Is Baker Mayfield actually good? By Rhys Knott

Is Baker Mayfield actually good? By Rhys Knott
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Is Baker Mayfield actually good?

So is the Rams newest addition, Baker Mayfield actually good? He certainly had the dream start on Thursday Night Football. If you’ve seen his insurance adverts there’s no way you would argue that he’s not a born star. But can he actually play football at the level you need from a starting quarterback?

They say numbers never lie. However numbers alone without context can often be misleading. Before Mayfield led the Rams to a victory in the dying seconds on Thursday night his quarterback rating was 86.5. Which is exactly the same as Mitch Trubisky and better than Brett Favre and Dan Marino. So by that measure, he’d certainly be better than a backup.

His completion rate of 61.2% is better than Cam Newton’s, Eli Manning’s and Matt Hasselbeck’s. Who were all successful starting quarterbacks who played in the NFL for a decade or more. Mayfield’s interception rate (2.9%) is the same as both Matt Hasselbeck and Marc Bulger. Who both made multiple Pro Bowls. Joe Namath, Carson Wentz and Jay Cutler all have the same touchdown rate as Mayfield’s 4.6%. Which is better than Matt Ryan, Jim Plunkett and Eli Manning. And they have all played in Super Bowls. In fact two of them have been Super Bowl MVP. There’s nothing in Mayfield’s statistics to suggest that he shouldn’t be a starting quarterback in the NFL.

Context in Cleveland

That’s what the numbers say, but what about the context? Firstly, Mayfield has only been in the league since 2018. Meaning there’s plenty of time to improve those numbers even more. The environment around a quarterback plays a huge role in how successful they are too. This season alone Mayfield has worked with three different Head Coaches and two Offensive Coordinators. According to a Sports Illustrated article from January Baker had worked with three different Offensive Coordinators during his four seasons in Cleveland. Not forgettig too, the Browns are a notoriously dysfunctional franchise regardless of wo is coaching there!

On the field in Cleveland, he wasn’t exactly blessed with riches around him. In 2018 Browns Wide Receivers only caught 16 touchdown passes between them, while in Green Bay Davante Adams alone caught 13. In that season the Browns leading receiver was Jarvis Landry with 81 receptions. Tight End David Njoku was second in the list with just 56. While backup Running Back Duke Johnson was third in terms of receptions with 47. Part of the reason Browns receivers weren’t especially effective in the redzone was that Nick Chubb scored eight rushing touchdowns. But he also caught two touchdown passes.

A bigger factor in 2018 was the Browns were second in the league in the dropped pass percentage statistic in the NFL. That’s according to Jeff Risdon of USA Today’s Brownswire. In November of 2018 he then reported the team led the NFL in drops through week 9 of that season too. With 6.3% of passes dropped by the intended receiver.

Mayfield’s most successful season in Cleveland was 2020. When unsurprisingly the pass catching had noticeably improved. So much so that on the 2nd of November it was noted that their five drops against the Raiders were the most since week 6 of 2018.

2020 was Kevin Stefanski’s first season as Browns Head Coach. And Alex van Pelt’s first season as Offensive Coordinator. So hopes were high for a sustained period of success after such a good start. Then in 2021 Mayfield suffered a shoulder injury that caused him to miss three games and affected the team’s momentum. 2021 was also the season when the Browns decided to release Odell Beckham. Who promptly signed with the Rams and won the Super Bowl (whilst blowing out his knee). Which saw Cleveleand once again living up to the reputation as a notoriously dysfunctional franchise.

Adventures in Carolina

It was the Browns owner’s pursuit of serial sexual abuser Deshaun Watson that led Mayfield to demand a trade that landed him in Carolina.

It was announced Mayfield had suffered a high ankle sprain against the 49ers in week 5 this year. Merely hours earlier it was announced that Carolina had fired Head Coach Matt Rhule. Steve Wilkes became the interim head coach. Mayfield returned from his injury and in week 9 and promptly threw two touchdowns. Ending with a 70% completion rate. That after PJ Walker had started the game 3 for 10.

The following week Mayfield started again against a tough Ravens team. He threw two interceptions and was sacked four times as the Panthers suffered a 3-13 loss. That result led to Steve Wilkes deciding that a 1-5 start to the season was enough to relegate Mayfield to third choice Quarterback. Ironically when Rams Rival 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a season ending injury Mayfield decided his future lay outside Carolina. He asked to be released from his contract and the rest, as they say, is history.

Landing in LA

Sean McVay took a team quarterbacked by Jared Goff to a Super Bowl. Hence in the short term it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Thursday night’s win was the beginning of a highly unlikely Rams playoff run.

In the long-term Mayfield will be a starter in the NFL for a few seasons yet. But if Matthew Stafford decides to return to the Rams next season it won’t be in Los Angeles.

If you enjoyed this article you can find more from Rhys Knott here.

Banner Image: Baker Mayfield with the Rams. Image from

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