Baker Mayfield

Ken Blaze/USA Today Sports

How Baker Mayfield is making Cleveland an attractive destination for Josh McDaniels

John Tomase
November 27, 2018 - 9:53 am

So it turns out that Josh McDaniels didn’t torch his chances at a head coaching job after catfishing the Colts.

And of all the positions that could appeal to the Patriots offensive coordinator this February – care to take Aaron Rodgers for a spin? – a dark horse has emerged.

His hometown Cleveland Browns.

Perennially the league’s most dysfunctional franchise and the losers of 33 out of 34 from 2015-17, the Browns have hope for the first time in forever because of one man, and it’s not interim head coach Gregg Williams.

Quarterback Baker Mayfield was a shocking first overall pick in last year’s draft, and it’s already clear that Cleveland didn’t overreach. A Heisman Trophy winner at Oklahoma, Mayfield arrived in the NFL with intangibles and leadership that suggested a more promising career than his raw physical skills. At 6-1, 215, he’s one of the smallest quarterbacks in the league, but it hasn’t stopped him from demonstrating the same playmaking skills that made him one of the most decorated QBs in college history.

He has led the Browns to consecutive wins over the Falcons and Bengals by throwing seven touchdowns and no interceptions. In Sunday’s 35-20 win at Cincinnati, he completed 19 of 26 passes for 258 yards and four TDs. His passer rating over the last two weeks stands at a gaudy 149.2.

Mayfield represents the equalizer for any head coaching situation, even one as unfailingly hopeless as Cleveland. Whatever reservations McDaniels justifiably feels about the Browns – does he want to coach in his hometown? Is he interested in a franchise that consistently falls on its face? Should he risk joining the eight Browns coaches since Bill Belichick left in 1995 never to earn a head job again? – Mayfield represents the equalizer.

McDaniels’ connection to Mayfield is no mystery, either. Before the draft, the Patriots were strongly linked to the QB, who initially declined to work out for them when they were picking 31st. The Athletic reported that McDaniels coveted him, and Mayfield’s agent, Jack Mills, told Andrew Brandt’s podcast that the Patriots were the mystery team considering a move up to No. 2 in the draft to snag him.

It’s easy to see why the Patriots would be interested. Mayfield possesses a lot of the same skills that made Jimmy Garoppolo the heir apparent to Brady before becoming the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL with the 49ers. Mayfield makes quick decisions, is accurate, and knows how to lead. What he lacks in brute arm strength he makes up for in touch. Sound like anyone we know?

In any event, McDaniels will once again be a hot commodity this winter, and he’d be the perfect coach for an organization looking to develop a young quarterback.

As strange as it sounds, the Browns might be the perfect fit.