By Jake Arians
One of the biggest moves of the NFL offseason wasn’t the hiring of Kevin Stefanski by the Cleveland Browns. While I like the hire and the plan he is putting in place, he is a first-time head coach and has responsibilities other than just being the offensive coordinator and dealing with his quarterback. That quarterback is Baker Mayfield, and regardless of who else is on the team, make no mistake that he is the most important man in that franchise.
We all know the list of Browns quarterbacks through the years is long and less than stable, to say the least. After a solid rookie campaign, Mayfield admittedly was in a bad place last year and lost himself to a degree. With all the media and fan hype, and him being the poster boy of every commercial on TV, things got a bit overwhelming when the wins didn’t follow. The “swag” came before the “substance” for Mayfield and the Browns as a whole.
Fast forward to the present and Mayfield is on his third head coach and third offensive coordinator in three years—that isn’t exactly ideal for a young quarterback to thrive. However, Stefanski and the Browns did make one of the best moves of the offseason by hiring Alex Van Pelt as the team’s offensive coordinator.
Van Pelt is about all “substance” and very little “swag.” A veteran of the profession, Van Pelt brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the Browns. He not only has a decade-and-a-half long NFL coaching career, but also played the quarterback position at the NFL level for nine years. Despite his 20-plus years of NFL experience, most casual fans may not know who he is. In NFL coaching circles, Van Pelt has a great reputation but has definitely lived the coaching life, making a bunch of stops along the way.
What does the hiring mean and why is it good for Mayfield? While this is Stefanski’s offense and he, of course, will be heavily involved, he is a first-time head coach and will be pulled in a million directions. Van Pelt will be hands-on with Mayfield implementing this offense constantly—an offense I believe is the best and most well suited for Mayfield’s skill set and the Browns.
Featuring a heavy run game with a huge emphasis on play-action, this puts Mayfield on the move, where he thrives, as well as giving him more time to make good decisions down the field with the plethora of weapons he has to choose from. All that is great, but the biggest thing Van Pelt brings to the fold is stability.
Given Van Pelt’s personality and very little “swag,” he is the perfect guy to be in Mayfield’s ear all day long. Van Pelt doesn’t give a damn about anything being about him, and that will certainly rub off on his quarterback. Never too high and never too low, Van Pelt is a guy that comes in every day to put in the work—the work of a true professional that has done it at the highest level and has coached guys like Aaron Rodgers.
Mayfield’s leadership will thrive and he will be a much more mature player on the field, in the locker room, and in front of the media as the face of this franchise, which the Browns desperately need him to be. Every team’s success starts with the quarterback, but that has never held more true than in Cleveland. If Mayfield does become a more mature player and takes the next steps in becoming a true professional under the guidance of Van Pelt, the sky's the limit for this team.
The Browns again have made a lot of moves this offseason, but in my opinion, giving their franchise quarterback a guy like Van Pelt to rely on is one of the best moves any team made this offseason. It’s a move that will pay huge dividends for Mayfield’s career and the Browns’ future.
- Dec 08, 2022
- Dec 08, 2022