You’re probably thinking that I’m crazy after reading that headline, but there is method to my madness. I believe that Keven Stefanski should dust off his Coach of the Year Award, give it one last kiss, pack it up, and FedEx it to Baker Mayfield.
Stefanski started out mediocre in his first season as a head coach in 2020 with a 4-2 record. However, those 2 losses were humiliations at the hands of the division-rival Ravens (38-6) and Steelers (38-7). That’s not how you make the playoffs.
And it wasn’t Stefanski who turned the team around. Rather, it was a stroke of bad luck for Odell Beckham, Jr. who was knocked out for the season by a knee injury during Week 7. Everybody knew that Baker & OBJ, while pals off the field, were totally ineffective on the field.
Everybody except Stefanski, that is.
And Andrew Berry, of course. But once OBJ was out of the picture, Baker went off like a rocket. From Sports Illustrated & PFF:
“Baker improved in every facet of quarterback play.”
“Baker improved at all levels of depth, including being the league’s most accurate deep passer over his final 12 games.
In other words, Stefanski had no clue as to how to unlock Baker’s incredible potential. It was quite literally pure, dumb, luck.
Kevin, send the award to Baker. Deep down, you know you don’t deserve it.
While Browns fans are on pins & needles waiting for the NFL to pass judgement on Deshaun Watson, they should be just as worried about their knucklehead coach. Because let’s face it, many of the calls Stefanski made during the 2021 season were just plain idiotic.
And no, I am not exaggerating. The Browns were famous for their rushing game, and it was Stefanski who shut it down. See what I wrote here: Stefanski’s Desperation Transforms Browns into Passing Team.
Stefanski failed to bench Baker when his arm was literally hanging by a thread, and protected him with an injured left tackle hopping on one foot (Jedrick Wills). Remember Baker’s last game against the Steelers? Where Stefanski tasked James Hudson III to block T.J. Watt by himself and Baker got sacked NINE times? That was brutal and nauseating to watch. It would have gone easier on Baker if Stefanski had simply hit him with a bat nine times. It was like watching an MMA fighter being beaten half to death and his corner refusing to throw in the towel. It was probably the lowest point in Browns history.
And you have to wonder, were the Browns taking a mini-dive? Not to get a higher draft-pick, but to prepare the ground for kicking Baker to the curb. After all, the more hatred aimed at Baker, the less risky it would be to replace him. And it worked. The level of anti-Baker vitriol that poured out of the Cleveland sports media was unhinged with many commentators literately fit to be captured with nets and taken to the loony bin. It was almost as if the Browns were paying the reporters to pour on the hate…
Here’s a conspiracy theory for you: the Browns will not release Baker because they don’t want him to play in the 2022 season and make them look bad.
After all, Stefanski, Berry, and the Haslams know better than anybody just what a healthy Baker Mayfield is capable of.
Note: the latest insanity from the Cleveland sports media is that Deshaun Watson is a great leader because he took the offense to the Bahamas. Yet, they criticize Baker Mayfield for creating a locker-room rift when he did the same thing last summer with his Camp Mayfield at Lake Travis High School. Of course, it doesn’t make a lot of sense for a QB to hold a camp for defensive players, but that doesn’t protect Baker from unfair criticism. Reading the Cleveland sports media is like reading RT.com. It’s straight-up propaganda.