Dan Graziano: “Overreaction” To Say Bucs Outsmarted NFL By Signing Baker Mayfield

September 20th, 2023

Bucs QB Baker Mayfield.

If you think Baker Mayfield has validated the trust Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht and Todd Bowles have put in him with two weeks of strong play, well, Dan Graziano has a few words for you.

Its actually one word in particular: “Overraction.”

Before Week 1, Graziano make it clear he didn’t believe Mayfield would amount to a hill of beans, and if anything he would guide the Bucs in their quest for University of Southern California quarterback Caleb Williams (#CollaspeForCaleb).

Mayfield posted solid numbers the first two weeks of the season leading the Bucs to 2-0, but unlike Peter King and CBS columnist Conor Orr, who admitted they were wrong about Mayfield’s Bucs, Graziano has dug in his heels.


I went back and forth on this verdict. Mayfield has Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as his top receivers, and that’s going to help anybody. It’s not as though Mayfield has never had success in the league; he won a playoff game with the Browns, for goodness’ sake. But two weeks ago, nobody had the Bucs as a real playoff contender. A pair of wins against struggling NFC North teams shouldn’t be enough to change your mind on that.

Tampa Bay’s next five games are against the Eagles, Saints, Lions, Falcons and Bills. If the Bucs are 5-2 or better when that stretch is over, I promise we will talk about this again.

Even though history and select stats suggest the Bucs are headed to the playoffs, Joe understands things could unravel. Remember when the Bucs beat Drew Brees and the slimy Saints at home in Week 6 in 2011, raising their record to 4-2?

Who knew that when the Bucs a few hours later boarded Jet Glazer to London, the Bucs would never see another win that season?

The Bucs at 2-0 is great. But they have to keep it up. Not getting embarrassed by Philadelphia on Monday night would go a long way toward building more street cred.

41 Responses to “Dan Graziano: “Overreaction” To Say Bucs Outsmarted NFL By Signing Baker Mayfield”

  1. Todd Says:

    Bucs will be 7-0, champ.

  2. Ricki Says:

    He must have forgotten that we signed Evans and Godwin last minute.

  3. Tszerik Says:

    Canales gets ignored hard by the media. The past week was the first time I’ve seen someone mention his outside of Bucs media.

    QB performs better under an OC that just last season massively helped another QB on a surprise Comeback? What sorcery!

    They will learn.

  4. stpetebucfan Says:


    You’re obviously better connected than us at OBP. I’m curious as what happened to Vaughn.

    I get that his production has not been awesome but it seems like he’s truly in the doghouse. Is attitude, or work ethic a problem. It seems like Vaughn has really taken a wizz in Bowles Cheerios.

  5. Infomeplease Says:

    I know TB and DC won’t let the 2 and 0 start go to the players heads. This game is a great test of both the offense and defense! The Buc’s need to bring their A game if they have any hope of winning this one. If the trenches can produce on both sides of the ball the game will be interesting. We’ll see how that goes.

  6. BucU Says:

    Wish I didn’t hear the word playoffs being tossed around already. I guarantee inside that locker room they’re not using that word at all.
    That’s for the media and fans to banter around. It’s meaningless at this time.

  7. Jack Burton Mercer Says:

    Mayfield had the right price tag for us. I have no problem calling it a lucky pickup given the circumstances. Who else looked like as good an option at the time? Maybe someone remembers who else was available. Mayfield has played very good, not great, but very good has won super bowls.

    I have a hypothesis that Baker needs to be liked, and feel wanted, to play well. No one wanted him in Charlotte and for some reason they quit liking him that last year in Cleveland. He gets here, the coaches love him, the players seem to and most fans are open minded. He’s in a good situation. I think he can handle adversity on the field, not so much in the locker room and from the fans.

  8. Cobraboy Says:

    Wheels can always fall off.

    I cringe when anyone uses the words “Bucs” and “playoffs” in the same sentence two weeks in. Check back in in week 14.

    I remember when casuals were giddy with 5-dash-2 in 1995? How did that season turn out? On the positive side, that 5-dash-2 brought Marcus Jone, Mark Alstott, and Donnie Abraham to Tampa.

