come right out and say you’ll definitely make the playoffs this year (though I wouldn’t be surprised if you did). You’re a young quarterback and a lot of people are expecting you to make the playoffs in only your second year. All I’m hoping for this year is an improvement, and if improvements are made, you could end up being a star in the NFL for years to come. As long as you don’t rush yourself and let the pressure get to your head, you will do great, not only this season but throughout your career as well.
Check out Connor’s other Last Day Letters: Dave Gettleman
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