Baker Mayfield set to become 1st Browns QB in 18 years to start all 16 games, vows to be improved for the next 16

Baker Mayfield will become the first Browns quarterback to start all 16 games in a season since Tim Couch in 2001 when he takes his first snap against the Bengals on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.

It's a notable achievement for Mayfield, who will be the first to admit that he hasn't met the expectations he set out for himself at the beginning of the season.

With one game to play, Mayfield has thrown 19 touchdowns and 18 interceptions and needs 177 yards to eclipse 3,725 passing yards, his total from last season when he played in 14 games as a rookie.

Mayfield, however, has finally brought continuity at the quarterback position. The season didn't have the expected results — the Browns were officially eliminated from playoff contention Sunday — but Mayfield's 16 starts should be looked at as a win in the big picture.

"I'm never one to shy away from competition," Mayfield said. "I play this game because I love it. I truly do enjoy the process. Getting there to compete on Sunday is the fun part about it. Any chance I go out there and compete, I'm going to do it."

Check out photos of the Browns preparing for their game against the Bengals Sunday by team photographer Matt Starkey

Mayfield has expressed a desire to be a leading figure in the Browns' turnaround since he was selected with the first overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft. With playoff expectations out the window, this season will be viewed as a disappointment regardless of how the Browns finish Sunday against the Bengals.

With Mayfield, however, the Browns have a durable, 16-game starter eager to make his offseason busy.

That's someone the franchise hasn't had in quite some time.

"There is a lot of room for progress, and I think that is the best thing about it," Mayfield said. "Looking at what we expected to what we actually have, we are very close. But that just means we got to work at it, get together in the offseason, handle things this week and then get better."

Mayfield is set to start for a full season despite undergoing his fair share of bumps and bruises. The most notable one, perhaps, came in Week 13 against Pittsburgh when Mayfield injured his throwing hand against the helmet of a Steelers defender after completing a passing attempt.

The quarterback finished the game but walked into the locker room wearing a thick layer of protective wrap on his right hand.

There was never much doubt that Mayfield would start the following week when the Browns defeated the Bengals 27-19. His stat line wasn't great — 11-for-24 for 192 yards and two interceptions — but it doesn't do justice for key completions that moved the Browns into the red zone.

Mayfield has withstood all the heavy shots that come from being an NFL quarterback. He credited his slight weight gain to his ability to absorb hits and get back on his feet immediately after.

"I think I have done a good job throughout the season diet-wise," Mayfield said. "I hired a chef and have done the right things to make sure it's good weight. I don't think necessarily just putting on mass is the best thing for me. I still got to be able to move around a little bit, protecting myself. It is definitely one of those things I wanted to do, so it has helped."

Mayfield knows that his technique and production must improve, too.

That's why starting 16 games is so crucial. Mayfield will have plenty of film to review in the offseason, which he plans to spend honing in on small improvements that will help the Browns make the most of their offensive weapons set to return in 2020.

"It comes down to all the little things," Mayfield said. "There is a lot of room for improvement for me, just being critical of myself and how I have always been. I need to take that next step."

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