Baker Mayfield fires back at experts picking against Buccaneers to win NFC South

The veteran quarterback seems to not be fazed by a lack of support or belief in Tampa Bay to win their fourth-straight division title.
Jacksonville Jaguars v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jacksonville Jaguars v Tampa Bay Buccaneers / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

As experts begin making their preseason predictions, it's worth noting that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were left out of that distinction of finishing the season as division winners.

After a 7-10 campaign last year, the Falcons addressed and improved the quarterback position, their biggest weakness. In free agency, Atlanta signed veteran Kirk Cousins to a four-year, $180 million deal and selected Washington's Michael Penix with the No. 8 pick in the draft, while traded Desmond Ridder to Arizona.

Under the play of Cousins and potentially Penix at quarterback, several outlets project Atlanta to be one of the NFL's most improved teams this season. Still, Tampa Bay managed to return all of their stars after winning their third straight division and advancing to the NFC Divisional round.

Baker Mayfield claps back at experts picking against the Buccaneers this year

Amid all of the offseason chatter, the Buccaneers have remained unfazed and continue to work toward their goal of winning the NFC South. Baker Mayfield has heard the criticism -- again -- and isn't having any of it.

“It doesn't matter, it's pretty much right where they had us last year," Mayfield said. "Nobody's played it down yet, we're all working for the same goal but mentality-wise this team, we're hungry, we're back at it. At this point, it's pretty much expected for people to underestimate the Bucs. but we just put our heads down and work.”

Unlike Atlanta, Tampa Bay didn't make any splashy moves this offseason, but returned the majority of their core from last season, including Mayfield, Mike Evans, Lavonte David, Antoine Winfield Jr., and Chase McLaughlin. Coupled with strong under-the-radar signings in free agency and a promising draft class, and the Buccaneers are set up to replicate last season's success.

That said, the Bucs did lose offensive coordinator Dave Canales who oversaw Mayfield's resurgent campaign in 2023. Instead, Canales took the Panthers' head coach job, and Mayfield is set to work with former Rams' and Kentucky Wildcats' offensive coordinator Liam Coen.

With that, Coen marks Mayfield's seventh different offensive coordinator in six seasons, causing concern for how well he'll be able to grasp Coen's advanced playbook and offensive schemes. After Tuesday's OTAs, Mayfield spoke to the media and discussed his thoughts on Coen's new offense.

"It's a lot of, obviously, continuing the chemistry that we've had with some of the skill guys from last year [and] carrying that over. And then just, offensively, scheme-wise, getting everybody on the same page," Mayfield said. "It's really awesome that we have everybody here on offense, just going through that. Everybody's hearing it; we're all talking about, learning from good and bad plays."

Overall, a lack of unity between Mayfield and Coen would be the only valid reason for Tampa Bay to struggle to replicate success in 2024. Throughout OTAs and mandatory practice, all seems well between the two, and the Bucs offense may even be better than it was with Canales under charge.

More Tampa Bay Buccaneers news and rumors