Loser: Baker Mayfield
It took five games, but Baker Mayfield finally looked like the quarterback all of the doubters thought he’d be this offseason. Baker was brutal, barely completing 50 percent of his passes and failing to score a touchdown. There were no angry runs, not a lick of trash talk, and a ton of frustration as the offense failed to support the defense in its efforts on Sunday.
Baker admitted as much after the game, owning the loss and taking blame for how poorly the offense played. He also called the unit out, stating plainly that it needed to do a better job of carrying weight that the defense and special teams unit already was.
“We sucked today. I sucked today, we sucked today. It was awful,” Mayfield said after the loss. “Defense and special teams did an amazing job yet again. And [on] offense we just need to pick our sh— up.”
He’s not wrong, as the Bucs were atrocious all over the place on offense. Tampa Bay went 2-for-12 on third down and finished the game with less than 300 yards of total offense. Baker had a momentum-shifting interception on the Bucs second drive of the game, and the run game continued to look like the worst unit in the league.
It was a total offensive failure, and that’s something Baker needs to wear. The buck stops with him, and if he’s going to get praised for his gutsy performances in wins he needs to take the blame for when things go wrong. He simply could not turn the offense around at all on Sunday which is why it should come as no surprise that the team only mustered up six points the entire game.
Loser: Mike Evans
There’s a troubling trend emerging this season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In the team’s two losses, Mike Evans failed to get involved and made critical mistakes that zapped momentum and prevent the team from finding a rhythm.
When the Bucs lost to Philadelphia back in Week 3, Evans had three brutal drops including one that would have been a touchdown. Had Evans made that touchdown catch, the Bucs would have taken an early lead and might have been able to power themselves to the sort of upset the New York Jets pulled off on Sunday.
Evans did get involved in the wins over Minnesota and Chicago, using big catches to jumpstart the offense and help Baker Mayfield find a groove. He started to cook in the Week 4 win over New Orleans until a hamstring injury knocked him out, but there’s reason to believe that if it hadn’t he would have caught the touchdown pass Trey Palmer did before halftime.
As Evans goes, so goes the Bucs. When he falters, the Bucs offense follows suit like clockwork.
He can’t be faulted for the tipped pass that led to Baker’s interception on the second drive of the game for Tampa Bay but it’s notable that he was the target on a play that broke against the Bucs and set them back. What Evans can be blamed for is a foolish pass interference penalty later in the game that had a negative impact on the offense.
Evans was flagged for pass interference on a 3rd and 1 on the Bucs first drive after halftime. The score was still 10-3 at this point and Tampa Bay had the ball on Detroit’s 8-yard line. The flag not only came on a play where Evans missed a touchdown pass that would have tied the game, but it backed the Bucs up and forced them to kick a field goal.
That play was eerily similar to the game changing drop Evans had in the endzone in the loss to Philly. It’s a concerning pattern that is being established, and the Bucs need their best player to step up in moments like that. Evans wants a new contract, but games like the one he had today — and the negative impact he had on his team — aren’t the best sales pitch.