Starting job in Carolina is Baker Mayfield’s “to lose”

The starting quarterback job for the Carolina Panthers is one of the positional battles NFL fans are keeping a keen eye on as training camps continue. According to recent reporting, however, that position is Baker Mayfield’s “job to lose.”

During a recent discussion on the NFL Network while reporting from Panthers’ training camp, Ian Rapoport referenced the “open competition” between Mayfield and Sam Darnold, and how the two have been splitting reps during practice. However, as Rapoport noted, “though the reps have been about equal, it’s clear that this is Baker Mayfield’s job to lose in Carolina:”

Garafolo noted that Mayfield is still learning the offense, but can deliver more “wow” plays for the Panthers offense.

Delivering those kinds of splash plays was never really an issue for Mayfield. Even last season, when he struggled with a shoulder injury that sidelined him for a few weeks, he was able to hit on throws like this one against the Detroit Lions:

This is a great bit of decision-making from Mayfield on this three-level Flood concept working off play-action. He initially looks at the middle read and starts to throw, but seeing the cornerback squat on that route, he resets his feet and throws the deeper corner route, putting that throw right on the money.

Here against the Cincinnati Bengals, Mayfield delivers another big play working off play-action, this time with pressure in his face:

If Mayfield indeed is the starter in Carolina, these kinds of designs have to be a big part of the gameplan. During his time in the NFL, Mayfield has been at his best working play-action concepts, particularly attacking downfield. As noted by our own Doug Farrar:

Mayfield also got things done as a play-action quarterback, especially on explosive plays — in 2020, on play-action throws of 20 or more air yards, he completed 14 of 20 for 484 yards, 394 air yards, two touchdowns, one interception, an ANY/A of 23.9, a passer rating of 125.0, an EPA of 22.10, and a Positive Play Rate of 70.0%. This is one of Mayfield’s relative superpowers when he’s set up to do it.

Play-action is often referred to as a “cheat code” in film-watching circles, and letting Mayfield attack downfield while working off run action could be Carolina’s version of Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start.

Now once the end zone is in sight, however, his receivers had better not reach for the goal-line.

Story originally appeared on Touchdown Wire