Baker Mayfield turns into Capt. Checkdown on biggest drive vs Chargers

Baker Mayfield (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Baker Mayfield (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

Baker Mayfield was THE focus of the practice week as the Cleveland Browns prepared to play the LA Chargers.

We all became orthopedic surgeons, specializing in partial tears to non-throwing shoulders.

But when Browns and Chargers actually played the darn thing, Mayfield and the offense were rolling, putting up drive after drive, point after point, going toe-to-toe with the NFL’s next darling, Justin Herbert and the Chargers.

Yet for as good as Baker was, the other franchise quarterback outplayed the Browns’ former No. 1 overall pick.

Herbert made play after play, especially in the fourth quarter. With the football world watching to see if Mayfield could match him in the final stanza, with the money on the line, Cleveland’s quarterback stalled yet again.

The two big drives that stick out include the Browns final two possessions.

Mayfield got the ball with 3:02 reaming in the fourth. This wasn’t entirely on the quarterback, as Stefanski’s play calling abilities choked. When two first downs would’ve won the game, Stefanski ran a halfback delay on 3rd and 9. The rush that went for three years. Unfortunately, the Browns needed nine. Yeesh.

Baker Mayfield turns into Captain check down.

Mayfield got the ball back with 1:31 remaining after Cleveland let LA score a touchdown on purpose. It wasn’t a ton of time, but with the score sitting at 47-42,  it was enough–and we all wanted to see if Mayfield would answer the bell.

In these types of situations,  good teams find a way to pick up chunks of yards in the middle of the field. You can run to the line and spike the ball if you pick up 20 yards. No bigs.

However, Mayfield’s first three completions went for 6, 3, and 2 yards, respectively. It took 50 precious ticks to gain a measly 11 yards.

He then completed a 10-yard pass to David Njoku, which advanced the ball to the Cleveland 46. It’d be the last completion of the day.

He didn’t try to push the ball downfield all game until the desperate attempts in the final 20 seconds. With the money on the line, the guy we all want to be Tom Brady turned into Captain Checkdown.

OK, it’s all relative when taking the macro view of Mayfield’s performance. He obviously played well, throwing 305 yards and two touchdowns. The offense scored 42. But just like when he goes up against Lamar Jackson and Patrick Mahomes, when the clock struck zero, Mayfield was on the losing side.

It’s a deal worth watching because Mayfield’s playing for an extension and the Browns are going to have to decide if they’re going to pay $40 million annually to the QB.

And after watching the this game, who would you rather dole out that money to if you had your choice?

It’s still early and the Browns will get back to their winning ways. They’re too talented a squad to go on a slide. Hopefully these games are building blocks for Mayfield so when the playoffs roll around, and if the Browns are there, the results shake out Cleveland’s way.

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Before putting a bow on this one, I think it’s worth addressing the CBS graphic which stated Mayfield has seven come-from-behind victories. Beating Joe Burrow and Josh Allen (before he became the Josh Allen he is now) is one thing, knocking down Mahomes, Jackson and now Hertbert, is another.