How is Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield adjusting to the increased demands set by new offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo?
Arriving late in the offseason after the Carolina Panthers held out for a better deal, it was always a difficult ask for Baker Mayfield. The quarterback’s received a crash course in offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo’s system throughout their recent training camp, accumulating a wealth of information in a short space of time in pursuit of winning the starting job when competitive games arrive.
This is a common theme for Mayfield, dealing with college changes and various offensive coordinators since being selected No. 1 overall in 2018. Thankfully for the player and the Panthers, these experiences have been put to good use following his high-profile trade from the Cleveland Browns.
Mayfield has gradually become more comfortable within McAdoo’s complex system, growing in confidence with every passing day. This was further reflected during his one series at the Washington Commanders to open the preseason, with the Oklahoma product leading his team down the field for a field goal to open the contest.
Things would have been even better if Robbie Anderson had held onto a beautiful deep ball from Mayfield. It was a small sample size, but another encouraging sign that indicates he’ll be under center against his old team in Week 1.
Baker Mayfield’s growing confidence in Carolina Panthers’ offense
After Carolina’s victory in Washington, Mayfield reflected on his growing knowledge of the Panthers’ demands. The signs are positive from the player’s comments and this is also evident when watching the fifth-year-pro compared to the early stages at Wofford College.
"“(It’s) night-and-day different, that’s for sure. (It’s) a lot more comfortable now, and I think that kind of permeates throughout our whole offense. Obviously, Sam (Darnold)’s got great command of the offense as well, so we just have to be the leaders and continue to try and improve.”"
Just how much longer the ‘competition’ between Mayfield and Sam Darnold goes on remains to be seen. There is a clear gulf between the two, with head coach Matt Rhule planning to confirm the winner after joint practices with the New England Patriots this week.
The sooner Mayfield gets the nod, the better. But it’s also vital for the Panthers to solidify what many believe to be their best offensive line unit to enhance cohesion which was lacking on occasions against a stout Commanders’ defensive front.
Considering the high stakes where Rhule and the Panthers are concerned in 2022, they can ill-afford a disappointing start with so many home games to kick off the campaign. Anything less would be nothing short of a disaster.
Mayfield clearly gives Carolina a better chance of making waves next season. However, it won’t take long for the fingers to point squarely at Rhule for rep mismanagement in the event things don’t start off on the right foot.
That’s out of Mayfield’s hands, to a certain extent. All the player can do is maximize the reps allocated, continue improving in McAdoo’s scheme, and enhance chemistry with the regular season now on the immediate horizon.
If Mayfield can accomplish this, then everything should take care of itself. And considering the significant challenge facing the signal-caller this offseason, he deserves a huge amount of credit under one of the league’s biggest microscopes.