Browns OC: Baker Mayfield, Kevin Stefanski Have 'Zero' Tension That I've Seen

Tyler Conway@@jtylerconwayFeatured Columnist IVJanuary 6, 2022

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) gestures during the second half an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Monday, Jan. 3, 2022, in Pittsburgh. (AP Photo/Don Wright)
AP Photo/Don Wright

Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt denied a report of tension between quarterback Baker Mayfield and head coach Kevin Stefanski.

"I've seen zero of that. ... I know the line of communication is wide open between those two guys. I know they've met weekly on Tuesdays to make sure everything is good. I don't feel that at all," Van Pelt told reporters Thursday.

Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com reported Mayfield's frustrations with Stefanski and his play-calling "bubbled below the surface most of the season."

Mayfield, who played much of the season wearing a harness to protect his left shoulder and will undergo surgery later this month, finished a miserable 2021 campaign with 3,010 yards and 17 touchdowns against 13 interceptions. He ranked among the worst starting NFL quarterbacks in nearly every metric, while a talented Browns team sputtered its way to a 6-8 record with him as its starter.

It's hard to see where Mayfield's frustration lies. He's arguably the most protected quarterback in football in terms of scheme. The Browns pound the ball on the ground with Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt (or any of their replacements) and rarely ask Mayfield to do too much with his arm.

While Mayfield was sacked 43 times, one of the worst marks in the NFL, he was knocked down only 18 times and pressured a relatively average 52 times. Those numbers indicate Mayfield was not sensing pressure well and costing his team yards by not getting the ball out.

The quarterback position is arguably the biggest thing holding the Browns back from competing for a Super Bowl. Look no further than Odell Beckham Jr. instantly excelling once he left the Browns for the Rams as evidence that something is very amiss with the Cleveland passing game.

Whatever tensions might exist between Stefanski and Mayfield will need to be worked out over the offseason, given it's expected both will be back in 2022.