Mayfield has ‘really, really impressed’ the Bucs
Mike Florio and Myles Simmons analyze how far Baker Mayfield can take the Bucs in their first year since Tom Brady retired and discuss how the QB has next to zero expectations.
MIKE FLORIO: Back to the Browns, we started, unplanned, talking about the Browns. And we finish this segment with a conversation about a former Browns quarterback, the number one overall pick in 2018. The future was bright. What a great start to the career, that Thursday night game against the Jets. It was awesome. Everything's looking great.
Baker Mayfield comes in after Tyrod Taylor gets banged up. And they start winning. And they create a real sense of excitement in Cleveland. And they almost get to the playoffs that year. And then 2019, things were a little screwy. 2020, everything's great, the future's even brighter. And then it all falls apart for Baker Mayfield.
Look I think Baker Mayfield, now the Buccaneers quarterback-- and the reason we're getting down this path is because Jason Licht, the GM of the Buccaneers was on SiriusXM NFL radio this week praising Baker Mayfield, talking about how impressed the Buccaneers are with him. And they should be.
This isn't a guy who has flamed out. This is a guy who hit bad circumstances two years in a row. '21, he had to go make the tackle after the interception against the Texans week two, had to be a big shot, had to be a tough guy, had to go get his shoulder busted up, right? But that's the truth.
The whole issue in '21 was he injured his shoulder. And he was too stubborn to shut it down and not play while the shoulder properly healed. Then last year, he's caught up in this game with the Browns. The Browns, I think, did him wrong. They kept him longer than they should have. He finally gets to Carolina late. And Carolina was Carolina last year. Matt Rhule gets thrown out the door. It was just a disaster last year.
So the past two years for Baker Mayfield have been a disaster. He gets a clean slate, fresh start, takes a bargain basement contract in Tampa Bay. I really do think-- I really do hold out hope that Baker Mayfield can turn it around. He could be the comeback player of the year for 2023.
MYLES SIMMONS: Yeah, he's going to come back from sucking too, although he didn't necessarily suck that much when he was with the Los Angeles Rams. I mean, I think his tenure with the Los Angeles Rams last year kind of showed that he can still be a viable option for you at quarterback.
But I mean, I don't know. Look, we saw a successful quarterback competition between a veteran and kind of an up-and-comer last year with the Seattle Seahawks when we're talking about Geno Smith and Drew Lock. But otherwise, I mean, when we're talking about quarterback competitions, that's usually not a very good thing, right?
You have two quarterbacks, you usually have two backups. And frankly, I think Kyle Trask may or may not even be a backup, right? Baker Mayfield kind of looks like a backup at this point in his career. And that's not the worst thing in the world to be when you're a backup because it means you still can be-- you're still going to have a job. You can still be employed.
But I don't really think that Baker Mayfield is going to take the Buccaneers to new heights, right? I don't see Baker Mayfield coming in there and being a Geno Smith type and leading the Buccaneers to a bunch of success for various reasons. But I just-- I don't really see that happening, Mike.
MIKE FLORIO: Well, look, they're in a division that's wide open. They're in a conference that's depleted. Now I feel like the Falcons are the favorites in the NFC South after rolling the dice on Bijan Robinson, who I think is going to transform that team into a contender. But the expectations are rock bottom for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Tommy gone.
They still have great players. They've got great receivers. They're expecting Rasheed White to become a stud running back. And there was thought that maybe Bijan Robinson falls to them and they take him. So see you later, Rasheed White. You were the three-down stud running back until we got Bijan Robinson. But no, he's the guy. He's the guy they have faith in.
And they've got Mike Evans still and Chris Godwin. So I think they believe in what they are capable of doing. The defense still has some potency. They love Kalijah Cancey, the Pitt defensive tackle who's drawn some comparisons, unfairly to him, to Aaron Donald. But I just believe that Mayfield can play like he did in 2020 when he got the Browns to the divisional round, and they gave the Chiefs, everything they could handle, as you well know.
And then they started the '21 season giving the Chiefs, week one, same place, tough draw for the Browns right out of the gates. They gave the Chiefs everything they could handle again. And then that's when it fell apart the next week in the home opener against the Texans when he injured his shoulder.
And it all fell apart. He has matured, though. I think last year, the biggest development, the biggest reason to believe he can still have a viable NFL career, he shed that punk demeanor, that entitled jerk, mean, gratuitous, nasty edge that he had to him, rebel without a cause, whatever cliche you want to use. He got away from that. I think he's learned that doesn't serve him well.
He just needs to be humble. He needs to keep quiet. He needs to focus on his business. He needs to play football. And I think we could see him have a resurgence. I really do believe he could have a resurgence this year in Tampa Bay.
MYLES SIMMONS: Well, look, if anything should humble you, it is that tenure that he had with the Carolina Panthers. And not all of that was his fault, certainly. But when you don't have any success and then you're cut and you are a former first round pick, and it ends up that you have to go to the Los Angeles Rams as a waiver wire claim, I mean, if anything should humble you, it's that.
So I mean, like I said, he had a solid tenure with the Rams last year. That game against the Raiders, clearly a highlight. I was in the building. That was one of the most electric final drives you will ever see. Then he had that really nice game against the Denver Broncos on Christmas.
That's another thing where it's a feather in his cap. And you can say, all right, this is something that maybe we can continue to go forward with. The game against the Seattle Seahawks at the end of the season too-- I mean, the Rams really gave the Seattle Seahawks all that they could handle in that contest.
So I mean, like I said, I'm not excited by this quarterback competition between a Kyle Trask and a Baker Mayfield. But who knows? I mean, maybe it does end up like a Geno Smith versus a Drew Lock like last year, and the Buccaneers end up being good, and they can sneak into a playoff spot.
MIKE FLORIO: And Dave Canales, offensive coordinator who was the quarterbacks coach last year in Seattle, can get the most out of Geno Smith to propel him to the comeback player of the year award. I'm telling you--
And I don't know what the odds are for comeback player of the year. I guess Damar Hamlin's already won it. I mean, really, all he's got to do is put on a uniform and walk onto the field once, and he's won it. So other than him, second place for comeback player of the year, Baker Mayfield has a shot to get into that win, place, show. I guess it would be place. We've got to get that straight since the Kentucky Derby this weekend, right? It's win, place, show, is that what it is? Second place is place--
MYLES SIMMONS: Yeah, I think so.
MIKE FLORIO: --for horse racing?