Most Honorable Buccaneers

October 4th, 2023

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We’re basically at the NFL’s quarter-pole and guess who may have a nose in front for some major postseason accolades?

Your Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Early Coach of the Year candidate, Ira explains.

Todd Bowles has risen from the coaching graveyard to post a 3-1 getaway that includes a pair of road victories. The 49ers and the Eagles are the only clubs with a better record through four weeks — and those NFC powers were expected to breeze into the playoffs.

Not so with the Bucs, whose over-under win-loss number was 6.5, according to Vegas pundits. Bowles has done things his way in 2023, including a key addition to the staff in playcaller Dave Canales.

If the season ended today, Bowles would surely be in consideration for Coach of the Year honors. That notion seemed preposterous a month ago when many pro football analysts ticketed the Bucs for the NFC South basement.

Bowles has preached physicality and his players have responded.

He emphasized a commitment to the running game and Tampa Bay’s balance has been extraordinary. He kept talking about winning the turnover battle and the Bucs are sitting at plus-7, second only to the Cowboys.

The Glazers have to be very impressed with how Bowles has integrated young players into the snap equation, some by necessity because of injuries and some because of sheer production. All of this without much from first-round pick Calijah Kancey, who may be ready to start against Detroit after the bye week.

At this early point, Houston head coach DeMeco Ryans is also turning in very impressive work. The Texans have won two in a row behind rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud, who has not thrown a pick in 151 pass attempts. Houston just beat Jacksonville and Pittsburgh by a combined margin of 67-23.

Considering the Falcons, Saints and Panthers are dead ahead, the Texans may be 5-2 when the Bucs get thieir first look at Stroud in a Nov. 5 road matchup.

Like the Bucs, Houston’s ground game isn’t particularly productive. Like the Bucs, the Texans don’t beat themselves. Wouldn’t it be something if Bowles and Ryans are duking it out for coaching honors?

Now we come to Baker Mayfield, a strong early candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.

Mayfield has won over teammates, coaches and ownership with his grit and poise. It’s starting to look like 2020 once again for Mayfield, who led the Browns to the playoffs that season when nobody thought Cleveland was a legitimate contender. Speaking of Mayfield, his offseason addition alone should elevate Jason Licht into the early conversation for Executive of the Year honors.

The Bucs could have stood pat and simply given Kyle Trask the job, knowing the 2024 draft is teeming with tantalizing QB prospects, but Licht was convinced that competition against Mayfield would raise the level of both quarterbacks.

Who can argue with the results?

Even when protection breaks down, Mayfield has demonstrated an uncanny ability to avoid sacks. He’s not afraid to sacrifice his body to make a play … in stark contrast from what Buc Nation saw last year with Tom Brady under center.

Elite Pair

Tristan Wirfs

Through four games, the Bucs may have a couple of All-Pros to promote at the end of the season.

Buc fans don’t need an analytical service to talk up Tristan Wirfs as a premier left tackle. All you need is a good set of eyes. Wirfs has made the shift from the right side appear seamless. Good luck finding a better pass protector in the league.

Antoine Winfield, Jr.

Antoine Winfield Jr. is thriving as a true safety, making big plays all over the field. In New Orleans, he set the tone all afternoon. No. 31 is having fun and his passion for the game is contagious.

Sitting at 3-1, Buc fans aren’t drooling over college quarterbacks Caleb Williams, Drake Maye or Michael Penix Jr. Instead, they’re thinking Mayfield may be the answer.

Granted, it’s a small sample size, but that large chip atop Mayfield’s shoulder pad is looking like a welcome addition to the equipment room.

34 Responses to “Most Honorable Buccaneers”

  1. ATLBuc Says:

    Defensive ROY candidates Kancey and 29.
    Offensive ROY candidate Palmer
    Kamarda, Special Teams ALL Pro and POY

  2. Rod Munch Says:

    Now we come to Baker Mayfield, a strong early candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.


    This is a real question … but why would Baker be a candidate for comeback player of the year?

    To me, comeback player of the year is more about guys who were injured. Also what is he coming back from?

    This isn’t anything against Ira, it’s just how I perceive the award I guess. For example, last year Geno Smith won it. How can you win a ‘comeback’ award when you never went anywhere, when you’ve never done anything your entire career. It’s more of a veteran player breakout award at this point, but I think the original intent was about guys who comeback from injuries.

  3. J Says:

    Wasn’t Geno comeback player of the year? If he was then Mayfield surely falls into that category with zero debate.

  4. Crickett Baker Says:

    I just love all the positivity! I sure hope it doesn’t end if we happen to lose another game. We need unconditional LOVE for our team.

  5. Arn platz Says:

    I noticed very little is being said about the Bucs on any sports platform except here. That’s good for now but if the team continues winning that will change.

