Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is not the typical NFL rookie, not in any way, shape, form or fashion.
Not one to hold back on sharing his opinions or to dwell too long on mistakes, Mayfield has learned that instead of staring down open receivers and giving opposing defenses clues as to where he is going with the ball, spreading around his passes will lead to more success.
“Spreading the wealth out so that teams can’t key in on a couple of guys is very important,” Mayfield said earlier this week. “What Freddie (Kitchens) has been able to do is spread people out and create those mismatches and create those open guys.
“It is a combination of both, but the most important thing is that our receivers are doing the right things and creating those open lanes and routes for themselves. It comes down to winning your one-on-ones, and our guys are doing that right now.”
In Sunday’s 26-20 win over the Carolina Panthers, Mayfield completed passes to eight different players. That showing marked the seventh time in nine starts and fifth straight game in which Mayfield completed passes to at least eight players.
Wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Breshad Perriman led the way for the Browns in the win over the Panthers, as Landry caught three passes for 57 yards, including a 51-yard touchdown, and Perriman hauled in two throws for 81 yards, including a game-high 66-yard reception on the Browns’ first play from scrimmage.
“To see those (catches), it builds trust,” Mayfield said. “Next time, I am trusting those same guys to make plays.”
Mayfield and the Browns literally came out firing against the Panthers.
On first-and-10 from the Cleveland 25-yard line, Mayfield took a snap under center, faked a handoff to running back Nick Chubb and rocketed the ball down the numbers on the left side of the field, where Perriman had gotten behind the coverage of Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson.
Perriman secured the catch at the Carolina 19-yard line and stumbled his way to another 10 yards before being brought down inside the 10.
Two plays later, Landry ran in for the touchdown from three yards out.
“Anytime that you have a guy that can stretch the field like that, it presents a whole other ball game,” Mayfield said. “It stretches the defense, and obviously, it creates that in the back of their mind. They are thinking, ‘We have to cover the deep ball.’ That allows the underneath stuff to work, and obviously, the run game, too.”
Mayfield was far from done testing the Panthers’ secondary.
With the Browns facing a third-and-17 from the Cleveland 49-yard line midway through the second quarter, Mayfield avoided a rush from the Panthers and muscled a throw deep down the left side of the field for Landry, and despite two defenders closing on him, the veteran pass catcher hauled in his third receiving score of the season.
“Unbelievable catch in traffic,” Mayfield said. “Guys are all over him, around him. To be able to have strong hands is what we have been able to see throughout the year with him is to fight through and make those competitive catches.
“That is what he is paid to do, and he does it on a consistent level. It is fun to watch. When he makes those plays, it is pretty special.”