'Alpha male' Mayfield helped attract top assistants

The Cleveland Browns went from a burned-out, impoverished, cursed, wasteland no salient NFL mind wanted to go near to the new hot Iceland-esque travel destination.

The main reason behind the one-year about-face is simple: Baker Mayfield.

The young quarterback helped attract some of the top assistant coaches to Cleveland to work under Freddie Kitchens.

On Thursday, both offensive coordinator Todd Monken and defensive coordinator Steve Wilks mentioned Mayfield as a key factor in choosing Cleveland over other destinations.

"When you start looking at taking jobs, at least for me, in order of what I was looking for was an opportunity to win and potentially a franchise quarterback, the right people and third was calling the plays," Monken said, via Cleveland.com. "That's what I did when I went to Tampa. It didn't work out that way, but that's the decision that I made to leave Southern Miss. That's exactly the same decision I made to come here."

Mayfield's on-field play, in which he broke the rookie passing touchdown record in just 13 starts, completely flipped the Browns from perennial dud to electric fantasyland of possibilities. His off-field persona, while miffing stuffy, old, cantankerous boors, builds confidence and swagger throughout the organization.

The young signal-caller was one reason Monken turned down other opportunities to join a Cleveland team in which he won't call plays.

Even for a defensive play-caller like Wilks, the quarterback is important.

"You can't win in this league without a quarterback," Wilks said. "And we have a quarterback. He's an alpha male and affects the whole team."

Of course, the Browns have more than just Mayfield. In Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward, the defense deploys game-changing threats on multiple levels. In running back Nick Chubb, the offense owns another centerpiece. And Kitchens appears to be the type of open-minded coach that will allow his coordinators the freedom to concoct potent potions throughout a season.

"I scheduled this first because it's where I wanted to be," Wilks said, via the team's official website. "I had some (other) opportunities, but this is the first place I wanted to come.

"When you look at personnel and their direction, and with the things that (general manager John) Dorsey is doing and his crew, it was a no-brainer. I cannot ask for a better situation. When you are looking at the opportunities that I had out there, I wanted to be here and I am glad that things worked out."

Cleveland: Where football people now want to be.