Maybe probably the most surprising results of all the Week 16 slate got here on Christmas Day. That’s when the Los Angeles Rams, led by recently-signed quarterback Baker Mayfield, throttled the Denver Broncos by a last rating of 51-14. That included a second the place Patrick Star, a part of the printed on Nickelodeon, roasted a Russell Wilson interception.
One other surprising growth from that recreation? The play from Mayfield himself. The quarterback turned in maybe his greatest recreation of all the season, finishing 24 of 28 passes for 230 yards and a pair of touchdowns, with out throwing an interception. This got here towards a Broncos protection that heading into Week 16 was among the finest go defenses within the league, permitting -0.099 Anticipated Factors per Play per Dropback, fourth-best within the NFL. Denver has additionally allowed an Adjusted Internet Yards per Try of simply 4.7 this 12 months to opposing quarterbacks, second-best within the league.
Since becoming a member of the Rams, Mayfield has accomplished 58 of 84 passes for 571 yards (69% completion proportion) and 4 touchdowns, towards only a single interception. Throughout his time with the Carolina Panthers this 12 months, Mayfield hit on 57.8% of his throws for six touchdowns, and 6 interceptions.
Is Baker again?
Rams followers, or Mayfield believers, who wish to lean into that notion do have some proof to drag from Sunday’s blowout victory over the Broncos. Mayfield seemed as calm and comfy within the pocket as he has in a very long time, and it confirmed on performs like this completion on a dig path to tight finish Brycen Hopkins. Watch as Mayfield targets Hopkins within the secondary window, working round security Kareem Jackson:
Jackson drops down into an beneath robber method, studying Mayfield’s eyes. When the QB first appears to be like on the dig route, Jackson breaks to his proper, anticipating a throw in that course. That’s when Mayfield suits the throw round Jackson, connecting along with his tight finish for an enormous achieve.
One other throw to a good finish stands out from this win, a brief landing to Tyler Higbee from early within the second quarter:
The Rams face a third and aim on the 7 yard line, already out to a 17-3 lead. Denver goes with a zero blitz on this snap, and linebacker Alex Singleton has a free run on the QB. Mayfield first peeks the swap idea on the suitable facet of the sphere, earlier than getting his eyes to Higbee’s look route on the left. The QB is aware of the massive hit is coming, however he hangs within the pocket and makes an ideal throw for the landing.
However whereas Mayfield deserves credit score for the way effectively he has tailored to life with the Rams, his coach, Sean McVay, has carried out some adapting of his personal. Based on Sports activities Information Options, heading into Week 16 the Rams led the league in the usage of 11 personnel, a bundle with three extensive receivers and a good finish on the sphere, with 794 offensive snaps in that bundle.
That modified Sunday towards the Broncos. Los Angeles leaned into 12 personnel, placing two tight ends on the sphere, for the primary time all season. The Rams ran 49 snaps Sunday in that bundle, and it created some massive performs within the passing recreation.
One instance was this boot-action design from halfway by way of the primary quarter. Each Higbee and Hopkins are within the recreation, in a YY wing alignment on the suitable. Mayfield comes out of a run faux and rolls to his proper, hitting Hopkins on the deep nook route:
12 personnel was additionally on the sphere late within the third quarter, when Mayfield and Hopkins related on this out path to the left facet of the sphere:
What stands out about this throw? The location from Mayfield. The Broncos are in Cowl 4 right here, and with the skin receiver going vertical — which pulls the cornerback with him — Jackson, the protection, has to cowl the out route from the tight finish. Jackson does a very good job at breaking on the route, and he beats Hopkins to the skin. If Mayfield leads the tight finish, Jackson has a very good likelihood at an interception. However Mayfield’s throw throttles Hopkins down, and the tight finish is ready to defend Jackson away from the ball with physique.
He then breaks the sort out try for good measure.
So, what does one make of Mayfield proper now? Is his success towards the Broncos extra an element of Denver folding the tents on the finish of a disappointing season? Is McVay discovering a approach to cater his offense to what Mayfield does effectively within the passing recreation?
Or is Baker really again?
Since becoming a member of the Rams, Mayfield has regained among the confidence and swagger that made him a Heisman Trophy winner, and the first-overall choice within the 2018 draft. He appears to be like snug and assured once more within the pocket, and good performs are following on the sphere.
However McVay additionally deserves credit score for adapting his offense in brief order to his new quarterback. That is, in spite of everything, the job of a coach. Adapt what you do to the expertise you will have on the roster.
McVay has been criticized prior to now for being gradual to adapt to both his roster, or what defenses are doing to his schemes. In three brief weeks, nevertheless, he has tweaked his offense to match the quarterback below middle. Lots of the ideas are the identical, however the personnel bundle is a departure from McVay’s offenses of the previous. The offense mirrors what McVay was working with Jared Goff on the helm, with an emphasis on play-action and boot-action designs to create alternatives for the QB
However the emphasis on 12 personnel additionally helps Mayfield, because it creates extra favorable matchups with tight ends working towards linebacker and safeties. On each of the above examples, the Broncos had been in greater defensive personnel teams, with three down linemen and 4 linebackers on the sphere. One of many tenets of McVay’s offense through the Rams’ run to Tremendous Bowl LIII was working out of 11 personnel, working towards sub defensive packages, and creating lighter packing containers to work towards within the run recreation.
Sunday? The Rams discovered methods to throw out of 12 personnel, towards heavier personnel groupings.
So to reply the query. Is Baker again?
We’re not able to say that.
Nevertheless it does appear to be if a profession revival goes to occur for him, he may need landed in the very best place attainable.