When the Cleveland Browns traded for New York Giants superstar wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., people were excited about what this could mean for their offense. Beckham Jr. was one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and his acquisition was expected to help Baker Mayfield take his game to the next level. Unfortunately, things have not panned out as hoped.
Beckham Jr. suffered an ACL injury in Week 7 against the Cincinnati Bengals. He is expected to be ready when the season begins, and some believe he can return to Pro Bowl form. But, a big bounceback season is unlikely.
For starters, the Browns are a run-first offense. They want to run the ball down their opponent’s throat with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. Fewer passes mean fewer opportunities to put up states.
The Browns also have a deep stable of skill position players. Jarvis Landry, Donovan Peoples-Jones and Rashad Higgins all stepped up in Beckham’s absence last season and deserve targets this season.
They have a three-headed monster at tight end in Austin Hooper, David Njoku and Harrison Bryant that will all be used as the Browns will use a lot of two-tight end sets to get their running game going. Hunt is also an excellent receiving back that will have plays schemed to get the ball into his hands.
With so many mouths to feed, the Browns are unlikely to funnel a lion’s share of the targets toward Beckahm Jr. as Eli Manning and the Giants did. There is also the fact that Mayfield played the best football of his career with Bekcham Jr. sidelined.
Mayfield threw for a career-high five touchdowns in the game Beckham Jr. exited. In the 12 games without him, which include the postseason and Bengals games, Mayfield threw for 2,935 yards, 20 touchdowns and only three interceptions. He completed 63.6 percent of his passes, as well.
Having a dominant No. 1 receiver is sometimes helpful, but that doesn’t seem to be the case for Mayfield. His play elevated without Beckham Jr. in the lineup and his return should not cause a change in the game plan.
As the old saying goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The Browns found a formula that worked without Beckham Jr. and should continue using that formula.
Getting him back in the lineup will bring an added dimension to the team, but gone are the days of Odell Beckham Jr. compiling gaudy stats. If that means more wins for the Browns, it is a trade-off he would certainly sign up for.