Baker Mayfield’s latest press conference displays a quarterback that is quickly becoming one of the NFL’s fiercest leaders because he is determined to improve both himself and his team.
The media spoke to quarterback Baker Mayfield for the first time during training camp on Thursday. Mayfield spoke on a number of things including his mindset going into the 2021 season and where the team is at.
Earlier in the week head coach Kevin Stefanski praised Mayfield, characterizing him as the leader of the team. He was not the only one with positive things to say, as center J.C. Tretter told reporters that he and Mayfield regularly sit down together and discuss concepts and game plans.
The number one takeaway from his appearance was how poised Mayfield looked. He was engaged in the questions, but always managed to stay in control of the situation and never veered off topic.
He said a number of revealing things that showed the public a glimpse of what his mindset is going into the season.
Excited for returning continuity
For the first time in his career Mayfield will have his head coach and offensive coordinator back. He did not have to familiarize himself with a new playbook this offseason, and now gets to build on his performance in this system from a year ago.
Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt noted that he could see Mayfield had been in his playbook during the offseason. He has regular meetings with Stefanski about the concepts and has been a big part of concept building during the offseason.
Within the first few minutes of his presser Mayfield pointed to the fact that the Browns are returning all eleven offensive starters from the 2020 season. He said that he was glad to have all of his teammates back, as they put in a lot of foundational work last season.
They all have bonds, connections, and speak the same offensive terminology. Mayfield used the word "build" several times, describing how everything feels natural with this current group of players and how they are in lockstep.
Believes he has another level
Mayfield is coming off a career year where he posted 26 touchdowns against just eight interceptions. He was efficient and became a more explosive quarterback as the season progressed.
All of this work culminated in the playoffs, where he had a historic playoff debut against the Pittsburgh Steelers. He tossed three touchdowns and led the team to their first playoff win since 1994.
He continued to impress in a divisional round loss against the Kansas City Chiefs. The NFL world came away impressed with Mayfield, as he firmly cemented himself as a franchise cornerstone. However, he still believes that he can push himself to another level.
When asked about his goals for the upcoming season Mayfield said that he is hoping to become more efficient and turn the ball over less. He put it the best when he simply said, "I can play a whole lot better than last year."
The surrounding circumstances suggest that Mayfield can in fact improve. He is an ideal fit for Stefanski's west coast offense and has the talent to expand on this offense.
In the back half of the 2020 season Mayfield was spectacular. He didn't turn the ball over and made the right play time and time again. The lack of perimeter speed handcuffed his production, but he still found ways to counter this.
He is controlling expectations ahead of season
As the leader of the team, players are going to follow Mayfield. If he gets caught up in the buzz around himself and the team odds are the season will end poorly. If he can temper these expectations and get players to focus on what lies in front of them the Browns can have a special season.
Mayfield was asked about the outside noise and how he controls those expectations. He says that he tells everyone in the locker room that you can never get too high and never get too low on yourself.
This shows tremendous growth from someone who just two years ago got caught up in the media whirlwind surrounding his name. The Browns were a trendy Super Bowl pick heading into the 2019 season, and Mayfield let it get to his head.
He ended the season with a staggering 21 interceptions, and the Browns finished the year 6-10 despite having one of the most talented rosters league-wide.
The Browns didn’t command as much attention during the lead up to 2020, so it was easier to manage expectations. This offseason the Browns are right back in the spotlight, but this time it feels different in large part due to how Mayfield is handling it.