Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield has taken plenty of hits, legal and otherwise, since taking over the reins of the offense during the second quarter of a 21-17 win over the New York Jets at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland on September 20.
And since that point, Mayfield has continued to impress, both within the organization and externally, because of his physical and mental endurance.
“Number one, I really see his toughness,” Atlanta Falcons coach Dan Quinn said of Mayfield. “Standing there, no flinch on the throws, taking shots and scrambling to go for a first down.
As the Falcons broke down film of Mayfield in the lead-up to Sunday’s game against the Browns in Cleveland, Quinn saw toughness…and a whole lot more in the Browns’ first-year signal-caller.
“He has real confidence and accuracy to throw into tight windows. It might be man-to-man coverage, so the ball has to be at such a precise location and I have seen him do a good job with that,” Quinn said. “He throws a good deep ball, too. They are able to take their shots based on the speed.
“The last piece is his release. He has quickness, so when a guy is bearing down on him or he has to get out of trouble, it is not any long, drawn-out throws. He has a really quick release. So the toughness, the accuracy and the quick release, those are things that jumped out to me right away.”
Quinn has been impressed with Mayfield’s abilities, but also, how his skills work in tandem with those of rookie running back Nick Chubb, whose flashes of potential in limited duty early in the season led to the Browns parting ways with veteran Carlos Hyde in a trade to the Jacksonville Jaguars in October.
“He is tough,” Quinn said of Chubb. “We loved him here because of his style, his attitude and what he stands for as a player. It is the yards after contact and some people may have questioned how do the big backs do when they get in the NFL. Are they able to still get yards after contact like they did in college? And the answer to that question, in his case, is absolutely.
“You see him breaking tackles and doing all of the things that make him, him. Another way that I think they are featuring a player and doing what he does best. That is part of what we do as coaches – find traits of a guy and then, put them in spots where they are able to do that. It is pretty easy to see how they feature Baker and Nick and how they work in all of the ways that they do it.”
Mayfield completed 159 of his 265 attempts (60 percent) for 1,768 yards and 10 touchdowns against seven interceptions despite being sacked 22 times for 154 lost yards through his first seven games at the professional level.
Additionally, Mayfield rushed for 91 yards on 15 carries, an average of 6.1 yards per attempt.
“I think he can beat people with his feet,” Quinn said. “He gets outside the pocket and creates on the run. That is the style that he plays with. It is good to see a player playing true to his style, and I think they understand exactly who he is, and you see the offense grow around that.”