Baker Mayfield: Should Browns fans be concerned about Kevin Stefanski after Thursday night?

Baker Mayfield, Rams. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images)
Baker Mayfield, Rams. (Photo by Kevin Sabitus/Getty Images) /

Baker Mayfield led a game-winning drive in his debut with the Los Angeles Rams and praise is flowing in for Sean McVay. Could that be a knock on Kevin Stefanski?

Thursday Night Football is often guilty of giving us boring games to sit through and that was the case in Week 14 as the Los Angeles Rams hosted the Las Vegas Raiders. At least it was until the final two minutes.

That’s when Baker Mayfield, who had been with the Rams for all of 48 hours, led an improbable 98-yard drive and hit Van Jefferson for a touchdown with nine seconds left to secure a win for his new team.

Mayfield, who was traded by the Cleveland Browns to the Carolina Panthers this offseason, asked for his release when he was demoted to third string. He was then claimed by the Rams and made his debut two days later.

John Wolford got the start but never attempted a pass as Mayfield came in on the second drive and finished with 230 yards on 22-of-35 passes with the winning touchdown. Los Angeles saw a six-game losing streak snapped and afterward, the praise was being thrown at Mayfield for getting ready but even more credit has been handed to head coach Sean McVay for helping Mayfield with some stellar play-calls.

Does the play of Baker Mayfield call Kevin Stefanski’s play calls into question?

It’s no secret that Kevin Stefanski has been questioned when it comes to his play-calling. While he’s had success in this role during his career, there have been times the offense stalled — especially during the 2021 season while Mayfield was still with the Browns.

Those who question his play-calling could surely connect the dots and say Mayfield’s demise in Cleveland is on the coach. But that’s not the case. Instead, this was most likely a perfect storm that helped Mayfield excel.

First, they were playing a team that’s not very good. No matter what’s been said about the Raiders, this is a franchise that lost to Jeff Saturday who has been a disaster as the head coach of the Colts outside of that game. And yes, McVay is a great play-caller with a Lombardi Trophy and two NFC Championship wins on his resume, so even saying he’s better than Stefanski isn’t an insult.

Most importantly, the unfamiliarity likely helped Mayfield. The truth is, we all know he has the talent. He’s shown this on several occasions — like when he hit Donovan Peoples-Jones for a winning touchdown against the Bengals.

The problem is when he overthinks. Throughout the 2021 season, Mayfield was constantly double-clutching and you could see he doubted himself. On Thursday night, he had nothing to lose and wasn’t overthinking.

In the end, we should congratulate him on a great night and thank him for taking down a rival in the AFC. But looking beyond that shouldn’t be done.