March 3, 2024

Running The Offense: Dr. Jekyll or Mr. Hyde?


I rewatched the Browns vs Packers game on Sunday morning with a particular look at Baker Mayfield”s first-half production from a technical point of view. I came to the conclusion that Mayfield was very inconsistent in the game which is an apt description of his season thus far. His opening drive was maybe some of his best work on the day. He completed two short, crisp, quick slants on the drive both to Jarvis Landry. His feet were set, his body pointed at his target and the ball came out on time on both. His body angles were upright and perpendicular. Also on the screen to Chubb, his timing was perfect looking away until the last second when he set his body directly on Chubb. Well done and the result was an efficient drive that produced a touchdown.

On the ensuing possession from the eight-yard line on the first play, he dropped back into his end zone, locked onto his first read and threw deep down the middle to Peoples-Jones. His receiver was double covered tightly and the ball was intercepted. To his defense, one can argue that Peoples-Jones was held briefly on the play which may have interrupted the timing. But the point is that he locked onto his first read and never went to his progressions. It can be regarded as that was as good as a punt. However, he did have Higgins open underneath at about the 30-yard line.

First pass on the next possession he threw behind Landry on a slant to the left side of the formation. Mayfield’s lower body was torqued to the left, he released the ball late and the result was a throw behind Jarvis. The inconsistency begins. Two throws later and a perfect slant to Peoples-Jones. Feet were set correctly, he aimed at the target and the ball was on perfect time. Then rolling to his right a nice throw to Higgins for eight yards. After a sack losing eight yards he threw late and wide to Higgins in the right flat. Pass incomplete thrown off his back foot and low. The next play he dropped straight back and leaning backwards causing his release point to be early and high threw high to Landry resulting in an interception in the red zone, perhaps his most costly mistake of the game. No points from the red zone and a turnover.

After a Green Bay touchdown, he had a nice throw on a rollout to the right to Hooper then a relatively well-thrown ball to Landry albeit a bit high possibly costing some yards after the catch. A completion on a high throw to Higgins to the one and then a rollout to the right and touchdown catch by Bryant. Mayfield seems to be throwing his best when rolling to the right, aiming directly at his target with his momentum moving forward and releasing the ball on time.

On the next drive after a Chubb screen, a holding penalty on Njoku and a Johnson run, he dropped straight back, planted his feet, faced his target and hit Higgins for a sixteen-yard first down. So far so good. After the two-minute warning, Baker rolled to his left and without stopping, planting his feet or facing his target, he threw again leaning backward late to Landry. Landry was open earlier on the play and by the time Baker threw it, late and without much on it, Landry tried to stop and come back for the ball and slipped and the ball was picked off. Green Bay scored again and took a 21-12 lead into the half.

Baker was very inconsistent in the first half, doing some good things mechanically and at other times some bad things. His mechanics were not consistent. Considering that he is in his fourth year as a pro and second year in this system, I expect more from him.

The second half was more of the same, some good things and some not good culminating in the interception on the last drive of the game. Elite quarterbacks mount game-winning last-minute drives to win games and Mayfield has not shown the consistency this year to be in that category.

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