Baker Mayfield will officially enter the last chance saloon in Week 11 at the Baltimore Ravens after an injury to P.J. Walker gave him another opportunity.
It’s funny how things work out sometimes. Baker Mayfield looked set to occupy a backup role once again for the Carolina Panthers in Week 11, but an unfortunate thigh injury for P.J. Walker has now thrust the former Oklahoma standout back into the limelight.
The Panthers announced on Monday that they will be rolling with Mayfield at the Baltimore Ravens. A foe he is all too familiar with from his time under center with the Cleveland Browns before they deemed him surplus to requirements this offseason.
Mayfield caught the eye in the second half in Week 9 at the Cincinnati Bengals when he replaced Walker. This came with the result long confirmed, but it was a sign that more could be on the way now that previous head coach Matt Rhule is out of the equation.
Baker Mayfield must seize his chance as Carolina Panthers QB1
There seems to be a greater sense of creativity and meticulous preparation with Steve Wilks at the helm. Players on the fringes under Rhule are thriving under his leadership, so Mayfield could be next in line to benefit provided he handles an unhospitable environment on the road.
Mayfield has a 3-5 career record against the Ravens, which isn’t terrible considering how bad the Browns have been in recent years. From a statistical standpoint, there is plenty to suggest he can make a difference if given enough rope by offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo.
- 58.42% completion
- 2,221 passing yards
- 13 TDs
- 9 INTs
- 10 sacks against
- 83.2 passer rating
- 72 rushing yards
- 1 rushing TD
The Ravens will be well rested coming off their bye week and having come up against Mayfield plenty since his arrival as the No. 1 overall selection in 2018, it could give them a head-start in pursuit of victory.
From Mayfield’s perspective, this is a chance he cannot afford to pass up. His production over the first five games was inconsistent at best, which plunged his career aspirations into serious doubt with his rookie contract set to expire in 2023.
Mayfield knows more than anyone how urgent things now are regarding his time as an NFL starter. The Panthers are likely going to go in a different direction next spring, so this is a solid audition for the player against one of the league’s best defenses.
This is the last chance saloon for Mayfield. Unless he seizes the moment and performs well versus high-caliber opposition, he can kiss his chances of getting an immediate opportunity to start next season.
That might be a foregone conclusion at this point. However, Mayfield is a strong character that won’t go down without a fight, so the Panthers should allow the quarterback the same freedom to move the football quickly that was afforded to Walker behind a strong running game led by D’Onta Foreman.
The Heisman Trophy winner’s recent path has been a rollercoaster. Mayfield’s taken everything in his stride and deserves praise for his adaptability to assist the team in whatever way possible, but he’s now firmly in the spotlight again and the margin for error is slimmer than it’s been throughout his career so far.
Nobody is anticipating Carolina to pull off an upset. But as Mayfield’s shown on countless occasions, he’s at his most dangerous when the cards at stacked against him.
And that, above all else, adds another fascinating dimension to this Week 11 clash.