It was Baker Mayfield's turn Sunday to take his whacks at the Dolphins' awful pass defense. He didn't disappoint and, in fact, extended a trend that might yet save the story of his season.
For the first time this campaign, Mayfield capitalized on having one of the NFL's top receiving duos at his disposal, throwing two touchdowns to Jarvis Landry and one to Odell Beckham Jr. in the Browns' 41-24 romp. Mayfield was decisive and accurate throughout and finished with a 93.4 Total Quarterback Rating (QBR), the league's highest in Week 12. Regardless of how the Browns' season ends, he has a chance to leave 2019 with a positive spin on his long-term outlook.
We'll take a closer look at Mayfield in ESPN's Week 12 QB Awards, our Tuesday assessment of quarterback highs and lows using unique data culled from ESPN Stats & Information and NFL Next Gen Stats. Come along for the ride.
Calmest QB of the Week Award: Baker Mayfield, Cleveland Browns
The Dolphins came after Mayfield, blitzing him on 45.7% of dropbacks. But they pressured him on only 12.5% of those plays, in large part because Mayfield released the ball in an average of 2.34 seconds. That's a quantitative way of saying he was decisive in the face of extra pass-rushers and didn't hold the ball unnecessarily long.
It has been well-documented that Mayfield struggled to recognize defensive looks and make quick decisions. Before Sunday, he took an average of 2.70 seconds to get rid of the ball against the blitz, the eighth-highest mark in the NFL to that point. He had no such trouble against the Dolphins' extra rushers, completing 10 of 15 passes for 113 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
Sure, Mayfield sliced up an undermanned and overmatched defense. Miami has allowed an NFL-high 31.5 points per game, and opponents have lit up its blitz for 14 touchdown passes on 138 dropbacks, the highest ratio in the league. But regardless of opponent, it's undeniable that Mayfield has taken some significant strides after a horrendous start to the season.
Since the start of Week 8, he has the league's fifth-best QBR (68.1), resulting in nine touchdown passes, two interceptions and 245.0 yards per game. Most significantly, the Browns have won three straight in that stretch. Much like in his rookie season, Mayfield is playing his best in the second half of the season. This time, that has lifted the Browns into the playoff discussion.
The Fumblitis Award: Daniel Jones, New York Giants
No matter what you think of Jones' arm or mobility, the rookie's ball protection has been historically bad. Jones fumbled Sunday when sacked by the Bears' Khalil Mack, raising his league-leading total to 14 in 10 games. That ratio of 1.4 per game ranks among the highest in modern NFL history. According to research by Evan Kaplan of ESPN Stats & Information, a player has fumbled at a higher rate only four times since 1970 (minimum 10 games played). The Giants have recovered four of Jones' fumbles. But the problem is coughing up the ball, not failing to recover it.
In theory, quarterbacks can minimize their fumbles by raising their carriage point and keeping two hands on the ball. But part of avoiding fumbles, especially in the pocket, is the instinct to protect the ball when pressured. Of the three players with higher 10-game ratios than Jones', two -- Kerry Collins and Daunte Culpepper -- finished their careers ranked among the top 15 in fumbles by quarterbacks in league history. The third, Tony Banks, didn't play in enough games to get there.
Given Jones' penchant for putting it on the ground this season, the Giants have reason to be concerned about the extent to which he can fix this problem.
Excruciating QB of the Week Award: Aaron Rodgers, Green Bay Packers
Question: In the NFL's passing era, how does a quarterback drop back 41 times, make 33 throws, complete 20 of them and finish with 104 total yards?
Answer: When the opposing defense is so overwhelming, both with its pass-rush and in coverage, that the quarterback is left to check down play after play.
That's what happened Sunday to Rodgers and the Packers in their 37-8 loss to the 49ers. Rodgers threw 42.4% of his passes at or behind the line of scrimmage. Only seven of his attempts traveled farther than 10 yards past the line of scrimmage, and all seven fell incomplete. NFL Next Gen Stats calculated his expected completion percentage at 71.8%, higher than all but one Week 12 starter. Incredibly, Rodgers' 20 completions traveled a combined minus-3 yards downfield.
It's easy to wonder why Rodgers didn't simply chuck it deep more often. But he clearly felt compelled to throw earlier than he wanted to. When he wasn't taking one of five sacks, Rodgers' average time before throwing was 2.40 seconds, the quickest of any quarterback in Week 12.
Dimes of the Week Award: Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
In our midseason quarterback awards, we noted that no NFL quarterback was functioning with a higher degree of difficulty than Wilson. The expected completion rate of his throws (60.9%) was among the lowest in the league, and the differential with his actual completion rate (7.3%) was among the highest.
That trend has continued into the second half of the season and was particularly evident in Week 12, when it appeared that Wilson had a tough day during a 17-9 victory over the Eagles. He completed just over half of his passes, took six sacks and fell from No. 1 to No. 4 in this season's QBR rankings.
But it's important to take into consideration the difficulty of his attempts.
According to NFL Next Gen Stats, Wilson's expected completion rate was 49.9%, lowest in Week 12. His average pass traveled 14.5 yards in the air, the NFL's highest of the week, and 23% of his attempts were thrown into tight windows. For better or worse, Wilson wasn't looking for the easy throw.
Meanwhile, two of his completions were among the four most difficult connections of the week. One was his 33-yard scoring strike to receiver Malik Turner, which Wilson fired into a window that was bracketed by the back line of the end zone (4.8 yards away) and two defenders within a yard of the ball.
A little @Seahawks trickery in Philly.— NFL (@NFL) November 24, 2019
TOUCHDOWN, @DangeRussWilson to Malik Turner on the double pass! #Seahawks #SEAvsPHI
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The other was a 38-yard pass to receiver Tyler Lockett that converted a third down in the fourth quarter and let the Seahawks bleed an additional minute off the clock. Wilson put the ball over Lockett's shoulder in a way that Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills couldn't touch it, even though Mills was less than a yard away, per NFL Next Gen Stats.
This season, it has been difficult to avoid campaigning for president of The Russell Wilson Fan Club. But here's the moral of story: From a passing perspective, this was no off-game for the Seahawks' star.