Welcome to sports take workshop, where opinions are half-assed because there’s not enough evidence to fully support the spice. Today the focus is Baker Mayfield. The new Los Angeles Rams QB was cut by Carolina on Monday, claimed off waivers by the Rams on Tuesday, and came off the bench to lead L.A. to a comeback win Thursday.
Who knows how much of Sean McVay’s scheme Mayfield has memorized, or whether he was utilizing muscle memory on the 98-yard drive that completed the second-half comeback and sent the Las Vegas Raiders back into a death spiral, but the Raiders had a 96.7 percent win probability when L.A. took the field down six with the ball and less than two minutes remaining.
Eighty of his 230 passing yards and his only touchdown throw came on that final drive, with the rest of the yards via Vegas coming via penalties. Derek Carr, who’s been the Raider starting quarterback for the better part of a decade, finished with 137 yards in the air and two interceptions.
My take isn’t who’s better: Carr or Mayfield? It’s, do we know definitively that Baker is a shitty QB? The most success he’s had was in college playing for Lincoln Riley. However, he didn’t exactly light the Big 12 on fire in his freshman season at Texas Tech under Kliff Kingsbury.
Ditto for his stops in Cleveland and Carolina since being drafted No. 1 overall. His coaches at those two stops were Hue Jackson, Freddie Kitchens, Kevin Stefanski, Matt Rhule, and Steve Wilks. Three of those coaches have been fired, one is an interim, and the other is Stefanski, whose highest scoring season with the Browns was 2020 when they finished 14th in points per game.
Prior to this injury season from hell, Sean McVay teams finished first, second, 11th, 22nd, and seventh in scoring offense with the likes of Jared Goff and Matthew Stafford under center. He’s shown an ability to get the best out of seriously flawed signal callers.
I know it’s only been one game, and Stafford is in year one of a $160 million, four-year contract. I’m just saying Riley is one of, if not the best, coaches in college football at developing quarterbacks. Caleb Williams should be his third Heisman winner of the past five QBs he’s coached, and he also turned Jalen Hurts into a second-round pick. So if he could turn Mayfield from a walk-on into a Heisman winner, couldn’t McVay do something similar with a quarterback who’s shown flashes at the pro level?
Under the right tutelage, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say Mayfield could still be a successful NFL player. He had above-average seasons two of his four years in Cleveland, and the Browns are literally the worst team of the past two decades at developing quarterbacks.
We know playing the position is just as much about vision and confidence as it is about arm strength. Mayfield came off the street and won a game basically on instinct, and I don’t think that’ll be lost on a coach like McVay.
With Stafford likely done for the season and the team 4-9, the next four games are essentially an audition for Mayfield. He’s only 27 and has plenty of football left in him. Put him in the right situation with the right coach, and who knows. I’m unsure if this current depleted Rams roster is ideal for any QB, but maybe he and those Progressive ads can make a comeback with a little McVay makeover.