ABOUT BAKER MAYFIELD
This can be a make-or-break 12 months for Baker Mayfield…
If Baker Mayfield doesn’t look good early within the season, the Browns may shortly change quarterbacks…
Is time operating out for Baker Mayfield, or will he have the very best 12 months of his younger profession?
You’ve most likely heard feedback like these for months concerning the Browns QB, particularly within the nationwide media. Mayfield is a straightforward speaking level. Media members and followers typically have robust opinions about him, and his character can alienate some folks at occasions.
What’s the actual deal?
My view of Mayfield has modified from the spring. That was when the Browns introduced in Kevin Stefanski as head coach with one in every of his jobs being to develop a extra QB-friendly offense.
Then GM Andrew Berry spent large cash to signal Jack Conklin to take over at proper sort out. They made Jedrick Wills Jr. their first-round choose to play left sort out. Revered coach Invoice Callahan was employed to develop a zone-blocking scheme for the offensive line.
Mayfield likes to throw to tight ends. Berry signed free agent Austin Hooper to a contract that made him the NFL’s highest-paid tight finish – not less than for a couple of months. It appeared the Browns had been doing all the pieces doable to arrange Mayfield for fulfillment, particularly since he already had Professional Bowlers Kareem Hunt, Nick Chubb, Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. on the roster.
Mayfield has misplaced not less than 10 kilos. He appears faster and in higher form, bodily and emotionally.
“My emphasis was chopping out dangerous physique weight, the dangerous kilos,” he said on a Zoom call.
The brand new teaching workers, the upgraded roster and an improved low season method led to excessive 2020 expectations for Mayfield. However is that truthful? For some time, that seemed to be the case.
WHAT HAS CHANGED?
If the Browns had the same old spring mini-camps, it will have been a lot simpler for Stefanski to put in his offense, and I’d really feel higher about Mayfield this season. If the Browns had a standard veteran coaching camp with not less than a pair preseason video games, I’d really feel higher about Mayfield this season.
However COVID-19 worn out all of the spring practices and summer time preseason video games. It additionally in the reduction of on common coaching camp practices. Then toss in knee surgery to starting center JC Tretter, and it’s no shock the offense has typically regarded disjointed or gradual in practices open to the media.
Digital studying and Zoom calls aren’t any substitute for on-field, muscle reminiscence work when studying a brand new offense.
ONE CONSTANT: CHANGES
One of many causes the offense has had some higher moments with backup QB Case Keenum on the sector is Keenum performed for Stefanski in Minnesota. He already is aware of the offense. Within the meantime, Mayfield is on his fourth head coach as he opens his third NFL season.
Let’s repeat that: FOUR HEAD COACHES IN THREE YEARS.
This season screamed for plenty of follow time for the Browns and their 25-year-old QB. The brand new teaching workers has requested Mayfield to vary his footwork. In addition they have him working extra taking direct snaps underneath heart than in his traditional shotgun formation.
Lastly, the offense is kind of totally different that what he had at Oklahoma, or underneath earlier Browns coaches Hue Jackson, Todd Haley and Freddie Kitchens.
Like each different NFL group, the Browns are opening the common season with the least preparation in league historical past. This hurts the Browns greater than different, extra secure organizations. This camp is such a multitude groups can’t even herald officers to name penalties throughout follow due to COVID-19 restrictions limiting contact with the gamers.
For AFC North rivals Baltimore and Pittsburgh with established teaching workers and QBs, it’s not practically such an impediment. Even Cincinnati is in its second season with head coach Zac Taylor, who’s beginning rookie Joe Burrow at QB.
The Browns play the Ravens and Bengals in a four-day span to begun the season. In order that they gained’t have a lot follow time after their first sport to arrange for the second.
WHAT A WAY TO OPEN
The Browns start the season Aug. 13 in Baltimore. I don’t really feel superb about it.
The Browns will most likely begin rookie Nick Harris at heart. He has drawn reward from Callahan for his skill to “get us out and in of the safety calls we have to make.” Callahan likes the poise of Harris, however because the veteran coach added, “till you get him matched up in opposition to groups like Baltimore and Cincinnati, you simply don’t know.”
The identical is true of Wills at left sort out, a place he by no means performed in highschool or at Alabama. The previous proper sort out is making a place change with out the good thing about preseason video games to assist the transition.
Assuming Tretter is out, the offensive line will have only one participant who began the opener in 2019 – left guard Joel Bitonio. The offensive line has the expertise to be efficient, however all the brand new faces studying a brand new scheme underneath a brand new teaching workers is ready up for some very traumatic moments early within the season.
WHAT ABOUT BAKER?
An NFL supply informed me: “Baker has embraced laborious teaching and the brand new system. He has been learning and interesting together with his teammates. It’s been up and down studying the brand new offense, however he’s enhancing.”
Whereas this will sound like excuses for Mayfield, it’s an correct evaluation of the scenario he faces. Snap judgments can be made, particularly if Mayfield has some poor video games early. That might occur.
What does Mayfield want probably the most? One thing followers and the media hate to offer – persistence.
If issues are terrible within the first few video games, there can be a temptation to change to Keenum. Some within the media and fan base will most likely name for it. However the very last thing the Browns must do is shortly change QBs.
From the second Stefanski and Berry had been employed in January, a primary mission was to assist Mayfield grow to be the reply to the Browns’ infinite QB query.
I’ll say it once more … persistence can be required. The Browns and Mayfield needs to be judged by how they carry out over the 16 video games. The ultimate eight needs to be significantly better than the opening eight.
That’s how this season should be seen.
RECENT TERRY PLUTO COLUMNS
New Browns face masks on the market: Here’s where you can buy Cleveland Browns-themed face coverings for coronavirus protection for adults and youth, including a single mask ($14.99) and a 3-pack ($24.99). All NFL proceeds donated to CDC Foundation.