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NFL Draft

Should We Worry About Odell Beckham & Baker Mayfield’s Chemistry?

  • The Draft Network
  • October 4, 2021
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The Cleveland Browns weren’t in their finest form on Sunday but overcame their deficiencies to escape Minnesota with a 14-7 victory. The Browns continue to lean on their two-headed rushing attack on offense. Superstar running back Nick Chubb reached 100 yards on just 21 carries (4.8 yards per carry) and Kareem Hunt totaled an impressive 86 yards and a touchdown on just 16 touches. Baker Mayfield struggled throwing the football, completing just 15-of-33 passes (45% completion percentage) for a measly 155 yards while being held scoreless.

Cleveland's passing game struggles have shined an unfortunate light on the lack of impact made by Odell Beckham Jr., who returned to action just one week ago from a season-ending ACL injury suffered in Week 7 of 2020. In two games played this season, Beckham has totaled 104 receiving yards on seven catches while failing to find the end zone. Beckham has been targeted a hefty 16 times, but Mayfield underwhelmed on Sunday, hitting Beckham with just 2-of-7 targets while misfiring in his direction for a number of would-be big plays.

Beckham's pedestrian stat lines through two weeks may lead to some chemistry questions and/or concerns regarding his pairing with Mayfield, but making any harsh judgments based on two weeks of play would be a grave error. We have seen several elite players who have recovered from last year's season-ending injuries struggle to find their form throughout the early portion of the 2021 campaign. In Tennessee, both Taylor Lewan and Bud Dupree have yet to play to their potential as they battle their way back from torn ACLs. In Baltimore, stud left tackle Ronnie Stanley, who suffered a serious ankle injury in 2020, struggled mightily in Baltimore's Week 1 loss before going down with another long-term injury. Saquon Barkley, despite being the focal point of the New York Giants offense, just topped 100 yards for the first time this season in Week 4. All of these players are excellent and will be back to their best selves before we know it—Beckham included.

Overreacting to two less-than-desired outputs from a player of Beckham's status would be a fool's errand. As we’re seeing all around the league, it's par for the course. To his credit, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski sees the logic in this argument and is remaining level-headed.

“When you throw the ball deep, you’re not going to hit all of those,’' Stefanski told the wonderful Mary Kay Cabot

As Beckham continues to recover and get healthier as the weeks go by, look for him to make a massive positive impact on the Browns’ extremely promising 2021 season.

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