Baker Mayfield took over for Tom Brady for the Buccaneers. He has a special role in the season-opening win over the Vikings.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a 20-17 win over the Minnesota Vikings in his debut as the successor to legend Tom Brady.
The 28-year-old showed a marked improvement, especially in the second half. This was also due to the fact that the playmaker was able to decipher the Vikings defence’s pass coverage based on their hand signals.
“I just remember Baker literally coming into the locker room at halftime and saying, ‘I got it.’ We got all their signals,” running back Rachaad White is quoted as saying in an interview with “Bucs Total Access” on the team’s website.
“We were talking inside as an offense and he said, ‘I know all their signals.’ If they do this, they go to Cover 2. If they do that, they go to Cover 3. Every time I give this signal and they make this signal, they switch back to the other one,'” White continued:
“I said to him, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ We just listened to him and just kind of got it. “
After starting the game weakly, completing three of 11 successful passes for 12 yards, Mayfield, the first pick in the 2018 draft, found his stride as the game progressed, completing 18 of 23 passes for 161 yards and two touchdowns with no turnovers.
Mayfield improves against Vikings after weak start
“When it comes down to it, you always try to identify tendencies of the defense,” Mayfield explained. “With in-game adjustments, you try to find those signs and sometimes it’s a little bit different than others. That’s why, like I said after the game, it was a chess game in the first half with some stalled drives.”
The Vikings presented Tampa Bay with a tough task. “They did a very, very good job and I can’t praise Brian Flores enough for the way they lined up against us. It took us a little bit to adjust, but you try to take every advantage you can,” the playmaker continued.
How much has interpreting the signals helped him in this regard? “Quite a lot,” Mayfield pointed out. He doesn’t think deciphering the defence’s “code” is reprehensible, however.
“I know we’re in Tampa, but I’m a Texas Rangers fan, not a Houston Astros fan. So we’re not going to go into that,” he said, referring to the MLB team’s scandal that gained an unfair competitive advantage in winning the 2017 World Series by using cameras to steal signals from opponents.
Mayfield feels very comfortable in Bucs offense
The relief, as well as validation for himself, at still having pulled off the turnaround against Minnesota was clear on Mayfield’s face after his successful debut. “Good stats, right?” he told members of the media with a grin during the week.
After years of fluctuating performances and multiple franchise changes, Mayfield seems to have really hit his stride with the Bucs after just a few months and is noticeably comfortable in Tampa’s offense.
“I think it’s the experience and also the fact that I trust the system that Dave has put in place,” the quarterback explained.
“Three out of 11? That’s what I call starting at the bottom. We’ve just got to keep going and trust the system, not force it and let the game come to us. “Mayfield emphasised confidence in his and his teammates’ abilities. “We knew how well our defence was playing.”
The mantra was thus to “not make mistakes and let the game come to us, then good things would happen. “
Buccaneers: Mayfield urges patience despite opening win
Special praise for his good decision-making also came from head coach Todd Bowles: “Baker’s nerve was evident in the way he played. The throws he threw away that didn’t turn into turnovers were just as impressive as the ones he put up.”
Mayfield, however, is not fazed by the opening success. For there is still a lot of work ahead of the team if they are to make the playoffs again. “Our guiding principle at the moment is resilience. We just didn’t start well at all and left so much behind. We have to be able to adjust, be resilient and definitely not hit the panic button.”
Although expectations are high for the Brady heir, the one-time top pick firmly believes in his team’s potential and is optimistic about the future, “A resilient, tenacious mentality is what I’ve noticed with this team. Hopefully we can continue to improve and just get better over four quarters. “