The Rams were losing week after week and often weren’t even competitive, being eliminated from postseason contention before Christmas. It wasn’t the season that anyone had envisioned, but such is life in the NFL.
After the Rams blew a lead to the Seattle Seahawks in Week 13 to suffer their sixth straight loss, I reached my breaking point. John Wolford and Bryce Perkins clearly were not the answer at quarterback and with all of the team’s injuries, they were unwatchable.
But then Baker Mayfield showed up
The Rams decided to claim Baker Mayfield off waivers after he was let go by the Carolina Panthers. The former No. 1 overall pick has only been with L.A. for three weeks, but it has been like night and day as far as watch-ability goes as he has stabilized the quarterback position, winning two of the three games he has played.
It all started on Thursday Night Football in Week 14. Mayfield showed up less than 48 hours before but still managed to lead the Rams to a comeback victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, leading two fourth-quarter touchdown drives. After a loss to the Green Bay Packers, Mayfield and the Rams got back in the win column on Christmas Day when they demolished the Denver Broncos 51-14.
Mayfield was nearly perfect in the game, completing 24 of 28 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He has been playing with a swagger that has been contagious as everyone on the team has seemed to raise their level of play since Mayfield came to town.
McVay deserves credit for Mayfield’s turnaround
As recently as one month ago, many people were questioning Mayfield’s future in the NFL. He failed in both Cleveland and Carolina, but given where the Rams’ season was at, Sean McVay decided to take a chance on him.
It was a no-lose situation for the Rams considering they have nothing left to play for other than evaluating for 2023 and beyond. If Mayfield signs elsewhere, the Rams will receive a compensatory draft pick. And if he wants to stick around, then L.A. has a capable backup behind Matthew Stafford that they didn’t previously have with Wolford and Perkins.
But no one could have predicted that the Mayfield-McVay pairing would work this well.
McVay has had an affinity for Mayfield since the pre-draft process when they shared a flight to the NFL Combine together. The Rams obviously didn’t have a high pick at the time though, so there was never a thought of the quarterback coming to L.A. until now.
But what makes McVay so great as a coach is his ability to communicate and play to a player’s strength, and that’s exactly what he has done with Mayfield.
What we’re learning as fans
I didn’t really know this until the last few weeks, but one of Mayfield’s best attributes as a quarterback is his ability to see the field and retain information. That has been very important when getting him up to speed with L.A.’s offense, and even Mayfield has said that McVay has made it easy for him with his communication.
In the previous offenses Mayfield has played in, there hasn’t been much collaboration. The coach has called the plays, and Mayfield has done his best to execute them.
But with McVay as well as the other minds on L.A.’s sideline like Stafford, offensive coordinator Liam Coen and quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson, Mayfield has been able to communicate what he’s seeing in order for McVay to call the plays the quarterback is most comfortable with. And it has worked as Mayfield has been as accurate as ever in the pocket, hitting on the short and intermediate throws that he has always excelled in.
Even without their top two offensive weapons, McVay has still been able to scheme guys open with play-action and misdirection to get Mayfield in a rhythm with the offense.
It will be interesting to see what happens this offseason because Mayfield has likely played himself into a starting gig given the poor quarterback play around the league currently. If that ends up being the case then Mayfield has McVay and the Rams to thank for turning around his career. And we will thank Mayfield right back for injecting some life into this otherwise dead team. A comp pick wouldn’t be so bad either.
In the meantime though, let’s just enjoy these last couple games as Mayfield and McVay continue to get more familiar with each other. I’m interested to see what else they can cook up with more preparation and collaboration together.