Is Baker Mayfield’s height to blame for his passes getting batted down?

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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Carolina Panthers quarterback Baker Mayfield is considered short by league standards for his position. Mayfield is listed at 6’1, but at the 2018 NFL combine was officially 6 feet and 5/8ths inches.

But he wasn’t short on jokes Wednesday when asked what he could do to avoid having four passes batted down at the line of scrimmage as he did in Sunday’s 26-24 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

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“Well, an inverted table a little bit, stretch out, get taller … thanks mom and dad,” Mayfield deadpanned.

Seriously, this is a problem.

Mayfield has had nine passes batted down at the line in his last two starts. He had five swatted away by the Pittsburgh Steelers in his last start for the Browns in January before sitting out the season finale.

His 48 passes batted down at the line are the most in the NFL since Cleveland made him the top pick of the 2018 draft. Next is Indianapolis’ Matt Ryan.

Ryan is 6’4″, so maybe the issue isn’t height in a league where the average for quarterbacks is 6’3″.

Still, on a per-pass level, Mayfield’s 2.46 percent passes batted down mark is the second-highest rate in the league among the 30 quarterbacks that have attempted at least 1,000 passes since 2018. The only quarterback with a higher percentage over that span is 6’5″ Cam Newton at 2.56 percent.

In terms of most passes batted down per game, Mayfield’s 1.04 average is the fifth highest since 2018 behind Minnesota’s Kirk Cousins (6’3″), Ryan and Arizona’s Kyler Murray (5’10”).

“It comes down to finding windows,” Mayfield said. “I know how those guys are preparing in that building [in Cleveland], how they see the footwork they stop and get their hands up.

“It’s also maybe being on the same page with our O-line. Getting their heads down, finding windows, because every once in a while things are going to happen and I’m going to have to find a lane.”

That was pretty much what coach Matt Rhule suggested had to happen before Sunday’s game against the New York Giants.

“Our line had to do a great job of driving out, making sure the pocket is really a firm pocket,” he said. “That’s a huge challenge this week. Baker has to do a great job of sliding, finding windows when they’re open.

“As the game went on we got more comfortable. One of them even happened on a naked [bootleg]. We feel really good about the direction Baker and the offensive line, that relationship they have in the pocket together is going. We just technically need to improve.”

Since Mayfield isn’t going to get taller, they’ll have to.