Why did Baker Mayfield hold the ball longer than any QB in Week 2? – cleveland.com
CLEVELAND, Ohio – The Browns want the ball in Baker Mayfield’s hands, but there’s a limit to how long. On Monday against the Jets, Mayfield had the ball in his hands longer than any quarterback in Week 2, and it caused problems.
Mayfield’s average time to throw the ball was 3.35 seconds, according to Next Gen Stats. Through two games, his average time of 3.07 is third in the NFL.
More time to throw can be a good thing, but the first two weeks of the season suggest that Mayfield has been holding the ball too long, stretching the limits of his protection. He has been sacked eight times, third-most in the league. The Jets sacked him twice, hit him two other times and pressured him a total of 12 times.
“We need to get the ball out of his hands quicker. He is taking too many hits,” Kitchens said Tuesday. “I do not like my quarterback to take hits. I need to get the ball out of his hands quicker.”
Kitchens said something similar when asked about Mayfield’s time to throw, and his protection, after Week 1: “I have to do a better job of putting (the offensive line) in better situations from that standpoint. That falls on me more than anything else. When you go talking about the offensive line’s protection, that falls on me, as well. They have to play better, but I have to do a hell of a lot better job at putting them in better situations.”
That’s what Kitchens did in the second half of last season. Mayfield didn’t drop his overall time to throw much over the final eight weeks of the season. He averaged 2.79 seconds in Weeks 3-8 compared to 2.78 in Weeks 9-17. But three of his fastest release games came with Kitchens calling plays.
Of course, two of his slowest release games (3.01 vs. the Bengals, 3.25 vs. the Panthers) were wins in which his QB rating was well over 100.
Again, time is relative.
But even Mayfield alluded to the need for change Monday night, and pointed to a potential root of the problem.
“I think I need to be better checking the ball down and getting completions,” Mayfield said after Monday’s game. “I said it last week after watching that tape. Getting the ball in our guys’ hands and just putting us in a good position. Keeping the chains moving (and) keeping the positivity rolling.
“I think it’s a learning curve needing to know when I have to take my shots and then check the ball down and get completions. It’s a little difficult at times, but like I keep harping on, just get completions.”
Mayfield did look downfield more than normal in Week 2. His average intended air yards (the distance the ball travels in the air past the line of scrimmage) was 11.2 yards per attempt, fifth-most in the league. That number was 8.7 in Week 1, and 9.1 last season.
Having Mayfield hold the ball while trying to make something happen has worked for the Browns. He had an NFL-best 128.7 QB rating when he took 2.6 seconds or longer to throw in the red zone last season.
But the third preseason game against the Buccaneers showed us what quick decision-making can accomplish. Mayfield was 15-for-20 with two touchdowns, no sacks and a 126.9 passer rating when throwing within 2.5 seconds. Any longer than that, and he was 8-of-14 with no touchdowns, five sacks and a 72.9 passer rating, according to Pro Football Focus.
That trend has carried over into the regular season.
“On some of the plays, (Mayfield) looked good on and some of the plays he did not look so good on, but it is all things that we can correct,” Kitchens said on Tuesday. “I can do a better job personally putting him in better situations on a more consistent basis. That is the way we will go about that.”
In grading Mayfield’s performance against the Jets, PFF analysis had the starting offensive line responsible for six QB pressures. That total included two hits, four hurries and no sacks.
Responsibility for the Jets’ two sacks, according to PFF, went to Mayfield.
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