Panthers OC Ben McAdoo Changes Mind On QB Baker Mayfield

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People can change.

Take Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator and former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo, who’s recently pivoted to considering Baker Mayfield a solid option at starter, alongside Sam Darnold, despite some sharp criticisms aimed at Mayfield in the past.

Now that the two are paired up in Carolina, with McAdoo as teacher and Mayfield as pupil, the coach is trying to give Mayfield a fair shot in training camp as he battles Darnold for the starting role.

On Tuesday, McAdoo called Baker’s development at Panthers camp “impressive” and lauded his leadership abilities.

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“Baker, since he’s been here in the last two weeks, it’s been pretty impressive,” McAdoo said, then adding, “One of his strengths is command. He can lead a room; he can command a room, he can command an offense. He has a good presence about him. And, you know, he’s got a fire in his guts.

“The thing for Baker, he’s been in a lot of offensive systems going back to college and then coming through the pros. He’s bright, and he really works at it. That helps him. He’s here very early in the morning, and I’m sure he’s burning the midnight oil to get caught up.”


The coach’s comments reminded fans of his past ranking of rookie QBs in 2018, putting Josh Allen, Lamar Jackson, Sam Darnold, Josh Rosen and Mason Rudolph all ahead of Mayfield — mainly due to Mayfield’s smaller size at QB.

McAdoo also called Mayfield’s tape out of Oklahoma underwhelming by pro standards.

(Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

“I didn’t see a lot of pro-style football in his college tape. And if you’re short, you have to be able to make up for it some way, somehow, and personality doesn’t do that,” McAdoo commented back in 2018. “I didn’t think he was a great athlete. This guy is kinda like a pocket quarterback that is short and with small hands; that’s what I worry about.”

McAdoo also commented on the Panthers’ QB battle on Monday: which currently pits Darnold and Mayfield as the likely picks, while Ole Miss product Matt Corral stands as the dark horse option. 

McAdoo’s feedback was anything but clear regarding which QB held the lead.

“As long as we don’t resort to cannibalism, I think we have a chance to get out of this pretty good,” McAdoo stated. “They’re both going to be better players after we come out of camp and playing really good football. We’re just going to let it play itself out. I think the worst thing you can do is rush to a decision. Just have some patience.”

Panthers head coach Matt Rhule also had praise for Mayfield from training camp. “What he’s done in 10 days [of camp] is pretty impressive,” Rhule shared with the media on Monday. “He’s making real big jumps.”

Early buzz around camp anticipated Darnold as the likely starter heading into the 2022-23 season; though there have been recent whispers of Mayfield getting the start.

Both Rhule and McAdoo will have to be wise with their pick for QB after Rhule spent the start of the offseason on the coaching hot seat over his team’s poor identity on offense last season.

With Rhule’s job, at one point seemingly, on the line based on who he could recruit as his new OC, the head coach selected McAdoo, who proved to be a major aid to Eli Manning’s production and turnover numbers in New York.

Written by Alejandro Avila

Alejandro Avila lives in Southern California and previously covered news for the LA Football Network. Jeopardy expert and grumpy sports fan that has watched every movie.

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