As the Browns floundered amid hype and expectation, Baker Mayfield's tribulations were highlighted far more than his triumphs in 2019.
Still, the top pick of the 2018 NFL Draft showed flashes of brilliance and glimpses of greatness.
He looked particularly good on play-action passes, which just so happens to be a calling card of Browns rookie head coach Kevin Stefanski and reason to believe Mayfield can rebound.
"I think it matches up very nicely with being in control, getting checks in the run game and just being efficient," Mayfield told reporters Thursday – via team transcript -- of how he meshes with Stefanski's offense. "Last year, I know, was not a great year for turnovers, but I have always prided myself on not turning the ball over. That is something in the conversations we have had is where we do take our shots, it has to be smart decisions and there is nothing wrong with throwing an incompletion every once in a while. Scheme wise, I think my skillset matches up to that very well and also how he is coaching it. I think it is going to be a great fit."
Mayfield's 21 interceptions in 2019 were the most in the AFC and second in the NFL.
Nine of his 22 touchdowns were on play-action action passes, though, and that was tied for third in the league, per Next Gen Stats. As for who led the league in play-action touchdown tosses, well that was Kirk Cousins – playing under Stefanski on the Vikings -- with 14.
Mayfield's passer rating was 36.8 points better on pass attempts involving play action, as well.
They are statistics that lend themselves to Stefanski's offense – which will be coordinated by Alex Van Pelt – being a phenomenal fit for Mayfield and he realizes it.
"Kevin is obviously an extremely sharp guy," Mayfield said. "He is able to relate to everybody. That is one of the best parts about him and being around him so far. Just hearing his message, everything he does is with a purpose. It is a very deliberate message, and he has everybody believing in that on the staff. I think that is how the foundation should be set, and he has done an unbelievable job of that. Scheme-wise with him establishing the run, everything he did in Minnesota and what that does for the rest of the game and opening it up in the play action, the pass game and also just controlling the clock, they were a very efficient team for the last few years. That is kudos to him."
Perhaps it will likewise be a boon for Baker.