Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield is eager to let his play do the talking ahead of a crunch Week 1 clash against the Cleveland Browns.
In just a few short days, Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield will take the field at Bank of America Stadium for a pivotal Week 1 contest against the Cleveland Browns. A game that is sure to be emotionally charged as the signal-caller looks for instant revenge on the team that cast him aside in favor of Deshaun Watson this offseason.
The media has tried valiantly to fan the flames ahead of the contest. Mayfield is a polarizing figure that people love reading about, but a newfound maturity surrounding the Oklahoma product since joining the Panthers means controversial soundbites have been almost non-existent.
Mayfield looks fully focused on the task at hand and is keen to make the most out of an instant opportunity to start. He’ll no doubt be aiming to prove his doubters wrong, but it’s hard not to examine the magnitude of such an encounter and the ramifications it could have on Carolina’s season overall.
Dealing with unnecessary distractions is nothing new for Mayfield. His competitive edge and charisma dictate such complications, but analyst expert Cynthia Frelund’s ill-advised comments regarding a conversation with the Heisman Trophy winner that lit the blue touch paper way ahead of time.
Baker Mayfield focused on the Carolina Panthers and nothing else
As expected, Mayfield didn’t say it and Frelund tried to walk it back when it was too late. But at least the quarterback knows what he’s dealing with where the media is concerned, who’ll try to latch onto anything in pursuit of headlines.
"“It’s obviously a bigger story because I haven’t given the media what they’ve wanted me to give them this year and this offseason. So this is what they think that I’ve said, and it’s not. So, take it and run with it, but I know what I did, and our team knows what I said, so it’s alright.”"
This offseason has no doubt been a humbling one for Mayfield. He can do nothing about the rumors, allegations of childish behavior, or the way he’s perceived nationally, but the player is going to be hugely influential in the overall outcome in Week 1 when it’s all said and done.
Mayfield has to keep his emotions in check in the coming days and when it’s time to take the field. The competitive fire won’t ever go away, but the No. 1 overall selection in 2018 is treating this like any other season opener – at least publicly.
"“Football is a violent, very emotional, passionate sport, and that’s the way I’ve always played it. I’m not going to change that. In the grand scheme of things, it’s a great storyline – it really is – because I wasn’t expected to be out of Cleveland. But after Week 1, there are 16 more that really, really matter. That’s how I’m approaching it.”"
Letting his production do the talking. Playing the game and not the occasion.
This is essential for Mayfield despite the countless storylines and increased interest in this particular fixture.
The Panthers are counting on Mayfield to provide the spark under center that’s been sorely lacking since Matt Rhule took charge as head coach. It’s been an encouraging summer for the player, but it will count for nothing if he cannot get the job done when it matters most.
Defeating the Browns could lay the foundations for a successful campaign. Mayfield knows that more than anybody and if the Panthers manage to accomplish this feat, then the satisfaction to follow will be incredibly difficult to hide.