Baker Mayfield, Antoine Winfield Jr. lead the way as the Bucs get to 3-1 before their bye week
Well, that was fun wasn’t it? The Tampa Bay Bucs head to New Orleans to take on the Saints and not only did they win but they did it in very convincing fashion. 26-9 and sole possession of first place in the NFC South, the Bucs head into the bye to get healthy with a much hotter start than most anyone anticipated.
So, what do you say we pick six here on a victory Monday?
Six Topics Suitable For Conversation
1.) Antoine HIMfield Jr. This guy might go down as the best second round pick in Bucs history with the way he plays. He was playing at an All-Pro caliber level last year before injuries derailed his season. Now, he’s only the team leader in tackles to go along with his two forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, four passes defensed, and two sacks. Not only is he dominating and is arguably the best safety in the league through four weeks, but he single-handedly changed this game. After a Mayfield interception, the Saints ran the ball from their own 1-yard line – then Winfield Jr. used the “Peanut Punch” to knock the ball out and recover it at the Saints’ 6-yard line. That led to a Mayfield to Trey Palmer touchdown pass to put the Bucs up 14-3 at halftime. Winfield followed that up with the biggest pass breakup of the game when Derek Carr threw a 50-yard pass to Chris Olave in the end zone on third down. Instead of cutting the lead to 14-10, the Saints had to punt. Winfield is absolutely dominating from every level of the defense right now.
2.) Baker’s The Man. Outside of a few rogue holdouts that will never change their mind, Baker Mayfield has basically won over every member of the Bucs’ fanbase with his play. He’s hands-down the best quarterback in the division and is exceeding expectations across the board. His 246 yards, 3 touchdowns, 116.9 quarterback rating, 93.0 QBR, and 78.1% completion percentage were all season bests for him – and he did it, by and large, without Mike Evans who left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. However, it’s not just that. It’s the attitude, determination, and passion that he’s playing with. He’s running for first downs – and bowling over defenders in the process – he’s making smart decisions, he’s converting third downs better than any other quarterback in the league. For someone who was written off, ridiculed, bashed, doubted, and dismissed, Baker Mayfield is putting the NFL on notice that he’s for real – and so are the Bucs.
3.) Bye Week Blues. When the schedule was released, many were irritated by the Bucs’ early bye week. Now, it couldn’t come at a better time. Mike Evans, Ryan Neal, Jamel Dean all missed at least part of the Saints game with injuries. Calijah Kancey and SirVocea Dennis have both been out since week one. Devin White, Vita Vea, and Carlton Davis are all still dealing with injuries. These Bucs may be starting to click, but they’re also beat up and in desperate need of rest. It was great to see Carlton Davis come back and shut down Chris Olave – and luckily that toe injury wasn’t reaggravated – but think of how much better this team is going to be with all those guys back on the field. Kancey was certainly a bright spot when he was on the field against the Vikings and the entire complexion of the defensive line changes with his speed and strength out there. It’s going to make for a long thirteen week stretch, but these Bucs need to rest up and get healthy.
4.) Luke GOATeke. Okay, maybe this one is a bit of a stretch, but give this man his flowers. Goedeke was the punching bag of Bucs critics all season long last year and even though the offensive line has its struggles each week, Goedeke deserves some praise for his performance Sunday. Cam Jordan – everyone’s least favorite loud mouth – was rather vocal about the fact that the Bucs were going to “return to where they’ve always been,” after Tom Brady retired, implying they’re headed back to the basement of the NFC South. Well, Jordan was stifled by Goedeke on Sunday – registering only four tackles, zero of which were sacks or tackles for loss. Yes, you read that right. The Saints’ poster boy of smack talk was stonewalled by Luke Goedeke. It’s enough to bring a tear to your eye.
5.) Mike Evans’ Big Day Cut Short. I already mentioned that Evans left the game in the second quarter with a hamstring injury. He worked it out with the trainers, got on the stationary bike, did all he could to get back on the field. However, it wasn’t worth the risk and he sat out the remainder of the game. What was really disappointing about that is he was dominating Marshon Lattimore through the first half. Three targets, three receptions, 40 yards – and at one point he beat Lattimore off the line so badly that Lattimore just straight up tackled him and got flagged for pass interference (see the tweet later in the column if you didn’t see the play) – then in typical Lattimore fashion, had the audacity to complain about it. Evans was cooking while Baker was baking and it was fun to watch. Makes you wonder how big of a day Evans could have had against an overmatched Lattimore on Sunday. Also, I would still spend an irresponsible amount of money for tickets to a charity boxing match between those two.
6.) Rivalry? What Rivalry? The aforementioned Cam Jordan said once that the Bucs and Saints aren’t much of a rivalry, because in order for it to be a rivalry then both teams have to win. At the time, he was referring to how one-sided things had been in the Saints’ favor. Since then, the Bucs have won a Super Bowl – beating the Saints in New Orleans on their way to that game – and the NFC South twice. Now, since Todd Bowles became head coach, the Bucs are 3-0 against the Saints, outscoring them 62-36 and winning the turnover battle 11-3 in the process. Guess Cam Jordan is right – they’re much more competitive against someone like the Falcons who are more on their level.
Six Numbers To Consider
12 – Consecutive games where the Saints didn’t allow more than 20 points – snapped by the Bucs
19 – Career 100-yard games by Chris Godwin, second most in Bucs history (Evans – 34)
2 – Games with 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery by Antoine Winfield Jr. since 2020 – tied for the NFL lead along with Shaq Barrett
33 – Yards by Alvin Kamara on his 13 receptions, the lowest output of any of the 200 times a player has had 13 or more receptions in NFL history
197 – Total yards by the Saints offense, the lowest total in the two team’s 63 meetings
Six Best Tweets
Aging like milk
— David Schiele WTSP (@Deacon_Schiele) October 1, 2023
Winston in and immediately throws an interception. Flag down. Holding on the Saints. Bucs take over pic.twitter.com/EEbhiowls4
— Bucs Nation (@Bucs_Nation) October 1, 2023
— Dov Kleiman (@NFL_DovKleiman) October 1, 2023
That late hit on Baker needs to be a fine. Dangerously awful hit. pic.twitter.com/rmNo1n0FQi
— Evan Closky (@ECloskyWTSP) October 1, 2023
NFC South QBs through 4 games
882 Yards, 7 TD, 2 INT, 101.5 Rating
763 Yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 80.1 Rating
744 Yards, 3 TD, 3 INT, 77.9 Rating
503 Yards, 2 TD, 2 INT, 75.0 Rating pic.twitter.com/SiADPwHYH5
— matt (@OCPDesigns) October 1, 2023
Baker is Baking.
— NFL (@NFL) October 1, 2023
NOTE: Watch the video above and keep an eye on Cam Jordan against Luke Goedeke on this play in particular. Phenomenal stuff.
Six Super Bowl Bets
1.) San Francisco 49ers – They’re just so good
2.) Miami Dolphins – Little reality check against the Bills
3.) Kansas City Chiefs – Something something Travis Kelce something Taylor Swift something something
4.) Philadelphia Eagles – Undefeated still, despite the close call against Washington
5.) Buffalo Bills – Started to get in a groove
11.) Tampa Bay Bucs – Get healthy and keep winning