Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield had a March visit with Kevin Stefanski
Where is the brash talk about anything? Cockiness? Or all the other descriptions about Baker Mayfield since being draft in 2018 out of Oklahoma. Why isn’t Mayfield talking about David Njoku like he did Duke Johnson? Where is the Cleveland Browns quarterback’s so-called ‘me’ attitude?
Did last season humble the young quarterback? Did new head coach Kevin Stefanski say something in his March visit to set him on this path?
While we can ask all these questions, the answer is related to them all. Mayfield is heading into only his third NFL season and is still growing as an NFL quarterback, and his team has not given him the easiest path.
Everyone in Cleveland is familiar with this phrase, and it is no different for Mayfield. He started his career with the ‘look at me’ Hue Jackson till he was fired halfway through his rookie season. Then the ever-confident Gregg Williams was put in charge and seemed to encourage the brashness of his young rookie. It seemed to work for the final eight games as the offense, under the next man on the list, seemed to flourish, and the team went 5-3.
Why not leave things alone? If you have seen William’s head coaching resume, you know the answer. All of this was in his rookie season, and 2019 may have been worse.
Remember that “next man on the list” from just above? Well, that would be last year’s head coach Freddie Kitchens. The new offensive ‘genius’ that took the offense to top-five levels was handed the keys to the kingdom and readily burned it to the ground. Mayfield was more buddy than a football player to Kitchens, and the lack of leadership showed through.
Rumors of players lobbying to be traded, Mayfield blowing up on local reporter Tony Grossi, and much, much more to place. All of this disfunction led Jimmy Haslem to make more changes. John Dorsey and Freddie Kitchens out, Andrew Berry and Kevin Stefanski in. Could this be what was needed? Only time will tell that, but there are signs.
Stefanski meets with Baker Mayfield in Texas
New Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski revealed recently that back in February of this year, he flew down to visit the Browns franchise quarterback. While Baker had already shown some growth in an interview with Rex Ryan on January first, maybe this new guy in charge has had something to do with the new ‘quiet’ Baker Mayfield. Stefanski clearly wanted to lay out his plan for the young quarterback and get to know him heading in 2020.
The coach understands the importance of that relationship and also needs to set the expectations of being the face of the franchise. While Stefanski would never say it to the media, he likely had a talk with Mayfield about how to put the work in and how to handle things as a quarterback on his team.
Since then, Mayfield has been ridiculed over his physique in a picture, no response. All the shots the Browns have taken this offseason after last season, no response. The David Njoku saga, no response. The coach handed Mayfield work to do and well, he let Stefanski handle that response.
"“He is all ball. He understands his role. He understands what we want him to do in this offense. He’s doing it on the field. Just watching him get through the cadence and kind of line people up, very impressed with it. I know [General Manager] Andrew [Berry] mentioned the shape [Mayfield] came in, and it’s really impressive. He did a nice job, and that just doesn’t happen [without dedication]. There’s a lot of work that goes into that, and he clearly has done the work.” –Kevin Stefanski, via Mary Kay Caobt of Cleveland.com"
Will this ‘new’ Baker Mayfield be more like the rookie that set the rookie touchdown record, who knows? But there is clear growth this past season on how to focus the brash attitude on the field and be the professional off of it.
While most Cleveland fans will say he never did anything wrong, and they may be right, there is a way to handle yourself as a leader and Mayfield seems to be taking that next step. Now, can he take that next step and take this immensely talented roster to the next level?