Browns' Andrew Berry Expects Baker Mayfield's 'Best Football' After Bye Week

Tim Daniels@@TimDanielsBRFeatured Columnist IVDecember 1, 2021

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND - NOVEMBER 28: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns warms during a game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on November 28, 2021 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Cleveland Browns general manager Andrew Berry said Wednesday that he expects quarterback Baker Mayfield to play his "best football" after the team returns from its Week 13 bye.

Berry also downplayed any consideration of a quarterback change for the stretch run of the regular season with the Browns currently 11th in the AFC standings with a 6-6 record. Case Keenum is the team's backup QB.

"Baker's our quarterback," Berry told reporters. "He's healthy enough to win games for us. If he's ready to go, he's going to be our starter."

Mayfield has played through numerous injuries throughout the 2021 season, including shoulder, foot, knee and groin ailments. He's only missed one game, a Week 7 win over the Denver Broncos, but he's looked far less than 100 percent in recent weeks.

The 2018 first overall pick completed just 50.6 percent of his throws (44-of-87) for 496 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in the team's last three games before the bye week. It's a stretch that included road losses to the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens along with a three-point home win over the winless Detroit Lions.

After Sunday's loss to the Ravens, Mayfield said he hadn't suffered any "major setbacks" with his various injuries and would use the week off to get closer to full strength.

"Just with all the rehab and everything I've been doing and just having to take the extra time to try and take care of my body," he told reporters. "Obviously, this bye week comes at a pretty crucial time for me to make that turning point to get back to 100 percent."

Mayfield, who's tossed 11 touchdowns and six picks in 11 appearances, ranks 26th in ESPN's Total QBR (37.9) this season after finishing 10th in that stat (65.5) last year.

Meanwhile, Berry also pushed aside questions about the quarterback's future with the team. Cleveland already exercised the fifth-year option in his rookie contract for 2022, but the focus will soon shift to whether he'll receive a lucrative multiyear extension.

"There will be plenty of time to think about how we're going to build the roster next year," Berry said. "Right now, we're focused on doing everything in our power to maximize this current season."

Keenum, a 33-year-old journeyman, isn't a viable long-term alternative, but he could be a short-term stopgap option if Mayfield continues to struggle after the bye.

The former Minnesota Vikings and Denver Broncos starter has compiled 76 touchdowns and 47 interceptions in 74 career games (63 starts). He's completed 62.5 percent of his attempts (30-of-48) with one TD and no picks in five appearances (one start) for the Browns in 2021.

Cleveland could make up a lot of ground quickly in the tight AFC standings—just 2.5 games separate the top-seeded Ravens from the 11th-seeded Browns—but they must start winning consistently.

A difficult schedule awaits, however, as Mayfield and Co. finish with one game against each of their AFC North rivals (Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals) along with matchups against the Las Vegas Raiders and Green Bay Packers.

Next up is the rematch with Baltimore on Dec. 12 at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.