Interesting to hear about Van Pelt not wanting Baker to get his own QB coach in the offseason. Probably the first time I've heard of that, but it makes sense. Something else I didn't like hearing was Baker saying he didn't NEED help working on certain things. I don't have the exact quote, but it was something like, "I don't need someone to tell me how to do a 3 step drop. If it needs work, I'll critique myself."
I don't know the exact context, but I know that wasn't what I wanted to hear. It was obvious to everyone that Baker was missing the intermediate throws (normally high, which means you can't throw over the middle), was locking on PRE-SNAP (especially in red zone), and he wasn't staying in the pocket. I can understand not staying in the pocket, as our OL wasn't great in pass protection, but Baker darted out to his right FAR too often instead of stepping up and defenses were all to ready for it.
You ready for the good news? OK, but before we get to it, we need a little history. Remember when the Vikings broke the bank and gave Kirk Cousins like the biggest guaranteed contract ever? Well, Kirk Cousins then went out and set the world on fire, right? Well, kind of. Although he threw 30 tds against 10 picks, the offense was clunky and Minnesota actually let go of their OC during the season and none other than Kevin Stefanski finished the year in the role.
The offense got better under Stefanski and he was invited back to be the OC for the 2019 season where Minnesota enjoyed a versatile attack that heavily relied on the ground game and devastating play-action passing attacks. If you want to see what Minnesota's offense looks like just check out the YouTube highlights of their games, or you can watch the San Francisco 49's offense. They look very similar (with obvious differences of course) and they rely on multiple variations of the exact same formation to confuse defenses.
OK, so you remember when the 49's beat our asses into the ground? Remember how there were receivers wide open, running backs gashing us, and essentially we couldn't do anything to stop them? Yeah...that's what will happen if a defense isn't prepared properly, and THAT'S what our offense CAN look like. Can anybody tell me the names of the 49's best wide receivers? Other than Kittle, I have no clue. Imagine our offense looking like theirs but with Chubb, OBJ, and Landry.
Would anybody say that Garoppolo or Cousins are more talented than Baker Mayfield? Throw better? I don't think so. So if you put Baker in a similar offense to what the Vikings and 49's ran, is it fair to expect similar results? I think it is, especially when we bring in a real TE and fullback. Don't forget, our TEs were garbage last year and I had no faith in any of them. If I had to see Baker force that play-action pass over the middle to Harris ONE more time, I would have gone crazy.
Stefanski in Minnesota was all about detail, which will be a stark contrast to Kitchens. Be prepared for a total culture shock and a baptism of sorts. I'm telling you, it's going to be night and day different in terms of preparation and play-calling, I know it. Remember when we'd get into the red zone, like inside the 5, and it was total chaos? Now, it got better with the arrival of Hunt, but Jesus we looked lost sometimes. Remember against Buffalo when it took 47 plays inside the 3 to score and our own PLAYERS were calling for the FG?! Have you ever seen that before?
Now, obviously I have no way of being certain of anything, as I'm just some idiot who loves the Browns and drank too much coffee this morning which propelled me into writing this novel. There's one last thing I wanted to discuss (I know, I know) and that's our OL. We had the exact same tackles last year as the 2018 year yet virtually everyone is bemoaning how terrible they are, including me. In 2018 after Williams and Kitchens took over we'd had near historic levels of OL play. Like, we weren't counting sacks, we were counting QB "touches". Baker literally didn't get TOUCHED sometimes. So what happened last year?
Playcalling happened, that's what. Teams knowing what we're doing, predictable calls, calling the same play multiple times in a row, calling plays we haven't practiced in weeks...ALL sorts of problems. Those kinds of errors will be gone. I don't think we're going to be all sunshine and rainbows, I mean, this is freakin Cleveland. But we're going to be better, and by better I mean fighting for playoffs...finally.