Cleveland Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski called Baker Mayfield's play against the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday "inconsistent" but wouldn't lay the blame for the team's 38-6 loss solely at the feet of the quarterback.
"I'm not pinning blame on any one person," he told reporters. "We all share that and that starts with me."
Mayfield, 25, struggled against Baltimore, finishing 21-of-39 for 189 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was also sacked twice. Cleveland's offense was just 3-of-12 on third down and had three turnovers.
It was a disappointing way to open the 2020 campaign after such a poor season a year ago, when Mayfield threw for 3,827 yards, 22 touchdowns and 21 interceptions while completing only 59.4 percent of his passes. The Browns came into the 2019 season with major expectations but finished 6-10, leading to the firing of Freddie Kitchens as head coach.
That makes this season critical for both Mayfield and the Browns. If the former struggles, the Browns may decide the 2018 top overall pick may not be the franchise quarterback they hoped he was.
One of the concerns both last year and against the Ravens was the seeming lack of chemistry between Mayfield and top receiver Odell Beckham Jr., who was targeted 10 times Sunday but had only three catches for 22 yards.
"We didn't connect as much as we'd like to, it was a combination of things," Stefanski told reporters. "Couple balls I'm sure Baker wants back, couple routes I'm sure Odell wants back."
Mayfield also addressed what went wrong:
"A few of those times I did target him, there were some defensive penalties, so I would say that had something to do with it. But I've got to be better giving him a chance on some of those things, the free play late in the game (on an offsides penalty), just give him a chance. He's a great player, so I've got to give him a chance."
The Browns need Mayfield to be better, but Sunday's loss was a collective letdown from the team.