The 3-2 Los Angeles Chargers square off with a much-improved Cleveland Browns squad in Week 6. What has ignited the Browns’ renovation? A firey rookie quarterback from Austin, Tx.
Cam Newton’s wicked arm strength and explosive athleticism are sometimes overshadowed by his swagger and bravado both on the field and off it. Since entering the league in 2011, the Carolina Panthers’ signal caller has possessed the most shining personality amongst NFL quarterbacks.
But in 2018, he has some company in that department; Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield. And if the Chargers’ defense can not douse his beaming confidence in Week 6, then the Bolts could be in for a difficult afternoon.
From the moment Mayfield stepped onto the gridiron in Week 3 against the New York Jets, the Browns offense has been a treat to watch. The 2018 version of the Cleveland attack looks far less lackadaisical than what was displayed since the 2016 season.
Cohesion between the quarterback and his pass catchers has improved drastically with the 2017 Heisman Trophy winner under center.
Looking back at his debut appearance against the Jets is justifiable evidence. Mayfield re-energized the Browns attack instantly after he replaced injured quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The rookie quarterback flashed his poise and accuracy in the game, but his swagger and alpha-male leadership galvanized the Cleveland offense to their first win in 635 days.
Do his statistics look dazzling? Not necessarily. The University of Oklahoma alum has recorded three touchdowns and three interceptions off of 838 passing yards through three games, which includes two starts. Mayfield has been sacked eight times and has lost two fumbles.
But the 2018 first overall draft pick is coming off a strong performance against a stingy Baltimore Ravens defense.
Mayfield racked up 354 passing yards for a touchdown pass and an interception en route to Cleveland’s second win in three weeks. What made his performance even more admirable was that Baltimore’s defense got star cornerback Jimmy Smith back in the lineup following a four-game suspension, and he is no slouch.
Mayfield’s Week 5 performance should concern the Chargers going into Sunday’s game in Cleveland. His infectious confidence has elevated when playing at home in front of the Browns fans, and do not expect this trend to dissipate.
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The former Oklahoma Sooner is fresh off his first career 300-yard passing game against a defense that is substantially better than L.A.’s.
Furthermore, young quarterbacks such as Josh Allen of the Buffalo Bills and C.J. Beathard of the San Francisco 49ers flashed competency against the Chargers secondary in 2018. Mayfield is unquestionably better than both of those signal callers.
If the Bolts fail to slash Mayfield’s bravado, then the Chargers could find themselves in the loss column for a third time this season. It is imperative for L.A.’s pass rush to bring heaps of pressure toward the rookie quarterback. Making Mayfield’s life miserable under center is the key to success in this tilt.
However, a lackluster performance from the pass rush will rub off on the secondary, which could ultimately lead to the Browns’ third win of the season.