6 Things Panthers Fans Should Know About Baker Mayfield

Number 1. When you look at Baker’s stats, you need to separate his games into OBJ-games and non-OBJ games. Here is an example of how to do it correctly: “A Tale of Two Mayfields.” Make sure to put the October 25, 2020 victory over the Bengals into the non-OBJ pile because OBJ was knocked out of that game early and did not record any stats. And Baker went wild shortly after OBJ was out of his hair.

When you isolate Baker from OBJ, you see eye-popping stats. Elite stats. Why OBJ’s presence discombobulated Baker is still a mystery, but unless the Panthers are foolish enough to sign OBJ they will likely be getting Elite Baker in September. And that, combined with his pal Rashard Higgins, should be a marvel to behold.

Number 2. Baker & Rashard Higgins are a dynamic duo. So much so that I wrote a blog titled: “12 Stats Where Rashard Higgins Beats Odell Beckham, Jr.” back in March of 2021. Panthers fans might be thinking of Higgins as a minor signing, but when he and Baker are on fleek, watch out! To me, seeing Baker & Higgins go to the same team is nothing short of miraculous. Of all the amazing stats the duo has put up, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to see them exceeded in Carolina.

Number 3. Baker played under terrible coaches in Cleveland. In 2019, Freddie Kitchens hired a crony as QB coach. Kevin Stefanski forced Baker to play with OBJ even after irrefutable statistics became widely known. ESPN published the stats in October of 2020. EVERYBODY KNEW that Baker & OBJ needed a no-fault divorce to go on and prosper individually – except Stefanski. Will the Panthers coaching staff do any better? I don’t know, but it will be hard to do worse. If you just let Baker throw the ball to Higgins a bunch, you should be fine.

Number 4. Kevin Stefanski may have permanently damaged Baker. By not pulling Baker off the field when it was blatantly obvious that he should do so, Stefanski set Baker up for failure and may have permanently damaged his confidence. Baker spoke about this on a podcast earlier this year. During the 2021 season, the Browns had one of the highest-paid back-up QBs in the league: Case Keenum. And Stefanski had coached Keenum before, at Minnesota back in 2017. So, there should have been no hesitation to put him in. But Stefanski kept Baker out there until he was smashed to pieces. I hope that Baker has regained his self-confidence, but we won’t know if he has until we see him on the field.

Number 5. One thing that might annoy you is that Baker never wants to give-up on a play. He hates to throw the ball away, and doesn’t even keep track of where his check-down is. He will scramble around seemingly forever trying to keep a play alive. While he is pretty slippery, and frequently eludes defenders, it’s enough to make you crazy. This is something I would like to see Panthers QB coach, Sean Ryan, have Baker work on.

Number 6. Baker Mayfield is fierce. I have no doubt that he is, as we speak, training like a Tasmanian Devil to extract revenge from the Cleveland Browns. If he & Higgins are starters, it should be quite a game. I might also add that Baker owns the Super Bowl Bengals. He has a 6-1 career record against them. The Browns & the Bengals are two of the tougher games on the Panthers’ schedule, and Baker has a good shot at taking both.

And finally, don’t listen to anybody in the Cleveland sports media who are nearly all infected with BDS – Baker Derangement Syndrome. The amount of frothing vitriol that has poured forth from these deranged individuals is mind-boggling. I had to unsubscribe most of my Browns podcasts because they had all devolved into Baker-bashing sessions.

Baker has been made the fall guy for the Browns’ 2021 season where the city was thick with high expectations for the Browns. But ultimately it was a management problem. GM Andrew Barry stocked the receiver room with a track guy, Anthony Schwartz. Stefanski failed to teach the track guy to never give up on a ball lest it be picked off by a safety behind him. And so, in Week 2, he gave up on ball that got picked off, and Baker unwisely made the tackle, injuring his shoulder in the process. Stefanski yelled at Schwartz from the sideline, but it was too late. The amateurs had done their damage.

From that point on, Baker heroically tried to salvage the season, and was treated with nothing but irrational hatred for his efforts by the city’s embarrassing sports media.

I have no doubt that Baker will be better treated in Charlotte.