Baker Mayfield Has a Chance to Have a Better Career Than Alex Smith

Former NFL player Bobby Carpenter recently stated he believes Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield could turn out like 2005 first overall pick, Alex Smith. The same Alex Smith whose rookie season included just one touchdown pass compared to Mayfield’s record setting 27.

Carpenter believes 2020 to be the ‘make or break season for Mayfield, stating, “This is his fourth coach in his third season. He’s not going to get a fifth coach. If they end up moving on from Kevin Stefanski because they haven’t had success, a lot is going to fall at the feet of Baker Mayfield.”

Okay, so history may not be on Mayfield’s side if this is the case, given the Haslams’ track record of dumping coaches after just a year or two. Since taking over the team in 2012, the Haslams have gotten rid of five coaches, not including Gregg Williams, who served as an interim coach in 2018.

Mayfield has also seen four offensive coordinators so far, counting new offensive coordinator Alex van Pelt,while Smith saw seven in his eight seasons with the San Francisco 49ers.

But that’s where the similarities stop.

Baker Mayfield Has a Chance to Have a Better Career Than Alex Smith

Statistical Differences

Baker Mayfield’s success on the field couldn’t have differed more from Smith’s during their rookie seasons. Ryan Leaf threw more touchdown passes than Alex Smith during his rookie season in 1998. For reference, Leaf played in 10 games while Smith played in nine during his rookie season in 2005.

Meanwhile, Mayfield threw 27 touchdown passes in just 13 starts, setting a rookie record. His record that season was 6-7 (7-7 if you count the Thursday Night Football win over the New York Jets which earned the Browns their first win in 635 days). Remember, Mayfield took over a team that went 0-16 the previous season.

While Smith may have won more games during his second season, Mayfield again tops Smith in every passing category except interceptions. Media pundits have made Mayfield’s second season out to be some tragedy, but other than his interception issue, which brought down his passer rating, Mayfield’s second season isn’t as bad as many like to make it out to be.

Mayfield completed nearly 60 percent of his passes and threw for over 3,800 yards. Often, poor offensive line play forced Mayfield to scramble and throw before he was ready, which contributed to the higher interception rate.

Durability Differences

Smith has also been injury prone throughout his career, which ultimately kept him out for 25 of his 32 contests in 2007 and 2008. Smith also dealt with injuries during his rookie season in 2005 that caused him to miss action. Smith also suffered a horrific leg injury in a 2018 Week 11 game against the Houston Texans, in his first season with the Washington Redskins. True, that terrible leg injury was a freak accident and it could happen to any player, regardless of durability, but out of a possible 240 regular season games during Smith’s career, he’s played in only 166.

Though there is smaller overall sample size thus far, Mayfield has missed only two contests during his career when he was in a backup role for Tyrod Taylor for the first two games of the 2018 season.

While there’s never a guarantee Baker Mayfield will be injury free in 2020, 2021 and beyond, he’s shown far more durability than Smith. This can change in an instant, but over the first two seasons of their respective careers, Mayfield has the edge in durability.

Last Word

Sure, the dysfunction of both the Browns and 49ers from a coaching standpoint has probably impacted both Mayfield and Smith. But statistically, Mayfield’s entrenched in the lead over Smith. There’s also the fact that Smith continued to underwhelm when he played in 2007, posting a quarterback rating of 57.2.

After three seasons, no one in San Francisco had a high opinion of Smith and by 2008, and he’d lost the starting quarterback job in training camp to J.T. O’Sullivan before landing on injured reserve with a shoulder injury.

It is true that despite the dysfunction and coaching changes in Cleveland, Mayfield has had better continuity in player personnel. He also has not had another quarterback breathing down his neck as Smith did. Some key components of the offense from 2018 remain, including Jarvis Landry, Joel Bitonio, J.C. Tretter, Nick Chubb, and Mayfield.

Landry, Bitonio, and Chubb have all been to Pro Bowls and Tretter has been a solid starter. Smith never had such familiarity in San Francisco outside of Frank Gore and maybe Vernon Davis.

While Smith eventually became a viable starting quarterback and experienced some consistency with the Kansas City Chiefs, the beginning of his career was loaded with dysfunction. As for Mayfield, he not only has viable talent around him that includes familiar faces, but each regime gave him more weapons to work with.

John Dorsey traded for Landry and Odell Beckham. He signed Kareem Hunt. Andrew Berry overhauled the offensive line and signed Pro Bowl tight end, Austin Hooper. Mayfield’s in a much better situation than Smith to succeed. But that also comes with a sense of urgency. Baker Mayfield must succeed with the strong supporting cast that has been put around him, much like Smith did during his time with the Chiefs, and he has the tools to do just that.

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Published at Sun, 17 May 2020 21:09:50 +0000