INGLEWOOD, Calif. – Quarterback Baker Mayfield got to the Rams' facility Tuesday night and had just two 10-play periods in his lone practice with the team Wednesday.
Turns out, that condensed preparation wasn't that much of an obstacle.
Mayfield's whirlwind 48 hours – and really, week – culminated with leading Los Angeles on a game-winning, 98-yard touchdown-scoring drive for a 17-16 win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night at SoFi Stadium.
"It's been pretty hectic. It's been a lot of emotions to be honest with you," Mayfield said postgame. "A lot of things that… some tough decisions, but everything happens for a reason. I'm thankful. I just prayed about it and it worked out, you know? I just, right now, I just have a lot of emotions, but I'm really, really blessed. I'm really thankful right now, especially just the guys here that welcomed me in and helped me do the crash course here."
Mayfield arrived in L.A. after being waived on Monday by the Panthers, who had acquired him in a trade with the Browns this summer. Between his time in Cleveland and Carolina, he four different head coaches (six if you count Gregg Williams' and Steve Wilks' interim stints) and four different offensive coordinators.
For the first time in his career, that experience of playing in and learning multiple different offensive systems benefitted him.
"I used to not necessarily complain about the fact that I had that many different offensive systems and having to learn that, but it came in handy when having to learn a crash course and being able to relate certain things," Mayfield said. "Sean's protection scheme is similar to (Browns offensive line coach) Bill Callahan's, who I had in Cleveland, so terminology with that…that knocks out a big chunk of the learning curve and just trying to learn all the motions and the terminology for that. It's tough, but those guys did a great job of helping me out and communicating when I got off the field on the sideline and just talking about the plays that were coming up."
Still, there was some learning curve left, as the way the final drive unfolded showed. Like Rams head coach Sean McVay saying how, when they're spiking it to stop the clock, they're having to explain to Mayfield their clock mechanics, and what the cadence is when the quarterback is lined up underneath the center. Or Mayfield saying how center Brian Allen "screaming" in his face what that cadence was because they hadn't covered it, as McVay is yelling in his ear.
"I just can't say enough about how impressed I am with just the command, the comfort, even just the operation," McVay said. "(Baker) being able to just call the plays within the 42nd play clock or even 25 seconds out of a clock stoppage or it… I'm still kind of like, what the hell's going on right now."
"That whole drive just showed what time of guy he is," wide receiver Van Jefferson said.
Mayfield said a win like that "feels pretty good," but he also admitted there were still some "rookie errors" he made in Thursday night's game. Still, given how tough of a year it's been for him, he said it was a good way to begin his journey with the Rams.
"I don't know if you can write it any better than that," Mayfield said. "Obviously, we'd like to be a little bit more stress free, but it's a pretty damn good story, I'll be honest with you, so it's special."