Which Baker Mayfield Was Better, 2020 Or 2023?

May 5th, 2024

This has been a subject of great debate at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters with Ira Kaufman and Joe, and Joe is pleased to share key data and reality that make this a hell of an argument.

In 2020, NFL fans watched Baker Mayfield have a fantastic 11-win regular season with the Browns that saw him finish a couple plays shy of reaching the AFC Championship game (sound familiar?), and he delivered impressive postseason numbers that included 4 touchdown passes and just 1 interception.

Here are Mayfield’s 2020 stats in Cleveland:

222.7 yards per game 
7.3 yards per attempt
62.8 percent completion rate
1 pick every 60.7 throws
1.6 TD passes per game
1.6 sacks per game
Browns ranked 28th in pass attempts per game

Mayfield was nearly identical in 2023, including another great postseason with 6 touchdowns and 2 picks.

237.9 yards per game 
7.1 yards per attempt
64.3 percent completion rate
1 pick every 56.6 throws
1.6 TD passes per game
2.36 sacks per game
Bucs ranked 19th in pass attempts per game

So was Mayfield better in Tampa? Joe could make that argument quickly based on Mayfield having an excellent running game to lean on in Cleveland versus the Bucs’ worst-ranked attack last year (yards per carry). However, it becomes very fuzzy when you consider the Browns played in the best division in football back in 2020.

Their AFC North rivals in Pittsburgh finished 12-4, and the Ravens were 11-5, taking second-place from the Browns on a tiebreaker.

Last year, the Bucs’ division was dreadful.

Mayfield also faced better playoff teams in 2020 than he did in 2023.

So was Mayfield better last season or in 2020? Joe is just happy the answer isn’t clear. That means Mayfield’s Pro Bowl season last year was not out of his norm when he has a good season.

Many Browns fans actually would argue what Mayfield accomplished during his 2018 rookie season with a bad team was his greatest season.

In 2018, Mayfield threw 27 touchdowns in just 13 starts and his passing yards per game were by far the highest of his career at 266 per game. That’s only six yards shy of high-flying C.J. Stroud’s high-flying rookie season last year!

Yes, the Bucs have a talented and productive quarterback. Whether you think Mayfield deserves the “franchise” label or not, half his NFL seasons have been impressive and what he accomplished last year was well within his normal.

25 Responses to “Which Baker Mayfield Was Better, 2020 Or 2023?”

  1. ATLBuc Says:

    Joe, You left out a key stat. How many times he passed the ball and how many completions not just yards and passer ratings
    Joe thought the better comparison was where Mayfield’s team ranked in total pass attempts, so Joe didn’t really leave it out. Joe is not a passer ratings guy, but they also were nearly identical. –Joe

  2. Beeej Says:

    I expect those Browns teams had some sort of running attack

  3. Hodad Says:

    Let’s hope 2024 Baker is better than 2020, and 2023 Baker.

  4. catcard202 Says:

    Half his career is the norm??

    Joe’s comparing two years here, not grading a career. Down in Year 2, hurt in Year 4, caught in the mess of sad franchises in Year 5. Nobody is denying that. –Joe

    That means the other half is not-normal…Which to me = inconsistent at best.
    We can make all the excuses we want for the “non-norm” half of Baker’s NFL career…But it is what it is.

    2023 was a career saving performance & maybe a hopeful rebirth, but fact remains that 2021/2022 were beyond dreadful & the ONLY reason that the Bucs were even in the market for Baker last season was due to the cost factor…He was going to be CHEAP!

    I want Baker to be great in Tampa, but looking at his rollercoaster career does not give me any assurances that he’s overcome the peaks and valleys he’s shown all too often.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Hard to compare……different teams with different competition….

    It appears to me that those two years are quite comparable.

  6. PSL Bob Says:

    And just for the record, who cares? Let’s just hope that the weapons Mayfield has to play with this year will elevate his game beyond either 2020 or 2023 and get the Bucs far into the playoffs. Can’t wait to see how things unfold.

  7. Citrus County Says:

    Compare Baker Mayfield’s stats (and size) to those of Drew Brees.
    Hopefully Baker can get stabilized with a coaching staff and offense scheme. If that happens I still believe he will be the Bucs version of Drew Brees. It likely won’t happen with a defense oriented head coach and a revolving door of OC’s but one can always hope.

  8. bucnjim Says:

    slow down the pass rush and we’ll surprise a lot of teams this year. Looking forward to seeing the O-line as a finished product. Also let’s see if the defense can get off the field early in games and give the offense an extra possession or two. The D has been able to minimize TD’s, but have a tendency to let the opponents drive up and down the field.

  9. JimBobBuc Says:

    An apples and oranges comparison. Baker’s stats last year rank him in the 12-19th ranked QB’s. About what I felt during the season. I thought he did well considering a new scheme, 1st time play caller, and the worst running game in the league. Certainly he benefited from a weak division and two very good WR’s. The OL should be better this year and hopefully the RB room will be better too, so I think there is more upside than downside to his game this coming season – however the schedule is brutal outside the division.

