BEREA, Ohio -- Baker Mayfield takes his football seriously. He also loves to have fun. Some people can’t distinguish between the two, but don’t count new Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Todd Monken among that group.
“The best way I can put it is he likes to have fun but he is not a clown,” Monken said. “I think people misconstrue how much fun he likes to have playing the game and around people.”
Mayfield played in 14 games as a rookie last season and broke the NFL record for touchdown passes by a rookie with 27, despite not being seen as the starting quarterback going into the season by then-coach Hue Jackson. Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley were fired after eight games and Freddie Kitchens took over the offensive playcalling duties. Kitchens since has been elevated to the head-coaching spot and brought in Monken to run his offense.
The one thing Monken noticed right away about his new quarterback was the “competitive spirit” that Mayfield showed, even if the team was not yet in pads. One of the things about being competitive is that you also want to be the best at what you do. Monken has seen that from Mayfield, too.
“He’s a serious guy when it comes to the game of football,” Monken said. “I am telling you when you are in the meetings and you are out here, he wants to be coached and he wants to be great.”
Being in the second year as a starting quarterback also comes with the responsibility of being a leader not only on the field but in those meetings. Mayfield understands this and even embraces it.
“It is definitely a lot different position mentality-wise being the vocal guy here now, and it is a big difference from now to last year,” Mayfield said last week. “It is a great difference to be able to be that guy that people are looking at during OTAs and during meetings and stuff like that. That is important to me.”
On the field, the offense will have more firepower than any Browns team in recent history after the offseason acquisitions of wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and running back Kareem Hunt (who will miss the first eight games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy). Add those players to an offense that seemed to start finding its identity in the second half of last season, and the Browns could cause headaches for opposing defenses.
“It is kind of pick your poison now,” Mayfield said. “We have some pretty good talent all around -- tight ends, running backs, receivers and then going in with the same offensive line. Now it is, what are we going to do with it.”
If the Browns can put it all together, Mayfield will have some serious fun.