Baker Mayfield’s challenge? Getting others to believe in him again

Through Martin Rogers
FOX Sports columnist

Listening to Baker Mayfield, not to mention the bruised ankle, bruised ego, ailing track record and all, is like attending a seminar extolling the virtues of positive thinking.

Point out that his job is in question and he will challenge you and ask if you are one of the questioners. He doesn’t question anything. He’s confident where he is.

He feels that way because there is still a lot of football left. That’s how it’s wired. He doesn’t live in the past; he lives in the moment. He will find out. He will advance.

We know these things because Mayfield said them himself last weekend, and we heard them because it’s his privilege and his responsibility to speak after the games as the Carolina Panthers’ first-choice quarterback.

How much do we hear forward and how long does his status as a starter last? Well, that’s up in the air right now as the former No. 1 pick finds himself at the most precarious point of his five-year pro career.

“I think there’s a chance Sunday was his last start,” said FS1’s Nick Wright in First Things First. “He was statistically the worst QB in football this year. We’ll see how long he’s out.”

Wrong at Baker Mayfield?

Wrong at Baker Mayfield?

The Panthers fired Matt Rhule after a 4-1 start to the season. Nick Wright is reacting to the news, including Baker Mayfield’s role in the whole thing.

Also Read :  We have to challenge divide and rule politics

Remember when it was widely believed that the Panthers had enough depth to potentially make a run in the postseason and that Mayfield’s brand of brazen rush could set them up for a successful campaign? That didn’t take long, did it?

And so after five weeks there are just a few things we know for sure.

That Matt Rhule is no longer responsible fired on Monday after a 1-4 start that promised more errors.

That Mayfield will be off the field for a couple of weeks and maybe longer after sustaining a serious sprained ankle in a 37-15 win over the San Francisco 49ers. And former XFL QB PJ Walker gets a chance to show what he can do this weekend against the Los Angeles Rams.

Furthermore? Everyone’s guess. Sam Darnold – who also has a high ankle sprain – is in rehab and will soon be an option for the new coach. The rumor mill is starting to churn over a possible fire sale of the team’s top talent, a feeling that running backs like Christian McCaffrey and DJ Moore could be up for grabs.

“The Panthers are open to business,” Wright added. “They don’t play a role in the NFL for the rest of the season. They are important because other teams could get their share. The Panthers are the team that’s open for business and teams should call.”

Also Read :  Book challenge prompts creation of ‘parent resources’ section at ImagineIF

If this is the beginning of the end for Mayfield in Carolina — where he has a one-year contract paid mostly by the Cleveland Browns — it’s hard to see where there would be a decent and obvious landing spot next, which is precisely why this saga has one Kind of a crossroads.

After being pushed out of Cleveland, the odds that there’s a team willing to give him what he wants seem downright slim. It doesn’t side-jump as a viable starting option, even for desperate teams. The touted role of exuberant and upbeat leader for a rowdy but undermanned team isn’t the right fit, or at least it wasn’t in Carolina.

Rebuilding somewhere as a quality backup doesn’t feel ideal either, especially since Mayfield might have a hard time convincing one franchise that he’s the right man to quietly stand in the shadows and patiently work for another and work for him.

This leaves perhaps only his ability to convince a team with strong surrounding parts but little money left that he’s the guy, that he can offer something close to elite play with a non-elite salary, and allow the money savings to be spent elsewhere to build a powerful lineup.

The problem is that there are others who can make this argument stronger. Jimmy Garoppolo certainly comes to mind depending on how things play out for him in San Francisco. If you were a GM in a place like this next summer, would you take the plunge into Mayfield or try to spot a discounted diamond in the NFL Draft?

Also Read :  Microsoft making Xbox mobile game store to challenge Apple's iPhone control

Given how quickly things have gone sour, how does Mayfield feel about it all?

“Very frustrated,” Mayfield told reporters. “And then, the more you think about it, angry because we haven’t maxed out our abilities, to be honest. That’s the frustrating part.

“You work all week, come out on Sundays, have to do the games that are there. You have to use our one on one games and some of the games we have.”

Mayfield still has the character and personality and swagger of a former No. 1 pick. He has the name, the recognisability. He has the talent to make headlines just because he’s a baker.

We’re getting to a point where none of this is enough, any more.

Mayfield will not stop believing in himself and doing things his way, which means getting them done at full speed and with full determination.

Getting others to share the same beliefs? That’s the biggest challenge now.

Martin Rogers is a columnist for FOX Sports and author of the FOX Sports Insider newsletter. Follow him on Twitter @MRogersFOX and Subscribe to the daily newsletter.

Get more out of the National Football League Follow your favorites to get information about games, news and more


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.