The Cleveland Browns will most likely be looking for a new head coach. An extremely popular suggestion has been Oklahoma’s Lincoln RIley.
There’s a lot of talk about the replacement for Freddie Kitchens. It is almost a foregone conclusion that he will be gone after the season. A popular suggestion to replace Kitchens is Lincoln Riley. There has been no official interest from Riley to leave Oklahoma, but the connection between Riley and Baker Mayfield is why the suggestion exists. Even as attractive as Riley seems, the Cleveland Browns should look elsewhere.
This is not about the ability of Lincoln Riley. It is 100% about the perception of the players on the team outside of Baker Mayfield. Cleveland already hired a coach because of perceived chemistry with their quarterback. Going back to the well with the exact same process could cause issues in the locker room. The message it will send to everyone else in the locker room is that they do not matter and the only one who does is Mayfield.
Yes, the quarterback is the most important position on the team. Cleveland should find someone who can get the most out of Mayfield. Deciding to pick another coach who has a previous relationship with Baker Mayfield with zero NFL head coaching experience is a mistake. That’s part of the reason the Browns are in the situation they are in now.
The precedent that would be set by hiring another head coach because of the quarterback could potentially lead to dissent in the locker room. Other players on the Browns are certainly behind Baker Mayfield. The issue is that going down the same road could lead to that changing. Catering to a player that has clearly regressed is not a good way to operate. Questions about the future of Baker Mayfield’s ability as a quarterback have arisen this season. Mayfield has gone from clear franchise quarterback to questionable future in less than a season. If the Cleveland Browns want to set themselves up for future success regardless of the status of Baker Mayfield. Cleveland needs to find a head coach that is not currently coaching the Oklahoma Sooners.