Ken Zampese was Baker Mayfield’s QB coach in 2018 and now he’s coaching Dwayne Haskins.
Baker Mayfield will be reunited with his mentor on the 2018 Cleveland Browns coaching staff, quarterback coach Ken Zampese, who now has the same job with Washington. In that memorable 2018 season, as soon as they fired head coach Hue Jackson, Mayfield’s performance took off. Maybe it was a coincidence (Jackson’s theory), but maybe it had to do with Gregg Williams as the head coach, Freddie Kitchens as the offensive coordinator, or Zampese as the quarterback coach.
Make no mistake, Mayfield was a bad quarterback getting worse under Hue Jackson but it turned around for him the second half of the season, and the Dawg Pound got tremendously excited. Baker Mayfield’s passer rating was 78.9 under Hue Jackson 106.2 under Williams/Kitchens/Zampese. At the time, most of us credited Freddie Kitchens rather than Gregg Williams and Kenny Zampese, but in retrospect, we need to look at the offensive talent of Williams (who was a college quarterback, after all), as well as Zampese, who was an offensive coordinator for the Bengals.
These days, not many analysts subscribe to the Kitchens theory anymore based on the team’s lackluster performance in 2019. Offensive line coach Bob Wylie, who was tremendous in getting his charges to improve in the 2018 season, gives great credit to Zampese. That’s probably as reasonable a theory as any.
Now, Zampese is the Washington quarterbacks coach working with Dwayne Haskins, an awesomely talented kid who lacks game experience. Can he help Haskins the same way he helped Mayfield?
Haskins doesn’t have great talent around him as team owner Dan Snyder is trying to recover from various salary cap disasters, not the least of which was the unfortunate injury to Alex Smith just after signing a major contract. Hence they have not invested in the depth around Haskins, though they do have some great talent on the defensive line and linebacker. If Zampese can get a big year from Haskins, we are really going to have to list him among those “great young offensive minds” when those discussions come up. At the moment, nobody seems to know about him.
Keep in mind that Zampese knows Mayfield’s tendencies as well as anyone. It may be possible that he can work with head coach Ron Riviera and his defensive staff to come up with a defensive scheme that might frustrate him.
Haskins might turn out to be a very good quarterback with Zampese’s mentorship. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should run out and bet the house on Washington to pull off an upset. Keep in mind the Browns have their own connection to the Washington team. Offensive line coach Bill Callahan was the interim head coach for the team last season, and he knows their personnel as well as anyone.
You can be sure that he is involved trying to exploit a few subtle tendencies of a few of his former players. If so, the Browns may win some battles at the line of scrimmage.