A season ago, the Philadelphia Eagles easily made the playoffs with the No. 1 seed behind Jalen Hurts, a great defense and a favorable schedule. Their non-division matchups were the NFC North and the AFC South; A combination that is almost guaranteed to bring solid returns for any company. I say this because the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 3-1 and play the NFC North and AFC South in addition to the NFC South.
If they made the playoffs last year with a geriatric under center, they can certainly make it with some solid receivers, a defense that isn’t decimated by injuries, a litany of pissed-off opponents and Baker Mayfield.
Do not believe me? Here are the Bucs QBs’ stats in four games over the past two seasons:
Quarterback A: 106-155, 1,058 yards, 6 touchdowns, 1 pick, 68 percent completion rate
Quarterback B: 87-125, 882 yards, 7 TDs, 2 picks, 69 percent completion rate
Yes, it’s sacrilegious to compare Tom Brady (QB A) to Mayfield (B), but if you look closely, the numbers are more or less the same. The only difference is that Baker has the Bucs at 3-1 instead of 2-2 after four weeks.
After playing for Matt Rhule in exile for a year and then leaving for Los Angeles in the middle of the season, everyone rolled their eyes when Mayfield was named the starter like he was Sam Darnold or Sam Howell. The Heisman winner may not be a franchise QB, but with a talented roster and a comfortable schedule, he can put together a solid season.
He took the Cleveland Browns to the playoffs, something few quarterbacks can boast of, including current starter Deshaun Watson. Unlike the Lions, 49ers and Bills, the Bucs can theoretically compete in every remaining game, and we appear to be primed for a Baker breakout season. I posted the numbers above, but forgot to mention that Mayfield’s completion percentage is a career high, and if the offense finds some balance, the Bucs could actually crack the top 20 in points per game.
While the Eagles defeated the Bucs on Monday Night Football a few weeks ago, Todd Bowles’ team has already claimed victories over half of the NFC North and division rival New Orleans. They’re atop the South after four weeks, and this W over the Saints — aka the only other NFC South team with any semblance of a quarterback and enough talent to win games on a regular basis — could be significant.
The Tampa defense ranks in the top seven in scoring, tied with the Buffalo Bills for most forced turnovers (10), and the Bucs (+7) are second only to the Dallas Cowboys (+9). in the difference in sales as a team. All they need from the offense is a few timely plays and mistake-free football.
Mike Evans had to leave Sunday’s game early with a hamstring injury, so it will be a little more difficult to make big plays with the Pro Bowl receiver sidelined. However, Chris Godwin is back to himself and rookie receiver Trey Palmer has scored two touchdowns in his first four contests.
Many (guilty) people thought that Tampa would become irrelevant again once Tom Terrific resigned, and (guilty) glossed over the fact that this team collapsed a year ago, made the postseason three years in a row, and won the season split the last two. Confidence and culture are important, and with one matching the other, the Bucs’ hot start shouldn’t be too shocking.
https://deadspin.com/baker-mayfield-buccaneers-qb-tom-brady-1850895663 Baker Mayfield gives his best Tom Brady (45) impression for the Bucs