Case in point, Sunday’s overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Mayfield is hit in the helmet by Buccaneers defensive back Jordan Whitehead, who led with his helmet. Officials threw the flag immediately after the play is over. After some discussion, referee Shawn Hochuli rules there is no foul because Mayfield did not begin his slide yet. Replay disputes that. League officials are aware of the hit. The league is likely going to fine Whitehead for the hit.
#NFL admitting they goofed (again) on the @bakermayfield helmet hit .. Is this part of a 12 step recovery process for deeper problem . Step 1..apologize Step 2…write a letter to those you have wronged . Etc #browns
— .@JohnTelich8 (@JohnTelich8) October 24, 2018
Mayfield addressed the issue on Wednesday.
"I didn't hear it at the time because I was so fuming mad – but to hear the ref say he's allowed to be hit in the head? I thought that's why they put in the rule but we'll see."
– @BakerMayfield pic.twitter.com/F97MvgpTfh
— FOX Sports Cleveland (@FOXSportsCLE) October 24, 2018
“I did not hear it at the time. I was so fuming mad to hear the ref say he was allowed to be hit in the head,” Mayfield said. “That is why they put in the rule, but we will see. No words honestly. No words.”
It’s a good thing Baker did not have to into the blue medical tent following the play. It could have resulted in a concussion.
“I will be alright, yeah,” Mayfield said.
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 24, 2018
Baker has the support of his teammates and head coach in defense of the hit.
“It confused us, but in the heat of the moment, you have to go out there and try to finish the drive,” left guard Joel Bitonio said. “Afterwards, you are a little bit downtrodden about it. It is upsetting, especially when they are trying to protect quarterbacks at all costs, but it is what it is.”
“I thought he played it well,” head coach Hue Jackson said. “I thought he ran and got as much as he can. He started to slide and he got hit. There has to be protection for him there, and that is what we all felt and thought so we have to continue to work through that.”
It brings into debate the issue of targeting into the NFL. It’s a controversial issue in college football, but is it a good idea to implement it into the NFL?
“I do not want to get into too much that, but I will say this – I just think that we have to officiate it the right way,” Jackson said. “We have to see it for what it is and make the call. I think that the league and the officials want to get it right so to me anything that is questionable in that way. I just think that you take a real good look at it. Let’s not just move on from it. Even if you have to review it, let’s make sure that those things are correct. Those calls are being made when it is something that is that vicious, that kind of hit, especially on a quarterback.”
“I definitely know it affected our team [at Oklahoma],” Mayfield said. “Anytime you have guys that are flying around trying to impose their will on an offense and a hit like that could take them out of not only that second half but then the first half of the next game. That could affect a lot of guys. I do not know. It is something you could think about. It is just everybody implies the rules differently. I do not know.”