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Rams' Sean McVay Praises Baker Mayfield After Broncos Win: 'He Has Been Outstanding'

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIDecember 26, 2022

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield passes during the second half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay heaped praised upon quarterback Baker Mayfield, who has excelled in his brief time as L.A's starter.

Per ESPN's Sarah Barshop, McVay was asked whether he felt Mayfield had done as well or better than expectations since taking over as the team's QB1 on Dec. 8 against the Las Vegas Raiders.

"I think probably better," McVay said after his team's 51-14 home win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday.

"But you guys know I was always a fan of him, and I think he's played really well. And you've got to think about too, what he's done to come in here and be able to play around a lot of guys too that haven't been here, and to be able to lead the charge today. Just an incredible effort. ... He has been outstanding."

The Rams claimed Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft, off waivers from the Carolina Panthers on Dec. 6. Two short days later, he took over at quarterback on the Rams' second drive of the game and led his new team to a 17-16 comeback win.

L.A. then lost 24-12 to the Green Bay Packers last Monday before rebounding with an emphatic win Sunday. For the Rams, Mayfield has completed 69.0 percent of his passes for four touchdowns (one interception) and 571 yards.

He saved his best work against a Broncos defense that allowed the third-fewest points in football leading into this week, completing 24 of 28 passes for 230 yards and two scores.

The Rams have struggled to a 5-10 season as injuries have piled up all year. Regular starting quarterback Matthew Stafford, who led the team to a Super Bowl victory last year, played just nine games after suffering a season-ending spinal cord contusion.

Stafford said on the Morning Afterpodcast, which is hosted by his wife, Kelly, that he plans to return next season.

Mayfield will be a free agent in 2023, and it will be interesting where he heads next season. He's doing well in a de facto audition for teams in this chance to showcase what he can do.

It's been a 180-degree turn from how the first part of Mayfield's year went, when he completed just 57.8 percent of his passes for six touchdowns, six interceptions and 1,313 yards in seven games for the Carolina Panthers. Carolina was in turmoil this season, though, with head coach Matt Rhule getting fired after a 1-4 start.

Mayfield suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 5 and never regained the starting job upon his return. He asked for his release on Dec. 5 and was picked up by the Rams the next day.

The former Oklahoma star and 2017 Heisman Trophy winner spent the first four years of his career with the Cleveland Browns.

He had an up-and-down career in Cleveland highlighted by the team's first playoff appearance since 2002 and first playoff win since 1994 during the 2020 campaign.

Mayfield also helped lead the Browns out of franchise-low doldrums during the Hue Jackson era, when the team went 3-36-1 from 2016-2018.

However, Mayfield notably struggled in 2019 and 2021 and suffered a litany of injuries (including a partially torn labrum, a shoulder fracture and a right knee contusion) during the latter year. He still played 14 games.

Lately, though, Mayfield looks like the confident rookie who starred for the 2018 Browns and the third-year pro who guided Cleveland to an 11-win season and the playoffs. His free agency will be one to watch next spring, but for now, we'll see how he finishes out this campaign starting Sunday against the Los Angeles Chargers.