  10. john Says:

    These people claiming baker has inconsistency forget that he has had a different offensive coordinator every year he has played.

    Another fun fact, Mayfield came from the Air Raid system and Cleveland refused to run that offenses until they dumped baker for dram queen Watson.

  11. Bojim Says:

    He’ll be just as good this year.

  12. stpetebucfan Says:

    “That means Mayfield’s Pro Bowl season last year was not out of his norm when he has a good season.”

    Joe FTW! Bingo!!! Baker was 2nd to Barkley in Rookie of the Year balloting. His 2nd and 3rd seasons were even better culminating in that 11-5 record!!!

    He got hurt in Cleveland doing what he did last year in Tampa…playing HURT!
    It blew up in Cleveland, luckily he escaped last season but he clearly should not have been in that Carolina game. IF Trask was all that wouldn’t they have sat Mayfield that game? No disrespect to Trask but the coaching staff has certainly dissed him.

    ONE thing, and it’s no small thing, that Baker did improve on first in LA and last year with the Bucs was his INT %. He cut it from 3% early in his career, the only genuine knock on him…cutting in half in LA to 1.6% and posting a decent 1.8% with the Bucs last season.

  13. Wayne perez Says:

    Love baker I think we got a steal with him

  14. BucsFan Says:

    Baker was under center with the 3rd best rushing attack in 2020 at Cleveland , so remember now that Bucs rushing attack was last in the league. So is it easier to throw when the D has to respect the run? You bet it is. 2023 was a much better year.

  15. heyjude Says:

    Baker will be even better this year! So glad we have him.

    Many Browns fans are still upset that they got rid of him and took Watson. Baker is the real deal and a good guy!

  16. Rod Munch Says:

    Whether you think Mayfield deserves the “franchise” label or not, half his NFL seasons have been impressive and what he accomplished last year was well within his normal.


    When Winston was in Tampa, in 4 of his 5 years, he had a higher QBR than Baker had last year in a ‘franchise’ year.

    In any case, ‘franchise’ wasn’t the word you were looking for, ‘middling’ was – thus the 18th in QBR finish, and 20th in scoring, and last in yards and scoring amongst QBs that started 17 games.

    He’s going to need to play better this year as the NFC South has improved and the Bucs aren’t going to win the division just by showing up.

  17. drdneast Says:

    When in a stable environment with a stable OC, Mayfield flourishes. When he isn’t the same can’t be said. But most QB’s are in the same boat. When OC’s won’t change their offenses to take advantage of what the QB does best because he is to stubborn, even good QB’s will under perform. When a high round draft QB pick fails, it is as much of the coaching staffs ineptitude as the QB’s. Of course there are exceptions, so no one mention Ryan Leaf or Mansell who Joe wanted the Bucs to pick.

  18. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    drdneast Says:
    May 5th, 2024 at 4:38 pm
    When in a stable environment with a stable OC, Mayfield flourishes.

    Mayfield has had a different OC every single year. Stable hasn’t been part of his coaching history at all. And yet, here he is ready to shake n bake.

  19. Capt.Tim Says:

    I think last year was the best Baker!
    Because he accomplished it in Pewter and red!

  20. MadMax Says:

    Baker sux…we all know that right? Baker haters?

    ….im just laughing

  21. Let ‘em bake Says:

    10-7. 32 tds. 8 picks. 4200 yards passing . 101 qbr to end season. So let it be written….

  22. JUAN Says:

    With a lousy career record of .465, 2020’s .687 was not just clearly better but a statistical anomaly.

  23. Marky Mark Says:

    My broker always says past performance does not guarantee future performance in either direction. QBs play longer these days and some are late bloomers such as the Titan guy and Stafford. We will see in 2024.

  24. Larrd Says:

    It’s like asking which Taylor Swift is better, “Shake It Off” or “Folklore.”

    There’s no answer. Both are perfect!

    Baker should do an Eras Tour!

  25. Canabuc Says:

    I don’t really care about comparing the past but I think it bodes well that we now have three good seasons in Baker’s career to build from.

    If we look back this past year the interior offensive line was dreadful and there was no real running game to speak of. This year he now has extra weapons in the passing and running game from the draft and we have definitely improved the offensive line with the drafting of Barton and even with some of our free agent signings. I think Baker much like Brady needs an interior offensive line.

    In Brady’s case it was a lack of mobility and given that he would step up into the pocket he needed it not to collapse in the middle. That’s why on New England and during his first two seasons here in Tampa he had such success because our interior offensive line and the Patriots were always quite good.

    In Baker’s case he is not very tall at quarterback being around 6 ft and when too much pressure comes up the middle it leads to batted down passes and it also leads to him losing some vision of the receivers which is why certain throws to the middle of the field were so difficult for him.

    I think Liam Coen is going to have a different approach both with an improved line but also in making sure that bakers throwing from a platform that is usually moving a little bit so that he has a better view of the field.