Though he is dealing with a shoulder injury that could ultimately keep him out of the Week 8 matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland, fourth-year quarterback Baker Mayfield’s mobility is a real concern for the Steelers’ defense, specifically veteran defensive lineman and team captain Cameron Heyward.
Mayfield is not to be mistaken with a Lamar Jackson or Josh Allen, let alone a young Ben Roethlisberger when it comes to mobility, extending the play and throwing on the run. However, Heyward – in his media availability Thursday ahead of the Week 8 matchup – said that the Steelers must key in on keeping Mayfield (should he play) inside the pocket on Sunday.
“They do a great job of moving the pockets sometimes, buying extra time for Baker,” Heyward said Thursday, according to Steelers.com. “You know, the thing about Baker that really stands out is he’s able to roll out and sometimes get flushed out of the pocket and still complete passes downfield. So, you know, we got to do a good job of keeping him in the pocket, not letting him run up the field.”
For the most part throughout Mayfield’s career in Cleveland, the Steelers have done a good job of keeping him in the pocket, forcing him to throw from an often muddied pocket, taking away his ability to extend plays and make throws on the run downfield to open receivers.
Mayfield will undoubtedly be limited on Sunday due to his shoulder injury, should he in fact play. That alone should make him hesitant to try and extend plays outside of the pocket and potentially open himself up to some shots in space. That should help the Steelers keep him inside the pocket, making it somewhat easier to cover on the back end while also getting after him with the pass rush, which could be a true winning formula defensively for the Steelers against an offense they’ve struggled against in the last two matchups.