Bucs’ Mayfield has saved his career

by Gary Shelton on January 18, 2024

in general

Mayfield ois Bucs' best hope./TIM WIRT

Thursday, 4 a.m.

Once again, he lives in the highlight films. That’s him balling, and that’s him beaming. His comeback tour has led him here, to the head of the class in Tampa Bay.

And even now, the amazing part of his story is just how far he has come.

Remember that. The incredible journey of Baker Mayfield started in a dumpster, with a resume that suggested he was a washout. Three teams were glad to see the back of Mayfield, and when he came to Tampa on a cut-rate contract, he was not the popular choice. 

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The expectations were low, the resume was weak, and the team had flaws. From the outside, Mayfield had the look of a quarterback who had struck out. Even locally, the popular view was to pull for seldom-used backup Kyle Trask. Fans were still yelling his name well into the season.

But game by game, play by play, Mayfield won his team over. He has won 10 times this season, most notably the victory over Philadelphia on Monday night. In a loss to Houston, he gave his team the lead before the defense gave it away in the final minute. Against Atlanta, he brought his team to a tie before the defense gave it away, again in the last minute.

He has been gritty, tough, fiery. No, even now, he is not everything you want in a quarterback. But he’s enough.

Really, what more could you have expected from Mayfield?

He threw for more yards than Jalen Hurts, than Matthew Stafford, than Lamar Jackson.

He threw for more touchdowns than Patrick Mahomes, than Russell Wilson,  than Derek Carr.

He threw fewer interceptions than Tua Tagovailoa, than Josh Allen, than Trevor Lawrence.

He had a higher rating than Justin Herbert, than Joe Burrow, than Deshaun Watson.

In total, he was the best bargain in the NFL, a spark plug of a player who has earned his keep.

Look, there is no way you can compare Mayfield’s career to that of Brady, the man who drove the Bucs’ car before he did. But if you compare Mayfield’s last season to Brady’s last one, well, it’s a competition. Brady, too, was a victim of a weak running game and a leaky secondary. But Brady’s quarterback rating was 90.7. Mayfield’s was 94.4. Mayfield threw for three more touchdowns. Brady had more yardage.

Mayfield had more wins.

So appreciate what he has brought. He has re-invented himself, and redefined his team. He has given you more than you had any right to expect.

Now, he faces Detroit on the road. Of course, the Bucs will be underdogs. Again, they’ll depend on big plays to win.

Around here, Mayfield is in charge of those.

The incredible journey started in a dumpster. That’s where the Bucs found Baker Mayfield, who had worn out his welcome in Cleveland, in Carolina, in Los Angeles.

He came with low expectations, into a quarterback  competition where more fans seemed willing to vote for the other guy. He replaced the best quarterback of them all

And he improved the position.

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