Mayfield Bakerit is wild 48 hour journey that ended with him leading the Los Angeles Rams to a comeback win over the Las Vegas Raiders in the first game of week 14 was not only impressive, it was also prophetic.
Shortly after he requested and obtained a release from Carolina Panthers December 5, Mayfield told Peter King of NBC Sports that he bought a plane ticket that would leave Charlotte at 4:48 p.m. ET on Tuesday for Los Angeles. Mayfield would have done that before they had the Rams would claim him on waivers although there were three other teams ahead of Los Angeles – the Houston Texas, Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos.
So, just in case Mayfield and his agent’s intuition were wrong, Mayfield said he had taken out theft insurance.
“You checked the box for theft insurance,” King asked, “so you can get the money back if you don’t make the trip?”
“I did it,” Mayfield said. “Honestly, I was just waiting at the airport for a phone call, hoping and praying the call came from a Los Angeles number.”
At 4.10pm – 38 minutes before the flight was scheduled to depart from Charlotte Douglas International Airport – Rams general manager Les Snead called Mayfield to tell him he had been claimed. A little after, ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Mayfield had “a chance” to play Thursday night after the Rams tried to send him a condensed playbook to study during the flight. The problem was that Mayfield couldn’t download the file until after he landed in Los Angeles because of the plane’s Wi-Fi.
“Airplane Wi-Fi wasn’t friendly on that one,” Mayfield told King, “so I was pretty stressed out.”
Mayfield’s crash course in Rams offense
Starting Tuesday night and over the next two days, Mayfield learned enough from the playbook to not just dress for the Rams, but to take over as starting quarterback in Los Angeles’ second series. But he didn’t have much time.
Rams head coach Sean McVay said after the game that Mayfield only got one practice with the team and two 10-game team drills. Mayfield reportedly relied on his coaches and teammates to fill in the gaps he had between arriving Tuesday night and Thursday’s game.
It helped the Rams use protection packages similar to those Cleveland Browns offensive line coach Bill Callahan, who worked with Mayfield in Cleveland and with McVay when the two worked in Washington. Mayfield and McVay also developed a report during the pre-drafting process in 2018. The two spoke at length on a flight from Los Angeles to Indianapolis on the offensive concepts under which Mayfield ran Lincoln Riley, then Oklahoma head coach To college.
After all that, McVay said after the game that he felt comfortable enough with Mayfield’s understanding of offense to let him come out and play.
“I felt good about him being able to come in and do some of the things that we were asking because I’ve seen him do it before, but you never know,” McVay said, by ESPN. “…But I think he plays fast. You can see, when he sees things, he can speed them up.
Mayfield stumbled a bit when he got in: Although he completed 3 of 6 passes for 65 yards in the first half, Mayfield only went 1 of 6 for five yards in the Rams’ first two possessions in the second period. But thanks to a few errors from the Raiders, Mayfield led the Rams on two scoring runs in the fourth quarter – the final being a 98-yard run that ended with a 23-yard touchdown pass to Van Jefferson.
“I was really impressed,” McVay said. “I don’t know if I would say surprised, because I’ve always been a fan of the things he was capable of, but to say I expected it certainly exceeded our expectations. But it was great fun to watch him go. work tonight.”
What’s next for Mayfield, Rams
Mayfield did enough in his debut to earn the Rams the starting job for the rest of the season, McVay confirmed to reporters on Friday. This all makes sense given Matthew Stafford is on the injured list with a neck injury and backups Jean Wolford (who is also injured) and Bryce Perkins combined to go 1-3 with 551 total passing yards, two passing touchdowns and five interceptions on 96 passing attempts.
But after the end of these four games? Who knows. Mayfield will be a free agent this offseason and the Rams signed Stafford to a four-year, $160 million deal with $135 in guaranteed money nine months ago – meaning he’s not going anywhere. Mayfield could return as a Stafford replacement in 2023, but that might not even be something he would want. Especially if other opportunities arise this off-season.
Mayfield’s return to the spotlight is fun and definitely a great story. It’s unclear how long that will last given his and the Rams’ respective futures.