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Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns HC Kevin Stefanski at odds over playcalling

Matt Johnson

Baker Mayfield hoped to prove himself worthy of a contract extension this season, a deal that would make him one of the highest-paid quarterbacks in the NFL. Instead, the face of the Cleveland Browns franchise is struggling and there appear to be issues between the quarterback and head coach.

Following Sunday’s narrow 24-22 win over the Baltimore Ravens, Mayfield seemed to take a direct shot at the coaching staff. In his post-game press conference, the former No. 1 pick blasted the team’s conservative playcalling and cited it as a big reason why they nearly blew a 24-6 halftime lead.

It’s also not the first time Mayfield has seemingly pointed the finger at other factors impacting him this season. In an interview with NFL Network’s Kurt Warner, the Browns’ quarterback talked about overcoming ‘internal things’ that caused problems and are often viewed as criticisms.

“It comes down to trying to find an even balance of listening to those opinions around you that truly matter, friends, family, teammates, and that’s been the tricky part about this year, has been a lot of internal things. It hasn’t just been the outside noise.

Cleveland Browns QB Baker Mayfield on how he deals with criticism, via NFL Network.

Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot has now shed light on some of the issues reportedly going on in Cleveland. Specifically, a disconnect between Mayfield and Stefanski regarding the playcalling.

“Specifically, there’s a feeling that the Browns haven’t played to Mayfield’s strengths this season, but that’s also been hard because he’s been so banged up. One source told cleveland.com that Mayfield isn’t the only offensive player who hasn’t been enamored with the playcalling”

Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot on issues between Baker Mayfield, Kevin Stefanski

A year ago, the Browns looked like a Super Bowl contender with Mayfield enjoying a career-best season and the offense firing on all cylinders.

  • Baker Mayfield stats (2020): 222.7 pass yards/game, 62.8% completion rate, 95.9 passer rating, 26-8 TD-INT ratio

Mayfield is still playing with a shoulder harness after he suffered a torn labrum when his shoulder dislocated earlier in the season. While he is playing through the pain, it’s clearly had an impact on Cleveland’s offense. It’s all coming at a time when there is uncertainty about Mayfield’s long-term status with the Browns.

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But there is also history worth considering. Mayfield is on his third NFL head coach, with all three (Hue Jackson, Freddie Kitchens and Stefanski) coming from the offensive side of the ball. Cleveland won 11 games last season in Stefanski’s first year and even winning eight games this season would be the team’s second-best mark since 2007.

If concerns over playcalling are shared, there are changes Stefanski can make. But it’s worth mentioning that Mayfield is also not living up to the standards of a No.1 pick. Throughout the season, he has fallen short in critical situations.

  • Baker Mayfield advanced stats: 48.8% completion rate on third downs, 69.6 passer rating in yhe 4th quarter

The Browns are fighting for a playoff spot, so major changes aren’t imminent. But both the organization and quarterback will have a lot to evaluate this offseason.