3 Reasons Buccaneers might not repeat as NFC South Champs in 2024

It's going to be an uphill battle for the Buccaneers to win their fourth straight division championship this year.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons
Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Atlanta Falcons / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages
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Baker Mayfield doesn't mesh with Liam Coen's new scheme

Without losing any of their top-tier players in free agency, the Bucs' biggest offseason loss may have been offensive coordinator Dave Canales. After overseeing a career year from Baker Mayfield, Canales left Tampa Bay and took the Panthers' head coach job, and will look to help improve second-year quarterback Bryce Young in Carolina.

With that, Tampa Bay hired former Rams' and Kentucky Wildcats' offensive coordinator Liam Coen as their new OC in 2024. With Coen, Mayfield is set to work with his seventh different offensive coordinator in six seasons in the league, which has caused concern and doubt for how well he'll be able to grasp Coen's advanced playbook and offensive schemes.

That said, similar concerns emerged about the effectiveness of Canales when Tampa Bay hired him this time last year. Tampa Bay was Canales' first time working as an offensive coordinator, and the first team he would be working with absent of Pete Caroll, whom he worked with from 2009-2023.

During his time in Seattle, Canales was an integral piece in helping Geno Smith win the Comeback Player of the Year Award as his quarterback coach in 2022. Similarly, Coen helped oversee Matthew Stafford's stout 2021 season, where the 15-year veteran led the Rams to a Super Bowl LVI win while throwing for 4,886 passing yards, 41 touchdowns, 17 interceptions, and a 102.9 passer rating.

By working under head coach Sean McVay, Coen is accustomed to a west-coast style offense, something Mayfield is familiar with during his final two seasons in Cleveland with offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt. Mayfield was notably productive in Van Pelt's scheme, throwing for 6,573 passing yards, 43 touchdowns, 21 interceptions, and 61.7% completion with a 17-13 record in those two seasons.

Ahead of the 2024 season, Tampa Bay has surrounded Mayfield with the best-supporting cast of his career. Between two dual-threat running backs in Rachaad White and Bucky Irving, 1,000+ yard receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, 2024 third-round pick Jalen McMillan, and tight end Cade Otton, Mayfield will have no shortage of weapons to use this year.

As long as Mayfield can grasp Coen's scheme and playbook early in the season, then the Bucs' offense will be one of the most explosive in the league and his three-year, $105 million deal will be well warranted. If not, then it could be the reason for another mid-season collapse and a lack of success in the NFC South.