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Coach ‘Em Up: An Open Letter to Baker Mayfield

 

Editor’s note: Marc Trestman, a longtime NFL offensive coordinator, has turned around the careers of several quarterbacks, including The 33rd Team’s Rich Gannon, who won league MVP honors in 2002 under Trestman’s guidance. In a regular feature this season, Trestman offers advice to quarterbacks facing challenges.

 

Dear Baker Mayfield,

You have been through a lot in the past year — dealing with a shoulder injury, which obviously affected your ability to throw accurately; the Browns’ acquisition of a new quarterback; and your subsequent late off-season move to Carolina with no promises, but an opportunity to re-start your career.

No doubt, there has been hype, heartache, speculation and introspection.

But that is now behind you, and here you are, opening week of the 2022 NFL season facing the team you called your own for the last four years. In the time that remains before kickoff, I offer you some unsolicited thoughts and advice.

For the first 58 minutes of Sunday’s game, you don’t have to win it by yourself. For 58 minutes, simply go out and “manage” the game.

By kickoff, I hope no matter what you have heard or read, you are of the mindset not to make this game personal. This will calm you and keep you focused on the most important things: protecting the ball, managing situational football, staying focused on each play and executing with great fundamentals. This, respectfully and without exception, is key to your team’s success. I saw this demeanor and execution during my summer visit to Foxboro in your joint practices with the Patriots.

 

Baker, I am hopeful you will play the game the way coach Matt Rhule and offensive coordinator Bob McAdoo want you to play. I have no doubt they have spent time with you to reinforce your role in the offense for Game 1. As you know, the offense is only one phase of a three-part game. I would respectfully suggest that you make continuity football a high priority. 

Last season with the Browns, I saw you make some dynamic throws and do a great job of extending plays for positive yards, but unfortunately, there were plays that also resulted in poor decision-making and reckless throws. 

During the course of year, I have no doubt you were limited because of shoulder issues, and you tried courageously to play through it. But there were passes thrown with unsound footwork and passing fundamentals, causing you to be off-target. At times, you simply tried to get more out plays to make something good happen. These are the types of plays you must avoid.

On Sunday against Cleveland, give your teammates a chance to help you make plays by managing the game and not trying to do too much. You are surrounded by enough talent to get the job done, but you must give your teammates, in all phases, the opportunity to help you. 

With all due respect and because I think you are a very good player, if your mindset is making the plays about you (and all that entails) against an outstanding Browns defense, you may not have the opportunity in the game’s final 2 minutes to lead your Panthers to a win. But if you make it about your new team and manage it like your coaches have prepared you to do, good things will happen. This is where your magic and intangibles will flourish.

Baker, go and have fun and enjoy the moment.

With respect and humility,

Coach Marc Trestman

 

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