Bucs have to make Mayfield look like a rookie

by Gary Shelton on October 19, 2018 · 4 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Curry needs to put pressure on Mayfield./CARMEN MANDATO

Friday, 3 a.m.

They didn't stop Drew Brees. They didn't stop Matt Ryan. They didn't stop Ben Roethlisberger.

For crying out loud, they didn't even slow down Mitch Trubisky,

Five weeks into the NFL season, and frankly, the Bucs' secondary hasn't stopped anyone.  They're last in the NFL in yards allowed per games, last in the league in completion percentage and last in the league in opposing quarterbacks' rankings.

And now comes rookie sensation Baker Mayfield.

Do you think he's eager, or not?

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Mayfield, frankly, is coming off a bad game himself. Against the Chargers, he completed just 22 of 46 passes (nine were dropped) and was sacked five times.

But that's the question. While Mayfield has been sacked a lot, can the Bucs do it? While Mayfield has looked like a rookie at times, can the Bucs force that?

So far, Mayfield has shown that he has a bit of the "it" factor. Whether he, too, can burn the Bucs will be seen. He's the 27th-ranked passer as far as yardage, the 42nd-ranked passer (all passers) as far as rating.

"The work that he's put on film — you can see why he was picked where he was picked," Bucs' coach Dirk Koetter said. "This guy's going to be a really good quarterback in this league. "He can spin it. He can move around. He makes good decisions. He gets the ball out on time. He's tough. He makes plays outside of the pocket, both as a thrower and as a runner. He's impressive so far."

Still, Mayfield doesn't appear to be the threat that Brees or Ryan have been. But the Bucs' defense is still the Bucs' defense.

“I just think if you draft a guy high, they’re expecting you’re going to play them," Koetter said. "There’s exceptions to that. Aaron Rodgers, first round pick, sits for a few years. It depends on your situation and I also think that’s where – I didn’t (scout) any of the quarterbacks coming out last year — but I think that’s also where people have to do their homework on how ready do they think a guy is to come in and play and then what’s your current quarterback situation? Are you going to make him the guy when he first comes in? My own opinion is if you draft a guy that high, on the job training is best.

"I think he’s a thrower first, but he’s already proven that he can also hurt you with his legs. I didn’t do any work on him because I knew we weren’t going to pick a quarterback. What I’ve seen him do in the NFL – forget college — in the NFL I’ve been really impressed. I’ve been impressed with mainly his timing — how quick he gets it out. He hits the back of his drop, he knows where he’s going, and he gets the ball out on time.”

The Bucs will first try to stop the Cleveland running game.

"Cleveland is a run-first football team," Koetter said. "They’re fourth in the league in rushing. They’ve got the three-headed attack at running back — three really good running backs. I think Carlos Hyde is definitely having his best year since coming over from the Niners. We’ve talked in here about our own offense.

"If you can run the ball successfully, then you’re going to take your play-action game off of that. In the NFL, third down is third down. You’ve got your third down game plan, your red zone game plan, your two-minute game plan. I think it start with our defense. We have to start with how are we stopping the run and how are we — the plays the concepts that Cleveland runs they run on a consistent basis — how are you going to try to attack those?”

Cleveland coach Hue Jackson said Mayfield's learning is a rocky process.

"I said this a long time ago, quarterbacks might as well start on their knees because they are going to be brought to their knees in this league," Jackson said. "He has to bounce back and you bounce back in a good way, you lead this team to victory this week — it is what you do. Everything we are doing and everything that we are trying to accomplish is leading to that. That is the goal."

For the Bucs, Sunday's game is a big one. If they win, they can even their record at 3-3. If not, if they lose to Mayfield, then things could get rough.

Sunday's game begins at 1 p.m. at Raymond James Stadium.

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