NFL’s Most Surprising 2-0 Team Has the League’s Third-Ranked Quarterback

Baker Mayfield is playing for his fourth team in two seasons but seeing great success with Tampa Bay

Baker Mayfield of the Buccaneers warms up prior to a game.
Baker Mayfield is off to a great start with the Bucs.
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If you examine the current odds for who will be named NFL MVP, Tua Tagovailoa and Patrick Mahomes are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 on the list, followed by Josh Allen, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson, all quarterbacks. That’s somewhat intriguing because if you look at the grades Pro Football Focus has assigned to the league’s top quarterbacks from the last two weeks of play, Tagovailoa and Mahomes also grade out at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively.

However, PFF’s third-ranked quarterback is not even in the top 30 when it comes to the odds of potentially being voted MVP, and he comes in behind quarterbacks including Justin Fields, Mac Jones and Kirk Cousins, all of who have yet to win a game this season. Somewhat amazingly, considering he is basically playing for his fourth team in two seasons, PFF has former Brown, Panther and Ram QB Baker Mayfield ranked as the third-best quarterback in the NFL.

In case you forgot, Mayfield replaced Tom Brady as the starting quarterback for the Buccaneers this season, and the former No. 1 overall pick out of the University of Oklahoma has led Tampa Bay to two straight wins to start the season. The Bucs were not projected to be very good this season (they were a playoff team last season despite finishing with an 8-9 record in the putrid NFC South) but have nonetheless gone undefeated to open this year with an upset win over the Vikings and a solid victory over the Bears.

In the latter game, Mayfield completed 26 of 34 passes for 317 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in a 27-17 win for the Buccaneers. The 28-year-old also rushed six times for 17 yards and recovered a fumble in his first 300-yard effort since Week 5 of the 2021 season. Turnover-free to start the season, Mayfield appears to have gotten his mojo back in the pressure-free environment of Tampa Bay and is thoroughly outplaying the quarterback who replaced him in Cleveland, Deshaun Watson.

Mayfield and the Bucs will have a real test coming up in Week 3, as they are slated to take on the reigning champion Eagles on Monday Night Football. USA Today, which has Tampa Bay ranked as the worst of the NFL’s 2-0 teams, does not have much confidence in the Buccaneers being able to knock off Philadelphia or any other quality opponent moving forward.

“This outfit feels bound for a regression to the mean, especially with defenses more formidable than those of the Vikings and Chicago Bears ahead,” per the publication. “Mayfield’s moxie can only carry this offense so far, and a first-place schedule puts them at a disadvantage relative to their NFC South competition. Keep them in the mix for the division for now, but Todd Bowles’ crew still has to prove it has staying power.”

If nothing else, Mayfield has already proved he deserved to stay in the NFL as a starting quarterback.

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