Cleveland Browns: 3 Reasons Baker Mayfield could struggle in 2020

Cleveland Browns (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Cleveland Browns (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /
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Cleveland Browns
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3. The transition to yet another offense

It’s hard to deny that the offense Kevin Stefanski runs is quarterback friendly. He took over for John DeFilippo who was fired late in the 2018 season as the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator. Kirk Cousins showed instant improvement and then in 2019 with Stefanski returning to the role, he had the most efficient season of his career.

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Looking at the way Cousins succeeded makes it easy to assume Baker Mayfield will also thrive in Stefanski’s offense. And that could very well be the case.

However, it might not be as easy of a transition.

With Cousins, Stefanski was moving from his quarterback coach to coordinator. That wasn’t a massive leap as the terminology and all remained the same. The only real change was the play-caller as Stefanski made the game easier for Cousins by relying on the run to set up the play-action pass.

For Mayfield, it’s not going to be a familiar offense — and sadly for his young career, this is becoming the norm. The first overall pick in 2018 entered the league with Todd Haley as the offensive coordinator under head coach Hue Jackson. Once Jackson was fired, Haley was out as well, meaning the offense changed to something run by Freddie Kitchens and Ken Zampese.

Another head coaching change happened as Gregg Williams, the interim following Jackson’s dismissal, was out and Kitchens was retained. A huge reason for that was the success Kitchens and Mayfield had while working together. The problem is, the offense seemed to change again with Kitchens running the show without Zampese — and Mayfield subsequently struggled.

Fast forward to 2020 and we now have the fourth head coach Mayfield will work under in Stefanski. It will also be his fourth offensive coordinator as Alex Van Pelt replaces Todd Monken. So far in his career, the only constant has been change and while that doesn’t mean Baker can’t find success, it also means there’s no reason to just assume he can adapt to another overhaul.