BALTIMORE — Editor's note: the video in the player above is from a previous story.
Bye weeks in the NFL can often be a time for change. But when it comes to the Cleveland Browns, any changes they make over the course of the next week won't include the benching of Baker Mayfield.
Speaking to reporters following his team's 16-10 loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday, Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski was asked about the possibility of making a change at quarterback in the weeks ahead. In answering, Stefanski made it clear that he's sticking with Mayfield, who has struggled throughout the first 12 weeks of the 2021 season.
"Let me ask you a question, why would we do that?" Stefanski replied to the reporter. "No, we're not doing that."
Stefanski's response came after a game in which Mayfield completed 18 of his 37 pass attempts for 247 yards and one touchdown and lost one fumble as Cleveland lost to Baltimore despite intercepting Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson four times. Having suffered a torn labrum and fractured bone in his left shoulder, as well as injuries to his left foot and right knee this season, Mayfield has been dealing with injuries dating back to the Browns' Week 2 win over the Houston Texans and was noticeably limping during at times on Sunday.
Coincidentally or not, the Oklahoma product's injuries have come at a time that Cleveland's offense has struggled to find consistency. Sunday's loss to the Ravens marked the sixth time in the last seven games the Browns have scored 17 or fewer points, with Cleveland having scored 13 or fewer points in each of its last three contests.
Yet despite admitting that he's as beat up as he's ever been, the No. 1 pick of the 2018 NFL Draft has largely played through his injuries, with the lone exception being backup Case Keenum starting in Cleveland's Week 7 win over the Denver Broncos. But while Stefanski said earlier this week that Mayfield wouldn't play if his injuries were holding back the offense, it doesn't appear the Browns' second-year head coach believes he's reached that point, as the 26-year-old signal-caller remains in line to start when Cleveland returns to action to host the Ravens on Dec. 12.
"We will always defer to the medical staff and making sure that a guy is ready to go," Stefanski said last week. "Obviously, you have discussions with the players in that same vein. We won’t put guys out there who cannot protect themselves. To say that Baker is not battling -- I think you all know that -- but he is ready to play and ready to help the team win, but we will always have those conversations week to week."