CHARLOTTE, NC — Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield is considered short by timber standards for his position. Mayfield is listed at 6’1, but at the 2018 NFL combine was officially 6 feet 5/8 inches.
But he wasn’t short on jokes Wednesday when asked what he can do to avoid having four passes batted at the line of scrimmage, as he did in Sunday’s 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns.
“Well, tip the table a little bit, stretch out, get taller … thanks mom and dad,” Mayfield said desperately.
Seriously, this is a problem.
Mayfield has had nine passes batted down at the line in his last two starts. He had five strikeouts by the Pittsburgh Steelers in his last start for the Browns in January before sitting out the season finale.
His 48 passes batted at the line are the most in the NFL since Cleveland made him the top pick of the 2018 draft. Next up is Indianapolis Matt Ryan.
Ryan is 6’4″, so maybe height isn’t the issue in a league where the average for quarterbacks is 6’3″.
However, on a per-pass level, Mayfield’s 2.46 percent pass batted down rate is the second-highest rate in the league among the 30 quarterbacks who have attempted at least 1,000 passes since 2018. The only quarterback with a higher percentage during that span is 6’5″ Cam Newton at 2.56 percent.
“You have to find windows,” Mayfield said. “I know how those guys prepare in that building. [in Cleveland]as they see the footwork they stop and raise their hands up.
“It’s also maybe being on the same page with our O-line. Keeping your head down, finding windows, because every now and then things are going to happen and I’m going to have to find a way.”
That was pretty much what coach Matt Rhule suggested had to happen before Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.
“Our line had to do a great job of driving out, making sure the pocket was a really solid pocket,” he said. “That’s a huge challenge this week. Baker has to skate great, find windows when they’re open.
“As the game went on we got more comfortable. One of them even happened to be naked [bootleg]. We feel very good about the direction Baker and the offensive line, that relationship they have in the pocket goes together. We just need to improve technically.”
Since Mayfield won’t step up, they will have to.