CLEVELAND — The disappointment that was the 2021 Cleveland Browns season has come to a close. Now, it's time to look ahead.
Welcome to "The 5th Quarter," your recap of the Cleveland Browns hosted by Jay Crawford and Dave 'Dino' DeNatale.
In our season finale of The 5th Quarter, Jay laid out a blueprint for the Browns to turn things around in 2022 in five parts. Let's take a look:
1. The Browns need to win their season finale.
Done and done. Cleveland defeated Cincinnati on Sunday by the final of 21-16 at FirstEnergy Stadium. It wasn't pretty and the Bengals did rest many of their key players, including quarterback Joe Burrow, but the Browns at least can head to the offseason in a bit better frame of mind.
2. Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski needs to give up his offensive play-calling duties
This one might not come to fruition. Stefanski is a proud man who came to the Browns largely because of his success as the Minnesota Vikings' play-caller. But the Browns offense took a major step back this season and it wasn't just because of injuries or COVID-19. The coach and the organization needs to take a deep look into its offensive philosophy moving forward.
3. Stefanski and Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield need to get together and patch up their differences
In Jay's words, the Browns head coach and signal-caller 'need to go on a fishing trip alone together.' According to the NFL Network's Ian Rappoport and Tom Pelissero, the Browns are planning to move forward with Mayfield as their starting QB, with the parties on the same page heading into the offseason. Of course, things can change. Jay believes that Mayfield's $19 million dollar salary in the final year of his contract makes it virtually impossible to trade or release the first overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft. So if he's staying, he and Stefanski need to clear the air and get back on the same page.
4. Mayfield needs to ignore social media
The Twitterverse erupted last week amid a report by Cleveland.com's Mary Kay Cabot detailing the divide between Mayfield and Stefanski. Sources told Cabot that Mayfield has been 'feeling like Stefanski’s playcalling didn’t always put him in position to succeed or play to his strengths.' The story also suggested that if the Browns fourth-year quarterback doesn't get reassurance that things will be different next year, he will consider asking for a trade.
Instead of letting it go, Mayfield erupted. "Clickbait. You and many other Cleveland local media continue to be drama stirring reporters with no sources or facts. Don’t put words in my mouth so you can put food on your table. I’m not your puppet."
This is not the first time that Mayfield has gotten into a social media rage with the media. He has feuded with Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd on countless occasions in the past.
"Block out the noise," Jay advised Baker. "Put cotton in your ears, stop reading the internet, and stay off Twitter and Instagram."
5. Win the offseason
The Browns front office has done a good job over the last couple of years of identifying needs in the offseason, then going out and filling them. They needed help in the secondary? They drafted Greg Newsome and signed John Johnson III. When they wanted to get Myles Garrett some pass rushing help on the defensive line, they snagged Jadeveon Clowney. If they can do that again, they'll put themselves again in position to be a playoff team, says Jay.
Check out Jay's column on the end of the Browns season here. You can watch the 5th Quarter in the player above or below.
More Browns Coverage:
- Cleveland Browns will pick 13th in 2022 NFL Draft
- David Njoku says he wants to re-sign with Browns and finish career in Cleveland
- Ending on a high note: Cleveland Browns finish season with 21-16 win over Cincinnati Bengals
- JIMMY'S TAKE: Cleveland Browns 'could never break through' in close games this year, and that's why their season is over
- Cleveland Browns' opponents for 2022 schedule revealed