CLEVELAND — Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield is a fierce competitor who never shies away from a challenge, not especially when he knows an opponent.
When the Browns take the field against the Arizona Cardinals at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona Sunday, Mayfield will see someone he was very close with on the opposite sideline, former University of Oklahoma teammate Kyler Murray, who like Cleveland’s quarterback, finds himself at the controls of an offense during his rookie season.
“Anytime you see a familiar face within competition, it makes it something you want to strive to have a little bragging rights over, something to enjoy it, just have more fun,” Mayfield said during his weekly pregame press conference.
“It’s real bragging rights. Being in the same quarterback room for a few years, and just razzing each other back and forth, it’s going to be a fun one.”
Although the Cardinals have a 3-9-1 record this season and are in the basement of the NFC West Division, it has been a record-setting season for Murray.
Through only 13 games, Murray has registered franchise rookie records for passing yards (3,060) touchdown passes (16), completions (293), attempts (457) and games with multiple touchdown throws (seven).
Also, Murray has rushed for 448 yards and four touchdowns, which are rookie quarterback records in Arizona. Murray and Baltimore’s Lamar Jackson are the only quarterbacks this year to lead their teams in rushing.
“Kyler’s just a phenomenal athlete,” Mayfield said. “He’s one of a kind. After being around him for a few years in practice, watching him tear it up on scout team, and then, play, he is who he is. That’s a special player. Very few people…he’s the only one to ever be drafted in the first round in baseball and football. There’s very few athletes like him, physically capable of doing what he’s able to do.
“His arm talent alone is very special, the things he’s able to do. When he throws the ball, it comes out of his hand different, and when you see it in person, you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Obviously, his speed is next level. He’s very quick. You try to tackle him in a phone booth, so he’s a tough guy to defend.”
Murray is closing in on several other records, both franchise marks and league-best showings.
Murray is 53 yards away from equaling the Cardinals’ record for much rushing yards by a quarterback in a single season, a mark that was set by Charley Trippi in 1951. With 300-yard passing games over the last three weeks of the season, Murray would break Andrew Luck’s record for the most in a rookie season.
“He is seeing the field well, and he is brave from the standpoint of he likes to fit balls in tight windows and things like that,” Browns coach Freddie Kitchens said. “He kind of plays fearless, and that is the trait of good quarterbacks -- smart but fearless -- and I think he does a good job of that.”
Cardinals coach Kliff Kingsbury added, “He has a dynamic skillset to start. Very competitive, but his ability to be a really, really accurate passer and to have the ability to extend plays with his feet and make plays with his feet is unique. I have said since he got here, with that skill set, the sky is the limit.”