  6. ChiBuc Says:

    Rod, Baker healed his head

  7. WyomingJoe Says:

    Munch: Sounds like you’ve never done anything your entire career but whine. Check out Baker in 2018 when he broke Peyton Manning’s record for most TDs by a rookie; making the Top 100 NFL players in 2019; 11-5 and playoffs in 2020. Then injured in game 2 in 2021. Then the Browns made the biggest mistake of their lives with signing Deshaun Watson. Btw, they have a losing record since Mayfield was traded. Carolina? They’re in the toilet too. So, stop embarrassing yourself because of your Baker Hating…

  8. SlyPirate Says:

    Last year I BLASTED Bowles. He was terrible. One of the most undervalued elements of a successful team is an identity – Knowing “how YOU win.” Bowles had a vision for his identity: Smart, concise, complimentary football, with a badass defense, and low turnover offense (Parcell’s football). Arian’s identity was the opposite Bowles’ identity. Bowles inherited Arians team too late to make changes and conflict manifested in an ugly team.

    This year Bowles’ had a little time to start to build his team and his identity. It’s really good football. The type of football that’s extremely hard to beat.

    Licht obviously shares the vision and I’m happy he didn’t listen to me say “Fire his ass for six-seven weeks.” I look forward to watching Bowles’ team develop over the next few years. I think it’s the start of a NFCS dynasty.

  9. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade but we have some tough matchups ahead of us. Detroit, Buffalo, SF……ahd some others won’t be pushovers.

    We need to take care of business……I do think the Detroit game is winnable.

  10. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Proud of Bowels and our Team!

    Solid post slypirate.

    Really enjoy the comments of all (most) of you fellow Bucs fans here! You guys are awesome and your insightful, intelligent, hilarious posts help make this site so great!

    Thank you Joes – and let’s kick some azz!

  11. BillyBucco Says:

    Baker WAS injured which is why Cleveland benched him and signed a “FLASHER” for a lucrative contract all guaranteed.
    I watched all of Detroits games and it took Seattle scoria TD after winning the toss in OT to give them their only loss.
    Both GB and Atlanta shot themselves in the foot early and both games were almost over by the end of the 1st quarter.
    If Tampa can play smart, their defense is considerably better than Atlanta and GB so far.
    Detroit is really good against the run and every QB has been under pressure.
    Detroit runs a TON of shallow crossing routes to open up deeper zones.
    The key will be generating pressure on Goff. Against GB he threw a bad pick on the 3rd play and GB only managed a FG while starting at the 20.
    Penalties were terrible.

  12. Ultra ClodHopper Says:

    Bowles is coaching better than I ever imagined he could. I also gave him no benefit of the doubt at being able to spot offensive coaching talent but Canalas is proving that wrong so far. Time will tell.

  13. A Bucs Fan Says:

    I owe Baker an apology myself. He’s done way more than I ever thought he would and I was too harsh as a fan early on. I’m still unsure about his ability as a long term solution because he takes a lot of hits and there was the whole Odell vs Mayfield debacle that divided the locker room in Cleveland that no one can agree on.

    In any case I am happy the Bucs are winning and I am buying the Bowles/Canales vision of this team.

  14. Noles Says:

    Rod –

    Baker hasn’t been injured but was #1 pick and first to play for this many trams in that short a time frame. So otger teams gave up on him and discounted him. If he keeps this up he is most deserving of being included in that discussions. That is the epitomy of comeback player stuff, its called being resilient which defines the award

  15. Darin Says:

    Great not yet quarter season awards. Only one bowlsey will ever score

  16. Colonel Angus Says:

    “While the criteria for the award is imprecise,[1] it is typically given to a player who shows perseverance in overcoming adversity from not being able to play the previous season, such as an injury, or for playing well in comparison to the previous year’s poor performance.[2] If a player can come back from such adversity or play at a high level over the previous year, they will usually be favored to win the award.”

    I reckon Baker meets these requirements.

  17. Rod Munch Says:

    WyomingJoe – You’re offended yet again, because I said an award that was designed for guys coming back from injury should go to guys coming back from injury? My god are you a nutjob.

  18. Rod Munch Says:

    Colonel Angus – “In 1962, United Press International (UPI) chose a comeback player for the first time. The winner, Frank Gifford, had made a comeback from a devastating injury from a hit by Chuck Bednarik. The following year, the Associated Press (AP) established a similar award.”

    That’s what I’m talking about, the intention of the award is meant for guys coming back from injuries. I understand that’s now how he’s used anymore, and I brought up that Geno won it last year – so yes, by those standards, Mayfield, if he can keep it up for 17 games, will be a candidate for the award. But again, my issue wasn’t with Mayfield or Geno, it’s with the award, as this was not the original intention of the award, and it seems like only recently the focus has changed. However, I could be wrong on that last point as I didn’t bother to look it up as I don’t care enough to do the research.

  19. Rod Munch Says:

    Tampabaybucfan – don’t bring up that people might not want to spike the ball at their own 25 yard line, if you do, you’re a ‘hater’ and it means you’re secretly rooting for failure. You see the teams wins and loses are controlled by your feelings. So you need to feel like you won the Super Bowl after beating the Bears, and because you didn’t, they lost the following week. So thanks for that. Hater.

  20. #99 the big fella Says:

    Rod , I believe why people disagree with you so much is because you always find a negative in all your posts.. not sure if you see the glass half empty or half full. I do respect your knowledge of the game though.

