Just when I thought it couldn’t get worse, the Denver Broncos managed to get embarrassed on Thursday Night Football despite not even playing as Baker Mayfield led the Los Angeles Rams to a come-from-behind victory over Las Vegas. This is the same Baker Mayfield that the Denver Broncos wanted to select back in 2017 but they never got the chance to do so. They had the opportunity to trade for him this offseason and chose not to do so. And the Denver Broncos had the chance to claim Baker Mayfield off of waivers after being released by the Panthers and they decided not to do so.
So exactly how did a recently released quarterback playing for the Los Angeles Rams, a team almost as dysfunctional as the Denver Broncos, embarrass Denver on Thursday night football?
Well, for starters, he won the game. If he wins two more games in the next two weeks, he will have just as many wins this season as Russell Wilson does for the Denver Broncos, but it goes deeper than that. But, let’s dig a bit deeper.
All year we have been hearing about the need to build chemistry, the poor play-calling, the uninspiring play of Russell Wilson, and the inability to close out any close contests. Baker Mayfield, after being with the Los Angeles Rams for fewer than 48 hours suited up and started for the Rams Thursday night to take on the Denver Broncos’ rival Las Vegas Raiders.
In that one game, he had better chemistry with his receivers than anything I’ve seen from Russell Wilson all year. He had arguably a better stat line (22/35, 230 yards, and 1 TD) than what we’ve seen from Wilson all year. And in leading the Rams to two touchdowns in the waning minutes of the game last night, Baker Mayfield helped the Rams put up 17 points, which is something the Denver Broncos have done just twice this entire season.
Let’s not slide past that last point so quickly either. The Rams were down 16-3 with four minutes in the game remaining and won. They were down six points after the 2-minute mark, and they drove the ball 98 yards down the field to win.
The Russell Wilson-led Denver Broncos, meanwhile, have lost seven one-score games this season with three coming in overtime. In each of those games, Russell Wilson either had the ball in his hands in the final minutes for a game-winning drive or had the ball in his hands for a game-ending drive and failed to seal the deal.
It’s important to remember that this Rams team is almost as destroyed by injuries as the Denver Broncos are. The Los Angeles Rams’ offensive line is putrid, they don’t have their top-two wide receivers, the running back situation is only slightly better than the Denver Broncos and that is because of youth, and the defense is worse.
I’m not here to crown Baker Mayfield a top-15 quarterback to pretend like his performance was perfect by any means, but the success we did see puts many things into perspective. If a quarterback that has been essentially let go twice in the last year can come off the street and do that, why can’t the quarter-billion-dollar quarterback we have in Russell Wilson?
The excuses are running thin in Denver with Russell Wilson and the Broncos, and seeing Baker Mayfield perform so well is just another slap in the face for Denver Bronco fans everywhere. It’s also a great reminder that the Denver Broncos absolutely need to invest in the backup quarterback position this offseason to not only push Russ but also to provide the Denver Broncos a chance to win the game if Russ goes down.