When the Buccaneers signed Baker Mayfield to a one-year deal this offseason, the news was met with heavy skepticism at best. He was seen as a full-fledged NFL Draft bust. Yet, entering Week 6 of this season, Mayfield has the Bucs in 1st place thinking of big things.
When you look at the profile of Mayfield his physical tools are not elite. He does not have the physical gifts of Justin Herbert or Lamar Jackson.
He doesn't possess the accuracy of Patrick Mahomes or the rocket arm of Josh Allen. However, what he does possess is something that is hard to quantify, heart and guts.
While that may sound like an extreme cliché, it is a very real thing. Football is a violent sport that makes leaders out of various players. Mayfield obviously has a rounded set of skills, but his willingness to leave everything on the field is what sets him apart.
During his career to this point, Mayfield has had more offensvie coordinators than years he's played in the league. For a player in his 6th season that is not an ideal situation for any quarterback.
Thus far, his pairing with new Bucs OC Dave Canales has seemed to be a great fit. Canales employs a more balanced offense that also allows Baker to get out of the pocket and make the easy throws that every quarterback loves.
While the Buccaneers offense has not been the most aesthetically pleasing to watch this season, they are gritting their way through tough moments.
Every single time Mayfield gets hammered and he pops back up that fires up his teammates. In the win over the Bears, he avoided multiple would be sacks from Yannick Ngakoue where he simply refused to go down.
Couple this with unscheduled scrambles where he is willing to throw his shoulder into the defense or throw his body around and you have a guy who shows his team what the standard is when you're on the field in the pewter and white.
Coming off a bye week to get further comfortable with the offense and heading into an unexpected NFC late afternoon showdown with the Detroit Lions, Mayfield will have another chance to prove himself to the coaches.
However, at this point it appears the team has fully bought into the full Baker experience. The only difference, in recent times the Baker experience usually meant a lot of turnovers and a stalled offense.
That is no longer the case as Mayfield has put the talks of a Bucs tank to bed. He has the best weapons he has ever had in his career around him and a stable coaching staff that encourages him to be himself.
Each passing week that I watch Mayfield get bent in half and still throw a touchdown, create an inpomptu scramble or just fire up the guys on the sideline I think Jason Licht might have gotten a steal.
There's still a lot of football left, but for now, the Baker intangibles are on full display and Tampa Bay is a better football team for them. Long may it continue.