  9. CHRISTOS Says:

    Overreaction season is on as always and will conitnue to be.
    I dont get it honestly.
    Have our Bucs played 2 games of great football, no… Solid football without big mistakes, yes. Its early in the season and every team will be different in 4 weeks.
    Are the Bucs 2-0, yes.. But why we are talking about playoffs in week 2? Seriously (entered the Jim Mora playoff rant).
    Guys come on, its week 2 lets just see how our Bucs will play football a few more weeks before we have these conversations.
    Go Bucs

  10. KC Buc Says:

    I anticipate the Bucs beating the Eagles and losing to the Saints. I think our boys have a chip on their shoulder and have much more to prove than the Eagles, plus it’s a home game I think we pull it off. Then the hangover bites us in NOLA before the bye.

    I don’t think Licht & Friends “outsmarted” the NFL either. I think we would have competed for Carr too if we had the cheese because he’s a safer bet (keeps jobs) with a high floor even if he’s got a low ceiling. I do however think that Baker for $4M was an absolute steal and he has a higher ceiling. Around Week 7/8 we will know what we got in Baker: with the bye & time the offense will be close to optimized and defenses won’t be guessing as much on what new guy Canales is trying to do. If we are still Bakin’ on offense come then, Licht better start getting the bean counters going on finding chunky extension money. Even mid tier QB1s are getting $25-30M a year.

  11. Joe Says:

    You’re obviously better connected than us at OBP. I’m curious as what happened to Vaughn.

    Not difficult to figure out. Previous offensive staff clearly wasn’t a big fan (fill in the blank as to why). The personnel department on the other hand liked him. If not for Jason Licht, Sneak may not be here.

    New staff comes in and apparently Sneak didn’t do enough to impress Dave Canales et al enough to move up the depth chart. Sneak got p!ssed, stomped out of practice and found himself in the doghouse.

  12. KC Buc Says:

    But also….can we please bring back those “At Home with Baker Mayfield” ads? There’s so much potential with him on the pirate ship lol

  13. Cobraboy Says:

    Has Vaughn done *anything* beyond 2-3 big plays that warrant his elevation on the depth chart?

  14. MadMax Says:

    We’re gonna beat the iggles….probably be close, by 1 point!

  15. Hodad Says:

    I wouldn’t say we out smarted the NFL. Signing Baker was more like circumstance, meeting necessity. We didn’t have many other options. What’s making it work is fit, and timing, two things working in our favor. Timing is the key to life. Maybe it was Baker’s time to land with the right team, and scheme that fits his talent. Going to the Pants last year shows what happens when the timing is off, and there’s no fit.

  16. NE Fan Says:

    Mayfield is great pick up seeing the Bucs don’t have the cap space for an elite guy. What, were the Bucs going to pay through the nose for Carr or Garapolo? Sure they are better but not by much. The problem I see is he likes to scramble and if guys like Jackson, Fields, Mahomes, Tua, Allen & Hurts etc are getting injured it is probably inevitable he will not finish the season with the oline issues. Opposing D’s just need to shut down either Evan’s and or Godwin because they won’t win with just one consistent wr. The Eagles are you test!!!

  17. JimBobBuc Says:

    Looking at Baker’s history of throwing INT’s, all of us were counting INT’s in training camp to compare Baker and Trask. Outsiders and the press think of Baker and his INT’s too. Canales and Baker are working to be INT-conscious and with one exception this week, Baker’s reads and throws have been good. Looking at Canales history in Seattle, I think he deserves a lot of credit for Baker’s performance. I was not a big Baker fan in training camp, but in the last two games, his ability to avoid sacks and get the ball out under pressure has really impressed me. I hope the MNF team gives Canales some credit.

  18. Jw94buc Says:

    I’m starting to believe in Baker! This Monday night is where it all comes to fruition. The real test against a playoff/Super Bowl caliber team. He is either starting to feel more comfortable in this offense. Or we have more work ahead of us. Time we’ll tell. Let’s go Bucs keep putting the league on notice. Let them doubt us. I’m loving it.

  19. Winny Testaverde Says:

    So far so good…BUT

    Many of us remember a jubilant Sam Wyche ( RIP )…”5 dash 2”…I believe they finished 6-10 and he was fired…bringing on The Father Dungy Era.

