Sunday was a measuring stick game for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and they failed to measure up.
It was a chance for the Bucs to go up against one of the best teams in the NFC and prove themelselves as contenders, but instead they looked anything but. Mike Evans dropped some key passes, the run gam remains a total disaster, and Tampa Bay got thumped at home by the Lions.
That's the second time this season a top NFC team has cooked the Bucs in their own stadium, and it doesn't exactly make a great case for them to be taken seriously.
Baker Mayfield had his worst game since joining the Bucs, looking exactly like the type of quarterback most pundits thought he'd be this season. One bad game doesn't undo all of the progress he's made this year, but Peter King thinks it hurts his chances of winning over the Bucs front office as the quarterback of the future.
Peter King thinks Bucs might internally be turning on Baker Mayfield
King made his assessment of Mayfield's situation before Sunday's game, which makes it even more ominous in the wake of what happened.
"A bad game or two by Mayfield would make people think, and I believe even internally [at One Buc Palace] people think, ‘Uh, maybe he’s not the guy,” King said. “This is not necessarily about Baker Mayfield proving in Week 6 that he’s the long-term quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He’s gotta stack a lot of really good games together for them to not be looking for a quarterback this offseason. It’s very, very simple.”
Baker indeed had a bad game, failing to lead the offense to more than a pair of field goals. He finished the game 19-for-37 with no touchdowns and a brutal interception that flipped the game right out of the gate.
It's the second time he's looked rough against a good team, which isn't exactly promising. Not everyone is out on Mayfield -- and there's nothing to say the Bucs front office is ready to make any long-term decisions -- but the Baker Cycle seems to be repeating itself.
"The Brown gave up on him, Carolina gave up on him," King said. "Let's sort of forget this stuff about how the media was wrong about this guy ... it wasn't the media, it was a bunch of teams."
There's an element of overreaction at play, as this is all happening in Week 6; there's plenty of time left for Baker to stack the wins King mentions. A win over the Falcons on Sunday to remain in first place and a solid outing against another tough team in Buffalo will go a long way in helping his cause.
It's a fair question to start pondering, though. Mayfield has looked good against bad teams and bad against good ones, which seems to be on-par for how he's played his entire career. There's plenty of time for a breakthrough, but the clock certainly sounds like it's officially ticking.