  21. orlbucfan Says:

    ‘Nuclear bomb’ Camarda is definitely in contention for Punter of the Year honors. The entire Bucs ST will be the best the team has ever had. When you guys gonna spotlight Special Team, joes?

  22. Don’t tell me it’s raining Says:

    If Trask were QB1 and we were in the exact same scenario, the people still hating on Bake would be saying how great Trask was and how they told us he was the real deal. They would be bragging about him throwing 3 TD’s and how he beat the A’ints in their house. And how he got us to 3-1 and first place in the division. They would be saying how we should sign him to a record contract before he became a free agent and went to a better team. Of course they would also be telling us how Bake could never have achieved the same success as Trask.
    Sad, just sad.

  23. Pelsbuc61 Says:

    I’m just glad we’re not talking about next year’s draft already. If Bucs can somehow create a running game and the team gets healthy (get Kancey, Dean and Sirvoccia back) things can remain positive.

  24. Elite Vita Says:

    I hear that the bears are interested in Canales for HC next year. How can the Bucs tempt him to stay?

  25. Rod Munch Says:

    #99 the big fella – well in this particular case, it’s not a negative post. I was talking about comeback player of the year, something that I always thought was about guys coming back from injury. I’m not sure why that is remotely offensive or controversial. My question was about what other people think, is that the same perception they have. Still no one has even given an opinion on what I actually was talking about.

    But the reason people get so angry is that they seem to have no ability to understand when people are just joshing with them and giving them a hard time. To which I turn to my mentor #99, not you, but THE man, who taught us something very special. If you clip an offensive lineman on an INT return, after he had been clipping you all day, and that guy gets hurt, so what. Also if some fat coach gets in your face – you don’t say you’re sorry and back down, you double down, and tell him if he does it again, you’ll clip him. That’s how you deal with it, and in this forum, your clip is words … because we all know how much words (from random people on the internet) hurt.

  26. BillyBucco Says:

    I would say NO is better than they played against us.
    You could tell Derek Carr was still dealing with the injury and he had several passes “One Hop” to open receivers. Missing a wide open Chris Olave didn’t help either as it was grossly under thrown. I never thought the ball would come down.
    I’m not taking anything away from the Bucs, but I believe NO bounces back against Houston and they pick off Stroud.
    Atlanta is a crap shoot because their defense is way better. Ridder is the problem and he turns the ball over too much. Not sure their offensive line is any good. Everyone should beat Carolina. So glad we aren’t gonna mortgage the farm for someone like Young. Lol.
    Really hope Kancey is back vs Detroit. They haven’t been truly tested with a stout pass rush yet. Jones was out when they played KC.
    Watching Seattle play Detroit, they won by utilizing TEs on 9 catches for over 130 yds. We won’t get that production from Otton alone.
    I hope Canales has a good game plan, because it will take passing the ball.
    Nobody has run successfully on Detroit.

  27. adam from ny Says:

    if we somehow win the game vs detroit…

    the neww narraive around the nfl talking heads is:

    “okay, there’s something going on in tampa”

  28. Hodad Says:

    The 49ers,, Bills, aren’t going to go undefeated the rest of the season. Someone is going to pull an upset, it could be us.

  29. garro Says:

    Good stuff as always Ira!

    Umm may have to put the brakes on the whole Bowles for coach of the year thing though. AWJ is reminding me of Troy Polamalu. He is everywhere. He and Wirfs keep it up and don’t make All Pro, I for one am done with the whole thing. Count Vea in on that as well.

    I don’t keep track of the entire NFL like I used to but if AWJ is not defensive player of the week then who?

    Go Bucs!

  30. BucU Says:

    Most of us know it’s early in the year and things can and do change during the course of a long season but I have nothing but admiration at what they’ve been able to do so far. If we can just somehow get our run game to be average then we can sustain this run.
    I want to see Kancey back for the Detroit game. Surely he’ll be ready to go by then no?

  31. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    Funny how no one ever talks about JJ McCarthy when they mention top QB’s coming out of the draft. McCarthy is going to be a very good NFL QB.

  32. Toad Bowels Says:

    Thank you very much

  33. RGA Says:

    I understand exactly what Rod is talking about, “Comeback player of the year”? What is he coming back from? Maybe he’s in the category of most improved player of the year, certainly not comeback.

  34. Danny Husak Says:

    You guys weren’t following Baker day in and day out when he was in Cleveland. Stefanski hated and got rid of everyone who even THOUGHT about asking a question. It even came out that he was going to win HIS way or not at all. In order to dump Baker, he pretty much had to destroy him. Come back Player of The Year…… OH YEA!!!!!!!!!! Baker was verbally beaten, physically ridiculed, steam rolled and humiliated out of Cleveland. It was just a matter of a solid location, decent support, and healing his shoulder. The Bucs have a REAL QB who is beginning to let his experience show. The Philly game came a little too soon. Not to worry !!! NEVER count The Bucs out from here on !!!!!!!!
    Danny Baker Buc Esq.