Baker Mayfield will learn many lessons on his way to being a successful quarterback in the National Football League.
Among the first is the speed of the game. How much quicker and faster the pace of the game is radically different from college.
And now that he has become the Browns’ starting quarterback for who knows how long, he is discovering first hand that things happen much more suddenly in the NFL.
The players are bigger, faster, surprisingly quicker and able to make adjustments with alacrity. It becomes a matter of recognizing that and constantly making adjustments.
The act of throwing a football requires timing and precision. Mayfield already has that part down. But it’s adjusting to the speed of the game that separates the good ones from the great ones.
Right now, the kid from Texas is feeling his way along with only six quarters under his belt. Experience, the great teacher, is his best ally as he acclimates himself to the pro game.
He will make mistakes along the way, in part because he believes so much in himself and what he can do. Count on him making ill-advised throws at the most inappropriate times.
Opposing defensive coordinators will try to bait him at times, try to outsmart him at other times. Show one thing, morph into something entirely different. Some coordinators are better than others at the art of confusion.
Throwing the football of course is only one part of being a quarterback. The ability to properly diagnose what the opposing defense is showing and at the same time change blocking assignments if necessary complicates matters.
But Mayfield is said to be special to the point where all that doesn’t bother him and he is able to concentrate on throwing the ball. It comes naturally to him.
Going from a college offense that never required a huddle and was based on speed between plays to a more disciplined pro offense can be difficult for young quarterbacks with regard to huddling and getting used to the nomenclature of plays.
What we have seen from Mayfield thus far, however, is a confident quarterback who appears to understand the nuances of the position better than some thought. It’s only a game and a half, but he seems to be moving in the right direction.
His four-turnover game in the Raiders loss Sunday is probably forgotten or at least shoved so far back into his memory bank it will be soon enough. Short memories are essential to achieving success in the NFL.
As soon as he fully adjusts to the speed of the NFL game, which shouldn’t take much longer, everything should fall into place. It’s not what he accomplishes in the first half of the season that counts. It will be what he accomplishes in the second half.
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From the department of should have mentioned that earlier comes this little nugget:
There were several disputable calls by the officials in the loss to the Raiders, the most egregious of course the Carlos Hyde wrist/elbow reversal of what would have been a first down that would have sealed the verdict.
With about six minutes left in regulation and the Browns in front, 35-34, Myles Garrett and Genard Avery combined on a sack of Raiders quarterback Derek Carr with Avery raking the ball out of Carr’s hands instantly as the hits were delivered.
Larry Ogunjobi picked up the loose ball and was headed toward the Oakland end zone as referee Walt Anderson rushed up and whistled the play dead. “In the grasp,” he said.
Only one problem. Yes Carr was in the grasp, but the ball was gone well before he was in the grasp. Unfortunately, that strip sack and probable subsequent touchdown was not reviewable. The quick and incorrect whistle negated that possibility.
The Browns scored on the next possession anyway on Nick Chubb’s 41-yard burst. But that’s not the point. The league should at least consider such a play reviewable despite an early whistle and correct that problem.
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One more late niggle, clearly in the nature of a second guess.
When Chubb scored that touchdown, the Browns led by seven points at 41-34. Why not try a two-point conversion and take a nine-point lead if successful with 4:20 left in regulation? They were two for three in the two-point department in the game.
That way, the Raiders would have still trailed if they had scored. And if the two-point attempt had failed? It was still a seven-point lead and there's no way the Raiders have gone for two if they had scored.