Baker Mayfield is not in the same place he was at the end of 2018: He now sits in a place where he divides the fan base. You either find one person that rides with him and defends him no matter what or another that wants to chuck him off the I-90 Bridge, there is no in-between. I think in life the truth is always found in the middle. The truth is, he wasn’t as bad as you think but the reality was, everything around him made it worse. From the lack of discipline, the poor coaching, the drops, a struggling o-line, players being in the dog house by Freddie Kitchens, Myles Garrett’s suspension, and lack of a game plan that followed common sense. It’s not just one person it was a collective unit of failure. So yes, it’s fair to say Baker needs to be better, but the overall dysfunction of last year makes it hard to think anyone else would be successful in that mess.
But it’s hard not to like what he can still do in 2020. Despite the down year, there is still plenty to build around. The thought process this offseason especially has been to try to get Baker back on track, and with the hiring of Kevin Stefanski, the Browns are putting together an offense that seems to be more suited to the strengths of Baker Mayfield. Stefanski is bringing in the wide zone scheme, which brought him success as offensive coordinator with the Minnesota Vikings last season, which emphasizes heavy formations using multiple tight end sets. These types of sets are called 12 and 13 personnel which means at least 2 tight ends or more are going to be on the field. For Cleveland, when you saw the success Baker had in heavy sets, you wonder why it wasn’t utilized properly.
When you look at the stats with Baker in multiple tight ends over his career, his completion percentage is 63.7% while throwing 15 TDs and 5 INT, for a QB rating of 94.2. This means 12 or 13 personnel should be used more on the field in order for Baker to succeed. Comparing this to 2019, When the Browns were in 11 personal, (meaning only one tight end) Baker was only completing 56% of his passes for 5 TDs and 10 INTs with a 67.5 QB rating. The major problem is that they ran this formation 56.3% of the time through the first 8 games of 2019. When you see the numbers, it’s obvious the Browns mishandled Baker. Of course, when Kareem Hunt came back it shrank to 40%, but still, the Browns were only using 12 and 13 personnel 29% of the time, and when Baker was in that personnel grouping in 2019, he completed 66.2% of his passes while throwing for 8 TDs and 4 INTs for a 92.9 QB rating.
Of course, Baker still has to put it all together for this season, but if the numbers mean anything, it showed an obvious comfort zone that was super underutilized last season. With Kevin Stefanski, I expect him to be putting Baker in a much better position than what he was in last year, especially when Stefanksi ran this offense 54% of the time last year. Expect Baker to be feeling dangerous next fall in this new scheme going forward.
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