Sunday was a tough day for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers haters, as Baker Mayfield came out and led the team to an upset win on the road over the Minnesota Vikings.
There's a shot of Justin Jefferson sitting on the bench and looking utterly demoralized as the game went final. That was everyone who counted the Bucs out or spent the entire offseason sleeping on the team. It's only one game, but Tampa Bay looked entirely unlike a team that is tanking for a top draft pick and more like a team that could become a sleeper contender as the season progresses.
A lot of work still needs to be done, but it seems like the right pieces are in place.
Proof of this was not only seen in the Bucs gutsy second half performance in Minnesota, but in what happened during halftime adjustments. The game was tied 10-10 at the half, but the Bucs didn't exactly look like world-beaters on offense over the first two quarters.
As it turns out, the slow start was merely a speed bump. Baker not only got things together in the second half but one of his teammates has revealed what happened in the Bucs locker room to get everyone so fired up.
Rachaad White says Baker Mayfield figured out Vikings signals by halftime
One of the biggest takeaways from the Week 1 win was how the Bucs made halftime adjustments. That seems rudementary but given how little it happened last year it's a pretty massive step forward for the team.
It also worked.
Rachaad White talked about the win and revealed that Baker told the team he had figured out the Vikings defensive signals in less than a full quarter of possession time.
“I just remember Bake came in the locker room, literally at halftime, he said, ‘I got it. We got all these signals,'” White said, via JoeBucsFan. “We’re in there talking as an offense and he’s like, ‘I know all these signals. If they do this, they’re going into Cover 2. If they do this, they’re going into Cover 3. Every time I alert this and they do this signal, they’re dropping back to this.’ And I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ … I was just listening to him and we were listening to him and we just kind of understood.”
Holy cow, that rules so hard.
It also flies in the face of the harsh criticism that was pointed at Mayfield all offseason long. Pundits like Colin Cowherd bashed Baker -- sometimes out of the blue -- to help fill airtime during the summer, but it took the quarterback less than a week to prove them all wrong.
His leadership was called into question, his football IQ was mocked, and Mayfield was generally written off as soon as the ink was dry on his contract with the Bucs. That wasn't the guy who showed up in Week 1, and Baker gave every indication that he's unlocking the No. 1 overall pick potential he showed flashes of in Cleveland and while he was still at Oklahoma.
Rick Spielman visited the Bucs during minicamp and picked them to be a surprise team this year while everyone else was sleeping on them. He also got the impression that the Baker-Bucs relationship is one that both sides want to be long-term. Mayfield said as much when asked why he signed in Tampa Bay and his future was taken into consideration when the team didn't give Mike Evans a contract extension.
It's only one week, but already it's looking like Baker and the Bucs are an unlikely pairing that might have found each other at the exact right time.