Browns coach Kevin Stefanski: Baker Mayfield will 'bounce back and I think he'll be better for it'

Baker Mayfield is coming off arguably the worst performance in his NFL career, and with two must-win games remaining, there’s no time to dwell on his errors.

Kevin Stefanski isn’t wasting time doing so, either.

“Baker told you guys, I’m sure the other night, he didn’t play up to his standard. And we expect him to play at a high level,” Stefanski said, via Cleveland.com’s Mary Kay Cabot. “I think confidence-wise, with the quarterback position, you get too much credit, you get too much blame. And that’s just how it is. And he’ll bounce back and I think he’ll be better for it.”

Entering Cleveland’s Christmas Day game against the top-seeded Packers, Mayfield owned a pedestrian, but respectable touchdown-to-interception ratio. While it may have felt to Browns fans as if Mayfield had thrown more interceptions in 2021, his ratio stood at 13-7.

After throwing four interceptions in the 24-22 loss — including a game-sealing pick by Rasul Douglas that came amid significant defensive contact — Mayfield now stands at 15-11. It’s far from a mark expected of a potential franchise quarterback who was brought on board via the No. 1 overall pick.

Mayfield’s 2021 season has been forgettable and fraught with injuries. The quarterback is playing through a shoulder injury that includes a fracture, as well as a handful of other ailments. He spent Week 15 on the reserve/COVID-19 list due to a positive test despite remaining asymptomatic.

It has been a trying year for Mayfield, which has in turn made it a frustrating season for the Browns, so much that Odell Beckham forced his way out shortly after the trade deadline passed. Mayfield has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 2,825 yards and the aforementioned 15-11 TD-INT ratio, and the Browns have disappointed, currently standing at 7-8 with two games to play.

But the quarterback and his teammates have a chance to turn things around drastically in the final couple of weeks if they can win out and get some help from the Los Angeles Rams (playing against Baltimore in Week 17) and Kansas City Chiefs (facing Cincinnati this weekend).

They won’t have to scoreboard watch if Mayfield can’t be better than he was Saturday. He must be better than he’s been in the last six weeks, a span in which he’s posted a passer rating of 90 or better just once.

The good news: Mayfield played decently in a close loss to Pittsburgh earlier this season, and he was fantastic in a blowout win over Cincinnati in Week 9.

That version of Mayfield must take the field in the final two weeks if the Browns hope to make the playoffs via a division title — and if Mayfield hopes to solidify his very uncertain standing with the franchise going forward.

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