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Baker Mayfield calls continuity within offense 'pretty special'

Mayfield plans to take full advantage of the retention in Browns coaches and offensive players for building a smooth offseason in his fourth NFL season

The theme of Baker Mayfield's 2021 offseason plan can be summarized with one word: continuity.

From the coaches he'll be working with to the tasks he's completing to become a better quarterback, much of the work Mayfield experienced a year ago will stay the same for his fourth NFL offseason. Kevin Stefanski is the same head coach. Alex Van Pelt is the same offensive coordinator.

For the first three NFL offseasons of Mayfield's career, the word "same" was always replaced with "new." Mayfield has always needed to shake hands with a new head coach and coordinator and get to work on memorizing a different playbook with different schemes. His offseason routines changed year-to-year, which created difficult barriers to cross in getting ready for Week 1.

Now, Mayfield no longer needs to climb those mountains.

"When it comes to continuity and everybody being on the same page and having the same goals, that's so important," Mayfield said Monday in a video call with local reporters. "This is the first time ever in my career that you have 11 guys that at one point started on this offense all coming back. I think that is truly pretty special.

"I'm obviously looking forward to continuing to build on what we started last year. It's nowhere near from being over."

After an 0-for-5 start, Mayfield went 21-for-22 for 297 yards and five touchdowns with the lone incompletion coming on a clock-stopping spike on the Browns' game-winning touchdown drive. His completion streak of 21 blew away the Browns' franchise record, which was previously shared by Bernie Kosar and Kelly Holcomb, and his touchdowns were the most in a game by a Cleveland signal-caller in 13 years.

Mayfield began virtual meetings with Stefanski and Van Pelt last week when Phase I of the offseason began. Stefanski said the coaching staff prepared individual plans for each player to review areas of improvement for 2021, and Mayfield's list of tasks was no shorter than anyone else's.

But it also wasn't much different than what he completed a season ago. Mayfield focused on footwork, technique and maximizing his play strengths in Stefanski's newly-introduced playbook. All of that, plus the workouts and dieting he completed to add four pounds of lean muscle last offseason, is on the to-do list for 2021.

"I'm not just learning from scratch when it comes to this system," Mayfield said. "I'm really making these next steps in details when it comes to our plays, schemes and truly having a grasp on our whole system."

Nearly all of the players from the Browns' 2020 offense are back, too. The receivers room hasn't added or subtracted any of its top weapons, while the running backs and offensive line all retained their top starters.

All of the biggest changes to the Browns have been on defense, where six free agents have been added to upgrade a unit that finished 21st in the NFL last season.

Several of the new players have remarked how Mayfield was one of the first players to extend them a welcome. A short text message can go a long way in making a new arrival feel comfortable with a new team, and Mayfield has attempted to do just that as a way of furthering the productive, welcoming culture he's helped build in Cleveland.

"I've been extremely impressed with the pieces we're bringing in and reaching out to these guys to welcome them with open arms and know that they're coming to a place that wants to win," Mayfield said. "I'm excited about the people we've brought in, culture-wise."

From Mayfield's vantage point, however, everything remains mostly untouched. The Browns will work to re-mold the same offensive efficiency that drove Cleveland to the playoffs in 2020, and the feeling Mayfield had of helping lift the Browns back to winning ways hasn't been lost as he embarks on the long offseason that's all about going even further into the playoffs.

That alone is motivation for Mayfield to endure the same tedious tasks he completed a year ago. He proved that those plans worked, and with the same framework and personnel around him for another offseason, he's confident that they'll work again.

"We weren't satisfied when it came to just making it to the playoffs, winning one game and losing in the next round," he said. "That's the great part of what we have coming back. Everybody's hungry for more."