Freddie Kitchens says Baker Mayfield is no red zone rookie

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images)
HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 02: Baker Mayfield #6 of the Cleveland Browns throws a pass in the fourth quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium on December 2, 2018 in Houston, Texas. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Browns have been close to perfect in the red zone under Freddie Kitchens, but the offensive coordinator credits Baker Mayfield for that.

When Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens explains quarterbacking, it’s crystal clear that he’s been there, audibled that. And he’s as simple with his football explanations as Neal deGrasse Tyson is with his astrophysics.

For example, in his latest presser, Kitchens is asked what specific things he’s coaching Baker Mayfield to look for or do that’s helped him develop over the season.

Kitchens breaks it down simple:

"“The quarterback has to know why a guy is going to be open.”"

Boom. Mind blown.

Notice he didn’t say a quarterback should know ‘that’ a guy is going to be open, he said ‘why’. That’s as deep as a Breshad Perriman reception, buddy boy.

He explains that a receiver will be open because of something in particular that the defender does. It’s the coach’s job to teach the quarterback what that something is. It’s the quarterback’s job to be able to have his eyes in the right area of the field to make sure he can spot that something when it happens. And it’s the receiver’s job to get open when that something comes up.

See, that I can wrap my civilian head around. I’ll bet it’s those ‘somethings’ that Mayfield spends all his free time studying.

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I’ll bet it’s those ‘somethings’ that Mayfield and his receivers are looking for on those sideline tablets during the game.

I’ll bet there’s a million ‘somethings’ and Mayfield and his receivers have to be in sync with them all.

And that’s why they make the big bucks, to take advantage of as many ‘somethings’ as they can for four quarters until a win is inevitable.

Kitchens goes on to explain that with some guys, like Mayfield, a sense of urgency tends to help them execute better.

Like in the red zone in Week 15 against the Broncos, when, one reporter notes, Mayfield changed the play and ended up throwing a two-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Callaway.

The reporter asks Kitchens if changing a call like that was an exceptional move for a rookie. Kitchens said this about the Browns’ franchise quarterback:

"“I think everybody around him views Baker as a rookie, but from the standpoint of the pictures he’s taking with his eyes on an every play basis, he’s not a rookie.”"

In other words, Mayfield’s seeing the field, the somethings, clearly. Not as a beginner, but as a player who knows the difference between what he’s looking for and what he’s actually seeing.

Like in the case of the red zone play change, Kitchens said Mayfield saw something and knew the play that was called wouldn’t work. Then, unlike a rookie, he called the audible and went to “one of our favorite red zone plays against them.”

Callaway quick slant in the end zone. Boom. Six points.

Now that’s something I can wrap my Browns fan head around.

Kitchens says it’s expecting and getting this type of execution from the players that’s led to the Browns red zone dominance since he and interim head coach Gregg Williams took over.

Mayfield’s red zone completion percentage is now 65.9 percent and ranked fourth among active quarterbacks.

The rookie is obviously developing under Kitchens’ guidance, but don’t expect that success to get him thinking about keeping his job for next year. Or about taking the Browns head coaching job, either.

One of the many best things about Kitchens is his Belichick-ovian way of staying focused on the moment and nothing else.

Kitchens told reporters:

"“I don’t advertise for jobs. I don’t have to, I won’t ever … I really truly don’t put any thought into beyond this week.”"

Next. Baker Mayfield gets his wish for home finale. dark

But when another reporter asks if it’s always been his goal to be a head coach, Kitchens doesn’t hesitate for a second.

"“Definitely. No doubt.”"

Now that’s a huge something for John Dorsey to wrap his head around.