Carolina Panthers Coaches Share Progress of Quarterback Baker Mayfield in Training Camp

by Patrick Norton

The Cleveland Browns had telegraphed a Baker Mayfield trade dating back to the team’s Week 17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers last season. Sacked nine times in his final game for Cleveland, the writing was on the wall for 2018’s first overall pick.

The NFL’s infamous Bountygate scandal reared its ugly, but not through Sean Payton. No – no coach paid to have an opposing quarterback injured. Instead, it seemed Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski put a hit on his own field general.

The acquisition of Deshaun Watson in March only guaranteed Mayfield’s eventual exit. However, the most-forecasted trade in the offseason didn’t occur until the beginning of July. But the embattled quarterback finds himself in a healthier situation, battling for the No. 1 spot against the third pick from the same draft class with the Carolina Panthers.

While navigating pre-draft interviews coming off of a Heisman Trophy winning-season at Oklahoma, New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo expressed concerns regarding Mayfield’s height and playing style. Five years removed from the gig, McAdoo finds employment with the Panthers as the offensive coordinator.

But as camp enters full-swing, Mayfield’s newest OC sings a brand new tune than a half-decade earlier. Instead, McAdoo said, “Baker – since he’s been here in the last two weeks, it’s been pretty impressive.”

Head coach Matt Rhule echoed McAdoo’s support nearly verbatim. The fourth-year NFL coach said, “What he’s done in 10 days is pretty impressive. He’s making real big jumps.”

Ben McAdoo’s Assessment of Baker Mayfield in 2018 Wasn’t Completely Wrong

But the quarterback is significantly more capable than once believed. Dragging the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs speaks to the capability as an athlete and leader.

As the relationship soured between coaches and quarterback, the Browns privately spoke out against Mayfield. Calling him immature, the team then acquired a quarterback on the verge of receiving a year-long suspension for 24 civil suits stemming from sexual misconduct.

McAdoo’s critiques of Mayfield were simply physical. The offseason after his firing from the Giants, the coach spoke to the New York Post in 2018 – laying out his thoughts on the incoming draft class.

At the time, McAdoo said, “He’s got an edge to him; I like that.” The coach specifically highlighted the respect he’d garner in a locker room, saying, “He’s gonna lead, they’re gonna follow him.”

However, that’s where the niceties end and the criticisms begin. “I didn’t think he was a great athlete,” said McAdoo. “This guy is kinda like a pocket quarterback that is short and with small hands. … That’s what I worry about.”

But it’s all love from coach to player now, with McAdoo speaking to reporters after Monday’s practice. The OC said, “He’s bright and he really works at it. That helps him. He’s here very early in the morning, and I’m sure he’s burning the midnight oil to get caught up.”