During a Friday appearance on 92.3 The Fan’s “Bull and Fox” show, Bernie Kosar said he thinks Mayfield can handle the competition from veteran quarterback Case Keenum, whom the team signed in free agency.
“This year with a new coach and new system, and an evolution of the passing game, it is time for not only just Baker but for a lot of the young guys to step up and lead,” Kosar said. “That’s the great thing I think about the NFL. When you have competition behind you, and the pressure is behind, I think the cream rises to the time.
“I think Baker will be able to meet this challenge.”
Kosar’s comments came a day after former Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme said he thinks Keenum could take Mayfield starting job.
“I’m not trying to pick a fight with Jake Delhomme, but I do think his statements were a litter harsher on Baker than they need to be,” Kosar said.
Kosar attributed some of Mayfield’s struggles last season to the Browns’ system under head coach Freddie Kitchens, whom the team fired after posting a 6-10 record.
“Dustin [Fox], you and me we talked at length about really my complete dislike for the system last year,” Kosar said. “Not using the tight ends, not having a fullback, horrible in terms of the play-action passing game to set up the intermediate to down-the-field throws, almost no moving of the pocket to get Baker a little more time and to isolate protections, to create spaces for him to get the ball off down the field.
“Almost the antithesis of this offense will be the Kevin Stefanski offense this year where they were almost…I think the Vikings ran the ball 49% of the time last year. They moved the pocket on first and second down with the play-action pass, the bootlegs, the half rollouts with multiple tight ends and multiple backs in the backfield.”
Last season, only the San Francisco 49ers (49.2%) and the Baltimore Ravens (56.0%) ran the ball more than the Vikings.
Kosar said he thinks running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt fit “perfectly” in Stefanski’s system.
“You reach a stage where it’s time to play,” Kosar said of Mayfield. “You’re going into year three, they are imperatively important years towards your growth and your leadership.”
Kosar said Keenum “is an exceptional quarterback to have on your team.”
“There’s not doubt you like to have a veteran presence like him,” Kosar said of Keenum. “I’m not trying to cause or stir up any controversy, but we want Baker Mayfield to be our starting quarterback and to flourish within it.
“If God forbid injuries or something happens, Case Keenum is more than talented enough quarterback to win NFL football games and try to break this playoff drought that the Browns have had for multiple decades.”
The Browns have the longest active playoff drought in the NFL, having last made the postseason in 2002.