CLEVELAND, Ohio – The path to a successful career as an NFL quarterback, one that even includes stardom, is circuitous.
Rarely is progress truly linear, and rarely do we see rookie quarterbacks come into the NFL and find any stretch of brilliance.
Baker Mayfield’s rookie year with the Browns has been common and uncommon all at the same time. He has experienced the types of rookie struggles we expect to happen, but even his low moments have been far less often than some of his incredible highs.
Mayfield has found that rare stretch of rookie dominance since the arrival of Freddie Kitchens as his offensive coordinator. He has flashed for over a month as one of the NFL’s best quarterbacks, but Saturday night in Denver he had a regression to the mean.
These things happen. Rookies will struggle, and sometimes there will be no reason for it at all.
Mayfield was just simply off. He was missing throws he normally makes, and his passion for driving the ball down the field caught up with him in the first half.
Yet what we can take away from the ugly game from Mayfield was his brilliance in the situation the yielded the game’s winning touchdown, a 2-yard strike to Antonio Callaway. The intricacies of this play are worth studying and tell a story about Mayfield’s progression.
Let’s first take a look at the full play, then break it down shot by shot with the quarterback’s thought process.