The Cleveland Browns won't be making the playoffs in 2018, but rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield has shown plenty of flashes in his first season, and the future is looking bright for the long-struggling organization.
Mayfield led the Browns to a 26-20 win over the Carolina Panthers at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday. However, the 23-year-old signal caller was disappointed with how many empty seats there were in Cleveland's second-last home game of the season.
"We would love to have more fan support," Mayfield said, via Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. "Today was cold, I get it, but having more people, especially at our last home game coming up, we would love to have more people in the stands cheering for us because we feed off of the energy."
Per Cabot, the paid attendance for Sunday's game was 59,392. She noted that "there were thousands of empty seats," in the upper bowl. You can see a video of it from a fan who captured the view below.
@BullandFox 4:04 pm Sunday #BrownsPanthers Agree w/ @bakermayfield too many empty seats in upper deck. Also, why would the @browns play the @bills song?#brownsmakemewanttoshout pic.twitter.com/QUK6cegNPH— Ryan (@headrs) December 10, 2018
Per ESPN.com, the Browns are averaging 65,527 fans per game, which is tied with the Buffalo Bills for 19th-most in the NFL. Sunday's paid attendance in Cleveland was way below the team's average for the season, so Mayfield has the right to be disappointed with the thousands of empty seats.
The Browns sit at 5-7-1 on the season, and they've already surpassed their win totals from the 2015, 16 and '17 campaigns. With Mayfield, pass rusher Myles Garrett and cornerback Denzel Ward leading the way, Cleveland has assembled an extremely talented young core - and they look poised to win for years to come.
What This Means
Browns fans have suffered more than any other North American franchise. Their last playoff berth was in 2002, and the Browns haven't won a playoff game since 1994. Their last NFL Championship victory was in 1964, and the franchise has never played in a Super Bowl.
But finally, the franchise has so many great pieces in place. They have the chance to be something special, and that's still not enough to sell out games. Mayfield has every right to be critical of the attendance, especially with the franchise finally looking up.