How new Browns regime hopes to get Baker Mayfield back on track

What are the expectations for Mayfield in his third NFL season? (2:05)

Jeff Darlington and Jeff Saturday break down what to expect from Baker Mayfield and the Browns next season with a new coaching staff. (2:05)

BEREA, Ohio -- The new Cleveland Browns coaching staff believes it can help quarterback Baker Mayfield rediscover his footing going into a pivotal third season.

That includes helping him improve his footwork.

"The feet never lie," Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt, a longtime NFL quarterbacks coach, said last month. "It all starts with the feet."

Mayfield struggled for an array of reasons last season as the Browns stumbled to a 6-10 finish. Porous blindside pass protection. Inconsistent route running. Discombobulated offensive identity. Yet alongside all of that, Mayfield simply didn't play well, either. He forced throws to finish with 21 interceptions, second most in the NFL. He lost his touch, as his completion rate plummeted to 59%, also second worst in the league. His previously patented decisiveness waned. Curiously, he even developed new bad habits, such as drifting right out of the pocket, even when the protection was sound.

To begin to correct all of that, Van Pelt and new head coach Kevin Stefanski are pointing to Mayfield's feet.

"There will probably be a change in the footwork," Van Pelt said. "I have a belief and a philosophy of footwork, and it's extremely important to me and Kevin as well. They get you through your progressions."

One subtle change Van Pelt has already recommended to Mayfield is changing his lead foot out of shotgun. Dating back to when he was at Oklahoma, Mayfield had always placed his right foot forward. Van Pelt wants Mayfield to switch and put his left foot forward.

"In my opinion it helps in the three-step game, the quick game," Van Pelt said. "There's more rhythm and it's not as robotic. It's more fluid. I've always used the term that I want the feet to be like Mozart and not like Metallica."

Getting Mayfield back into the rhythm he carried as a rookie in 2018 will be paramount as the Browns look to bounce back from being one of the NFL's biggest disappointments last season.

After only the first couple days of watching Mayfield on film, Stefanski noted that he'd already found additional ways the new coaching staff could help the quarterback, beyond just honing fundamentals and footwork. That includes calling more play-action, which the Browns seem well equipped for with Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb, to take pressure off Mayfield and open up favorable matchups downfield. To complement that, Stefanski wants to get Mayfield outside of the pocket on called rollouts more frequently, to allow his natural playmaking skills to take over.

"I think Baker is a talented player. I think we're going to give him some opportunities to improve, and how we play," Stefanski said last week during the scouting combine. "The ability to make off-schedule plays ... I think Baker has that tool, as well."

Van Pelt said that showed watching Mayfield at Oklahoma.

"The biggest thing that stood out probably on the tape was his accuracy on the move outside of the pocket when he had to create and escape, whether it be the play-action pass game and he's keeping the ball or he's breaking contain from a pass rush and then throwing the ball accurately down the field at all levels," said Van Pelt, who was Aaron Rodgers' position coach in Green Bay.

"I loved him coming out of college. Most of the great quarterbacks I've had the chance to be around were extremely competitive to a point where they would try to beat you at darts or pool -- it did not matter. I love the fire and the passion in his game. That's exciting. Obviously, he has the skill set, the talent, the arm, throwing the ball on the move, to escape pressure and all of those things. I think the future is bright."

That is, if Mayfield can rekindle his magical rookie season under this staff. And find the path back to becoming Cleveland's franchise quarterback.

"It's our job as an offensive staff to help him and make him successful," Van Pelt said. "Everything starts around the quarterback on the offensive side of the ball. We have to put him in the best position for him to have success, and that will make us all better."