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Baker Mayfield admits his play was ‘not good enough’ in first two games with Panthers

The Baker Mayfield era has a rough start in Charlotte.

The hopeful answer to the Panthers’ quarterback conundrum is 0-2 in his first two starts with his new team, completing 53.6 percent of his passes for 380 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and a passer rating of 79. .5 completed. In short, Mayfield was average, which is understandably not good enough to win in today’s NFL.

“Not Good Enough”, Mayfield said Wednesday. “All I care about is winning, whatever my stats are. I haven’t looked after the ball well enough. That’s pretty much the only stat I care about.

“I have to manage this group better. I have to lead better, I have to make sure everyone is on the same page as where we are performing at a much higher level. That’s the biggest disappointment for me is that hasn’t shown yet. So I take full ownership of that as a violation.”

Mayfield has encountered issues familiar to those who have seen him play in Cleveland. The 6-foot-1 quarterback has had nearly a dozen passes in scrimmage in his first two games, threw a nasty interception against the Browns in Week 1, and struggled to connect with open goals. He’s messed up five times (luckily, the Panthers recovered them all) and also took some unnecessary risks, although they haven’t produced as much turnover as he did in his last season in Cleveland.

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Most importantly, Carolina’s offense has struggled to get a consistent rhythm. There were bright spots — Mayfield nearly led the Panthers to a comeback win over Cleveland with an offensive blast that included a 17-point fourth quarter and a 75-yard touchdown pass to Robbie Anderson — but it hasn’t been general enough confidence in to wake up the group.

Instead, the Panthers have failed to get Christian McCaffrey going and Mayfield has been forced to shoulder much of the offensive burden. So far, he has been unable to use such a responsibility to the benefit of the Panthers.

The issues that led Cleveland to seek a new quarterback have moved to Carolina, where Mayfield has expanded his run of sub-100 passer-rating games to eight. It is the longest streak in his career and equated to the second longest active streak in the NFL.

Simply put, Mayfield has to be better. He’s up against an opponent this week in New Orleans — a team that hasn’t allowed an opponent’s starting quarterback to score more than 100 in any of their last eight games — that won’t make it easy for him.

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On the bright side, Mayfield sees cause for optimism.

“We’ve shown our potential in small stints,” Mayfield said. “We’ve shown flashes. We need to be more consistent. You can see the explosive plays that can happen if we just do our job and we string together some good plays.”

It is now a question of achieving such consistency. The fate of Carolina’s season — and head coach Matt Rhule’s job — could depend on it.

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