BEREA, Ohio — First-year Cleveland Browns coach Freddie Kitchens has no shortage of things for the team to work on in practice after Monday night’s 31-3 loss at the San Francisco 49ers, but building up the confidence of his quarterback, Baker Mayfield, is not one of them.
Heading into Sunday’s game against the Seattle Seahawks at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, Kitchens believes his quarterback is plenty confident in his own abilities to get the offense moving in the right direction.
“I think he’s fine confidence-wise,” Kitchens said in his pre-practice press conference Wednesday. “I don’t think you have to worry about that, but success breeds more confidence, and we always want more confidence.”
Mayfield comes into Sunday’s game against the Seahawks after a struggle-filled performance against the 49ers.
Mayfield completed only eight of his 22 attempts for 100 yards with two interceptions, the second of which came on a deflection on a pass that hit wide receiver Antonio Callaway both in the hands and the chest before former Browns defensive back K’Waun Williams corralled the takeaway and returned the ball to the Cleveland 49-yard line.
Also, Mayfield had two fumbles, one of which the 49ers recovered, and was sacked four times for 42 lost yards, two of which were registered by former Ohio State Buckeyes standout Nick Bosa.
“It’s an ongoing process with all of our guys,” Kitchens said. “Just because you’re coming back for another year doesn’t mean you’re going to pick up where you left off. Everything changes. Everything’s different. Baker knows what he needs to work on. He’s doing a good job working on it. He’ll continue.”
On the season, Mayfield has completed 90 of his 161 pass attempts (55.9 percent) for 1,247 yards and four touchdowns against eight interceptions. Also, Mayfield has been sacked 16 times for 128 lost yards and lost one fumble.
Nowhere has Mayfield’s struggles been more glaring than in the red zone, where he is completing passes at a 25 percent clip, but Kitchens believes the issue goes deeper than his quarterback’s play.
“When you start talking about that, you can’t just say, ‘It’s the quarterback,’” Kitchens said. “ Everybody’s involved.
“I think we were more efficient last year, but that was last year. You don’t pick up where you left off. Our guys are committed to getting better. This is not a finished product in any stretch of the imagination. Red zone, short yardage, third down, anything, it’s not a finished product. We’re going to continue to get better.”
Kitchens reiterated again Wednesday just as he has throughout the season that the Browns will find success, not only with improvement from Mayfield, but through better play out of the entire team.
“Everybody around the quarterback needs to play better, everybody around the quarterback needs to coach better, and the quarterback needs to play better,” Kitchens said.
“I don’t know what’s going on, on the outside, but everybody in our building is taking ownership of what we put on the field the other night, and everybody’s committed to getting better from that. That’s everybody. Every position, every coach, everybody that was on our plane is committed to getting better, so that’s where we’re at.”