Baker Mayfield will be given every opportunity to start in Los Angeles. Since his entry into the National Football League, Mayfield has worn a tremendous amount of pressure.
As the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Cleveland Browns looked poised to break their decades-long quarterback curse. Mayfield and the Browns peaked in 2020 with an 11-5 regular season record, losing in the divisional round playoffs.
Baker Mayfield was often the target of heavy criticism for the Browns’ lack of success. This is not uncommon for the quarterback position, but for what looked to be the key to unlocking Cleveland’s mostly ineffective history, things turned quickly. Baker dealt with countless injuries, but what did him in was wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr’s father’s mix tape, detailing poor play from Mayfield, only fueling the narrative that Mayfield was the issue.
Mayfield was traded during the 2021 offseason to the Carolina Panthers and replaced in Cleveland by the accused sexual abuser, Deshawn Watson. A long fall for Mayfield from what once looked like a promising career. Adding insult to injury, the Browns rewarded Watson with the largest guaranteed contract in NFL history. Certainly, a kick to the chops for Baker.
Baker has spent most of the last two seasons being questioned, ridiculed, and undervalued by star quarterback standards. But with lofty expectations comes intense pressure. Baker has not performed at the clip required to be a star in this league. He has been considered a fringe starter, more so a backup QB. That all changed last night against the Las Vegas Raiders.
We should be careful not to get too excited about one show. With that said, it was a solid performance by Mayfield. Not only did he lead a dead Los Angeles Rams team back from the depths to victory, but he also did so on short notice, with minimal prep time on Prime-Time television.
Baker was not without fault; however, we should have expected that. Baker did not even have 48 hours with the team. He skipped a few throws and overthrew a few others, but otherwise, he was on the money. Including leading the team to a touchdown to make the game competitive, followed by a 2-point conversion, and the game-winning touchdown on a 98-yard drive, culminating in a perfect pass to Van Jefferson.
You could not have written a better first chapter, but what does the rest of the story look like? Again, excitement should be tamed until we get a larger sample size.
Baker Mayfield’s Career Stats
There are worst numbers from other starting quarterbacks, but Baker has shown signs of a decline. Carolina was a jumble of scattered pieces, and Baker’s opportunities were limited.
The difference in this go-round may be coaching. Los Angeles Rams’ Head Coach, Sean McVay is one of the best coaching minds in the NFL. His football IQ, positive outlook, and genuine enthusiasm are clear and present. The danger is getting too involved and assuming Baker Mayfield is better than a healthy Matthew Stafford. Stafford has struggled in 2022, but he is still better than Mayfield.
Unfortunately, but maybe to Baker’s benefit, there are rumors that Matthew Stafford may miss the entire 2023 season.
Stafford signed a 4-year contract with the Rams after their Super Bowl LVI Win, meaning he is not a free agent until 2027. This would allow Baker Mayfield plenty of time to win the starting job, and, never let it go. When Cooper Kupp returns, and the Rams deploy a capable running back, things will get easier for Baker.
No matter what happens now, that was a game for the ages, and certainly one Baker will never forget. Once Mayfield learns the playbook, he may take off, and regain his 2020 form that put him in the MVP conversation. Worst case scenario, Baker has five games to audition for his next role.
The Rams remaining schedule:
|WEEK||DATE||OPPONENT||PASS YARDS ALLOWED RANK|
|15||12/19||Green Bay Packers||5TH|
|17||1/1||Los Angeles Chargers||19th|