  20. Capt2fish Says:

    I would say the nfl echo chamber outsmarted itself. You would hear all the talking heads come up with all sorts of excuses why David Carr underachieved with the raiders and how garrapolo was a great signing despite being this generations Chris Chandler (China doll). Poor Carr had to endure chucky getting fired….pay no attention to the revolving door of HCs and OCs Baker had in Cleveland. Tampa was the perfect landing spot with the weapons and a coordinator that maximizes his talents. Going to be interesting what happens during free agency. Baker took a substantial pay cut on the final year of his contract to get out of cleveland. And he lost the $12M in the accounting scandal. Hope he chooses wisely rather than follow the money.still think he ends up back in LA should Stafford decide to retire

  21. Richard Dickson Says:

    We had a LOT go our way these first two games. Kirk Cousins going turnover happy, the Bears dropping an almost sure-fire pick early, the neutral zone infraction that saved a drive, some lucky bounces on the fumble and the blocked kick…. I’m not saying I’m not happy at 2-0 but I won’t be truly excited unless we either win or at least keep it competitive against the Eagles.

  22. Abovedalaw Says:

    It’s a reach to say they “outsmarted the NFL” but it was a good move to bring him in for middling backup money, and so far it’s worked out better than expected. Most NFL teams would rather an unknown or someone with theoretical talent to a veteran with a spotty record, even though their unknowns and prospects have lower odds of success. And I’m sure at minimum the Bears and Steelers are second guessing whether they should have considered offering Baker $5 million.

  23. Buddha Says:

    Viking were in the playoffs and won their division last year. They still will be in the hunt this year. They have as good a passing game as any team and they were 8-0 at home. That was not a win over a terrible team.

  24. Larrd Says:

    The Bucs completely took away Justin Jefferson in the second half, then took away Justin Fields’ running in the Bears game. It has been Belichickean.

  25. JD Still Says:

    While wins the first two weeks is encouraging, even though they were against teams that have not yet won a game , it would probably be wise to hold off a bit longer on making Super Bowl reservations! We are now in week three , 15 games still to go, we are still in summer , we still have all of the fall and into the heart of winter to go this football season with all the problems , twists and turns that will bring ,weather, injuries, slumps, hot and cold streaks , and just pure dumb bad luck or good fortune, affecting every player on every team either positively or negatively, (and it only takes one players misfortune, i.e. Aaron Rogers ), to completely change a teams outlook , not to mention the the quality of the other competing teams. Fifteen weeks from now We will know for sure which teams and individuals have successfully negotiated those obstacles, not one week before.

  26. m milligan Says:

    Place will be rockin Mon night, need a couple turnovers. I think we will split with Saints at very least. Falcons look good. Bills tough game. Monday night would go a long way.
    I see us getting the W with a final game ending drive.
    Go Bucs

  27. westernbuc Says:

    Lmao Ricki

    “Mayfield has Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as his top receivers, and that’s going to help anybody. It’s not as though Mayfield has never had success in the league; he won a playoff game with the Browns, for goodness’ sake.”

    This is an unbelievable quote. Like Ricki noted, it’s not like we signed these guys in late-August. The analysts went all-in on the Bucs sucking this year knowing this. Now it’s supposed to be obvious?

    And the only team on that list that scares me is the Eagles. I think we can hang with everyone else. Can’t wait to get Graziano’s blessing

  28. PewterStiffArm Says:

    I love my team but there is always that thought process that gives me a lump at the pit of my stomach. The same one that thinks of the perfect opportunity to show the football world how good we are. But we play like last years San Francisco game where we would have lost to The Little Sisters of the Poor that day. It happens from time to time with this team no matter who is on the roster, or who is coaching. Philadelphia is a prime example of a game that we need, a game that we can win. Playoffs, Playoffs? One game at a time, Philly is beatable.

  29. Mike Johnson Says:

    15 more games to be played. Its to d..early for anything. Lets see where we are after 8 or 9 games.

