Cleveland Browns: Why Baker Mayfield had a sophomore slump
Quarterback Coach Ken Zampese
Ken Zampese does not make a lot of noise, but he is a very smart football man who is also an experienced offensive coordinator. Logically, he should have been the offensive coordinator to replace Todd Haley when Haley was fired alongside Hue Jackson.
Zampese entered the NFL as part of the St. Louis Rams “Greatest Show on Turf” in 2000 with Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce et al. That is not a bad way to start a career as a quarterback coach. Zampese was the Bengals quarterbacks coach in 2003 when they drafted Carson Palmer. He eventually replaced Jackson as offensive coordinator after Jackson took the head coaching gig in Cleveland in 2016.
Zampese was fired by the Bengals after Cincinnati went 0-2 in 2017, getting shut down by the Ravens and the Texans, both of whom proved to be very good defensive teams. The Bengals had other problems besides Zampese, but nevertheless that is how he ended up working for Jackson. Probably the reason Kitchens replaced Haley rather than Zampese is that Zampese was a Jackson guy and Kitchens was not.
Nevertheless Zampese has some respect around the league and might have been the guy that helped Mayfield the most, rather than Kitchens. Zampese gets this writer’s vote as the most underrated coach of the 2018 staff, and his loss may have affected Mayfield as much as anyone.
Another Jackson guy, Bob Wylie, credited Zampese rather than Kitchens with the 2018 offensive explosion. Wylie may have had something to do with it as well.