The Bucs had been alleged to stink with out Tom Brady. Then got here Baker Mayfield

The Bucs had been alleged to stink with out Tom Brady. Then got here Baker Mayfield

When Tom Brady lastly retired, the NFC South was set to be extensive open. In any case, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers determined to exchange maybe the perfect participant in NFL historical past with Baker Mayfield, greatest recognized for his disappointing stint with the Cleveland Browns, which ended along with his teammates’ dads weighing in on his faults and faint reward for his comedian appearing chops. The Bucs’ divisional rivals, the New Orleans Saints, had been among the many groups seeking to reap the benefits of Brady’s retirement.

Heading into the groups’ first assembly of the yr, the 2-1 Saints may take first place by defeating the Buccaneers, who had been additionally 2-1 after a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. In idea, New Orleans had the benefit at quarterback, having signed four-time Professional Bowler Derek Carr. Carr didn’t have a single landing go throughout Sunday’s 26-9 Tampa Bay victory. In distinction, Mayfield went 25-for-32 and threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns.

Mayfield’s 4 years with the Browns had been so disappointing that the staff made the past controversial determination to accumulate Deshaun Watson. Thus far, it’s a call that has not paid off. An injured Watson didn’t take the sphere for the Browns on Sunday. As a substitute, backup Dorian Thompson-Robinson threw three interceptions in a 28-3 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. However at this level, it’s clear that Cleveland’s institutional issues run deep sufficient that the mess goes past uncertainty on the QB place.

“That is solely the second time in my professional profession that I’ve had a training workers that permit me play to my full potential,” Mayfield stated after the win, earlier than crediting Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay for reviving his profession after a failed stint in Carolina. “McVay understood what I’m able to however nobody else earlier than that did.”

If this appears like Mayfield was taking a shot on the Browns, it’s as a result of there isn’t a conceivable universe the place he was not taking one. And why wouldn’t he? His profession was left for lifeless after he was labeled “not adequate to be a Cleveland Brown”. Given his present success – and the concurrent struggles of his former franchise – he has earned the suitable to take that shot.

Baker Mayfield stats

Perhaps it helps that no one is anticipating him to be the Subsequent Brady. Throughout Tampa Bay coaching camp, the truth is, it wasn’t even sure he would beat out 2021 second-rounder Kyle Trask for the beginning gig. He could not even be the long-term resolution, provided that he solely signed a one-year deal. One assumes that Mayfield is searching for a multi-year contract to be a starter someplace, one thing which might have gave the impression of a tall order simply two months in the past.

The groups he has crushed this season – the Saints, Chicago Bears and Minnesota Vikings – are hardly Tremendous Bowl contenders. However Mayfield has a 69.6% completion score this season, is on tempo to throw for 29 touchdowns and greater than 3,500 yards and is seventh amongst NFL starters in QBR score, forward of the likes of Lamar Jackson, Trevor Lawrence and Jalen Hurts. Mayfield will in all probability revert to the imply at some stage, however chances are high that Trask will stay on the bench for the foreseeable future.

MVP of the week

Stefon Diggs, WR, Buffalo Payments. Early on, the Miami Dolphins-Buffalo Payments sport regarded like it will come all the way down to which staff held the opposite to a discipline purpose first, as they traded touchdowns throughout the first half. Ultimately, nevertheless, Buffalo’s offense discovered Miami’s protection because the Payments emerged on high of the AFC East with a 48-20 victory over their rivals. A key motive? Diggs’s three receiving touchdowns. That’s the third time he has achieved the feat for the Payments, setting a brand new staff file. He additionally notched 120 receiving yards.

Stefon Diggs shares a drink with followers throughout the Payments’ win over the Dolphins. {Photograph}: Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Photos

Stat of the week

Zero. That’s what number of first-half touchdowns the Cincinnati Bengals have scored this season, a significant motive why they’re now 1-3.

In reality, no Bengal scored a landing in the staff’s 27-3 loss to the Titans (Tennessee working again Derrick Henry managed yet one more passing landing than Joe Burrow on Sunday). Whereas there may be nonetheless loads of soccer left, the Bengals are backside of the aggressive AFC North and can want a pointy turnaround to make the playoffs. It’s been a tough begin for a staff that had severe Tremendous Bowl hopes a month in the past and Burrow is clearly nonetheless not totally match.

Video of the week

The winless Minnesota Vikings discovered themselves within the gap early in opposition to the equally struggling Carolina Panthers with Kirk Cousins giving up a 99-yard pick-six. On condition that it was basically a 14-point swing to begin the sport, it felt like Minnesota had been doomed from the beginning.

Nonetheless, the Panthers additionally began the season 0-3 for a motive. Regardless of this early hiccup, the Vikings had been in a position to get better and pull off a 21-13 comeback win for his or her first victory of the season. The Panthers, in the meantime, are 0-4 and could be within the hunt for the 2024 No 1 total choose in the event that they hadn’t already traded it away – the instant future seems to be grim in Carolina.