  30. WyomingJoe Says:

    Graziano is just another media nerd. Who the hell cares what he and the other NFL suits think?! Graziani should also know that Baker had an outstanding rookie season breaking Peyton Manning’s Rookie TD record. He was also on the NFL Top 100 Players list in 2019 (51st place I believe) and followed that up in 2020 with an 11-5 record, a playoff win against the Steelers, and was ranked in the Top Ten in the NFL in a number of categories. He also had three WRs who had 1000 yard seasons when he was with Cleveland. THE GUY HAS DONE IT ALL BEFORE. His play shouldn’t surprise anyone. Baker will be fine and the Bucs are going to surprise a lot of people this year.

  31. Fred McNeil Says:

    Look, guys, maybe the two teams we played first were a bit flawed. The alternative was to lose to those two turds.
    Phillie does indeed serve as a better litmus test. Knowing the NFL Nostradamus wannabes in media land, they’ll probably claim the Eagles had too much time off if we beat them Monday Night.

  32. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Dan Graziano is the biggest idiot at ESPN….it’s insane how quickly the NFL (outside of the Bucs) gave up on a literal 1st overall pick at age 28….Baker Mayfield has a real chance to prove he can be the Bucs franchise quarterback if he continues to play well this season.

  33. Mike Says:

    As a Baker fan from Cleveland, though a Jets fan, I hope Bakes plays as well as he did in his playoff year, I know the Browns fans will realize they were wrong soon enough ! Go Bucs !

  34. Jacqueline Says:

    I am a Cleveland Browns fan and also a Baker fan. I hope he does well for the Bucks this year and I wish him good health all year. He deserved better than to be dumped by the Brown’s..Best wishes Baker.

  35. David Says:

    Good Article Joe. Baker’s fans are ready to make a super bowl qb out of him after defeating two winless teams with their defense.

  36. unbelievable Says:

    These are some challenging games ahead of us…

    Being 5 – 2 at that point would be great IMO.

  37. Gobucs2117 Says:

    The Bucs are 2-0. Of the next 5 games two are division games. If they only beat the Saints and the Falcons (which I think they can) and lose to the Eagles, Lions and Bills, they’ll be 4-3 but 2-0 in the division. Look how they got to the playoffs last year. They beat the teams that they had to in their division. That should be their goal.

  38. BucBuckeye Says:

    I don’t get where this playoff talk comes from? We beat two teams that have struggled in their first two games – and we looked pedestrian doing it.

    Canales has been great, but the Vikes and Bears were either one dimensional (Cousins/Vikes), or non-dimensional (Feilds/Bears). They were preparation for the Eagles – but aren’t as talented or as well coached, as the Eagles – or the next 5 opponents. I think we’re about to find out that it’s more than Baker Mayfield.

    …and Baker has been great so far – headsup play, dropping timing routes, creating with his feet – and maybe even being able to read opposing teams hand-signaling while processing his own new OC’s playcalling… but if the Eagles D is healthy, or even NEAR healthy, he’s going to have a LONG night.

    Our offensive line has severe issues that won’t be disguised against the Eagles and our defensive secondary is too weak to handle the vertical passing if our front 5 d-line doesn’t get pressure (the Eagle offensive line is a WALL of beef).

    Our punter is a secret weapon – but we won’t be able to capitalize on that aspect of the game if we sacrifice Baker and the Defense gets smoked by Jalen Hurts & Company.

    Tough stretch. My reality check is – I’ll be surprised if we don’t go 1-4 in this stretch (Atlanta is the only question mark for me). These next 5 teams are murderers row. I’m ok with that, because I think I have realistic expectations.

    That still leaves us 3-4 heading into game 8. That’s a LOT better than expected.

    But I’ll be happy to be proven wrong!

  39. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    If they get 2020 version of Mayfield it could work out pretty sweet. Evans and Godwin are ball magnets

  40. Saul Says:

    Mark my words the bucks will win the NFC South and make the playoffs and for them to move up it’s depends on how Mayfield playoffs

  41. garro Says:

    Admittedly it is still way early to etch anything in stone for any NFL team.

    Falcons Ridder looked like crap for much of the first half of the game against the Packers. So we should write them off?

    I am positive that we have a better team chemistry this year regardless of who is under center. That in itself gives me hope for more wins than the “experts” “rankings” predict this time of year.

    I would like to add that all these rankings are ridiculous this early in the season!

    Maybe at week four they will carry some weight with me.

    Go Bucs!