Elsewhere across the league

The Kansas Metropolis Chiefs had been 17-0 up within the first quarter of Sunday Night time Soccer in opposition to the New York Jets and the primary query was whether or not a staff would rating 70 factors for a second week in succession. Then one thing occurred: Zach Wilson – yep, that Zach Wilson – began enjoying out of his pores and skin, and Patrick Mahomes – yep, that Patrick Mahomes – began throwing interceptions beneath strain from the very good Jets protection. By the third quarter the rating was tied at 20-20. Essential drops by the Jets, a fumble by Wilson and a questionable late penalty that negated what would have been a New York interception helped the Chiefs edge the sport 23-20. Nevertheless it was a powerful struggle by the Jets, and significantly from Wilson, who had endured the weighty scorn of the New York media for the previous couple of weeks. “He made lots of large time throws, so I used to be pleased with him to go and present out,” stated Mahomes of Wilson after the sport. The fumble apart, Wilson was wonderful, going 28 of 39 for 245 yards, two touchdowns and 0 interceptions. He was so good, the truth is, that NBC restricted itself to simply the 84 pictures of Taylor Swift whooping it up within the stands. Do we all know if Wilson is single?

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Zach Wilson … a good NFL quarterback?
Zach Wilson … a good NFL quarterback? Photograph: Adam Hunger/AP

Khalil Mack perhaps isn’t the consistent gamechanger he was when he was named the 2016 defensive player of the year. But that doesn’t mean he never changes games. He had six sacks in the Los Angeles Chargers’ 24-17 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders – the NFL single game record in seven. The Chargers had built a 24-7 lead before, in true Chargers fashion, they almost let the Raiders back in. It was mostly down to Mack – and a late Asante Samuel Jr interception – that they didn’t blow this one as they so often have in the past.

In a game between two winless teams, it looked like the Chicago Bears were about to salvage some dignity by beating up on the possibly even more flea-bitten Denver Broncos. There was good news for the Bears in the contest: Justin Fields played perhaps his best game as a professional, throwing for four touchdowns and 335 yards and staking his team a 28-7 lead.

Then, unfortunately, Chicago’s porous defense became the story of the game and allowed 24 straight points. Russell Wilson, who had been better in the first half than the scoreboard indicated, ended the game with one fewer touchdown than Fields but also one fewer interception. In this battle between a resistible force and a highly moveable object, the Broncos managed to leave with the momentum by winning 31-28 on Wil Lutz’s 51-yard game-winner.

The Bills’ win over the Dolphins came at a cost. Cornerback Tre’Davious White suffered a suspected torn achilles and the injury comes less than a year after he came back from a torn ACL. “He’s been through a lot. And sometimes you wonder, right? Why things like that happen twice, you know, to someone,” Bills head coach Sean McDermott said after the game. On a more positive note, Damar Hamlin played in his first regular-season game since his cardiac arrest.

It’s certainly been a turnaround from the time when the Jacksonville Jaguars were the NFL’s consolation prize to the UK, sent overseas to lose. The Trevor Lawrence era promises to be different and England’s unofficial Other Football team easily handled the Atlanta Falcons 23-7 on Sunday, capitalizing on two Desmond Ridder interceptions.

Ridder is apparently not making friends among his teammates. With the Falcons already down 17-0, receiver Mack Hollins did not feel it was an appropriate time to return his quarterback’s high-five. It may have not meant anything, but in a league where every bit of body language is analyzed, it became the enduring image of Atlanta’s overseas embarrassment.

The Philadelphia Eagles headed into Sunday as one of the NFL’s last undefeated teams and for a spell it looked like the Washington Commanders were going to challenge that status. Philadelphia took a late lead but surrendered it in the very last second (literally) on a touchdown throw from Sam Howell to Jahan Dotson. The Eagles won 34-31 in overtime on Jake Elliott’s field goal. Nick Sirianni’s team have an undefeated record but the Eagles head coach knows that they still have work to do.

San Francisco 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy was close to perfect in his (unbeaten) team’s 35-16 victory over the surprisingly spicy Arizona Cardinals, completing 20 of his 21 passes, throwing for one touchdown and passing for another. He had help from a four-touchdown performance by Christian McCaffrey, who ran for 106 yards and added another 71 as a receiver. As for the Cardinals, Kyler Murray isn’t coming back any time soon but Joshua Dobbs has been an able stand-in – the NFL’s greatest rocket scientist/QB had two touchdowns on Sunday and, like Purdy, has yet to throw an interception this season.

The Los Angeles Rams had a dramatic overtime win in their 29-23 defeat of the Indianapolis Colts. Puka Nacua’s offensive rookie of the year campaign continues: he had 163 receiving yards, which he capped off with the game-sealing touchdown catch in overtime.

CJ Stroud already looks like an NFL-caliber quarterback just four games into his professional career. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, he threw for 306 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions in a 30-6 home win as the Texans improved to 2-2. The Steelers meanwhile, dropped to 2-2 and may have lost their starting QB Kenny Pickett to a knee injury.

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