Building An Offense For Baker Mayfield

December 19th, 2023

Unlocking Baker Mayfield.

Really interesting piece on how Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield may have finally found a coach for him.

No, not necessarily Todd Bowles, but Dave Canales.

Canales, the first-year Bucs offensive coordinator, is getting props from Steven Ruiz of The Ringer. It’s not so much for having a high-powered offense (aside from Sunday, Canales’ offense has mostly been like trying to drive a truck with a clogged fuel filter). But Ruiz is impressed that Canales built an offense for Mayfield that does not include many if any play-action passes because Mayfield’s history is he is awful throwing play-action passes.

In the 34-20 win over Green Bay, Mayfield was decisive, he was accurate, and he rarely ran himself into pressure. When he performs like that, this Bucs offense, which still has most of the talent from the Super Bowl–winning team of a few years ago, is awfully hard to defend. Offensive coordinator Dave Canales has put together a well-designed scheme that makes his quarterback’s job a lot easier.

What’s surprising is that Canales has been able to pull out some of these performances from Mayfield without relying on the quarterback’s crutch: play-action passing. In Cleveland, Mayfield’s success was almost directly tied to the offense’s ability to run play-action passes. If the Browns fell behind early or defenses were just able to defend those concepts, Mayfield didn’t have a plan B. He just wasn’t a quarterback you could trust to win in obvious passing situations. We’ve seen the inverse in Tampa Bay this season. Mayfield is playing his best ball when asked to just drop back and pass. The ball is getting out quickly, which suggests not only that he is seeing the field well, but also that Canales’s play designs are routinely providing him with immediate answers.

Really good stuff in this piece about Mayfield and Canales. Yes, we’ve heard Canales say often he wants to run the ball. Given Canales’ upbeat nature, was that just a politically correct way of saying the less chances Mayfield has to make a mistake the better for the offense?

As for that bombshell Sunday, has Mayfield built up street cred with Canales. So the Bucs’ offensive coordinator has more trust in Mayfield and let him air it out against the Packers?

(Hat tip: @Nicholas Carlson.)

43 Responses to “Building An Offense For Baker Mayfield”

  1. Beeej Says:

    But….I thought he was a one-read QB?

    (“Mayfield’s history is he is awful throwing play-action passes.”)
    That’s interesting, had no idea

  2. Lt. Dan Says:

    So maybe the Bucs don’t draft a QB this spring? looks like with Canales the starting QB for the foreseeable future is in the building already.

  3. ModHairKen Says:

    Three weeks ago, they were all fired. Everyone sucked. Now, they barely win two games against bad teams and one against an okay team, and all is forgotten.

    What happens if they run off 2 more losses? Or 2 more wins?

    No, the weak link has not been Mayfield. It has been Hainsey. Devin White. Dean. Davis. Neal. Tryon. Shaq. Backup WRs. TE. And mostly coaching, including the OC.

    Are they going to be just good enough to save everyone’s hide after a playoff spot and early exit?

    Fast forward 365 days. Will they be any better then?

    All Bowles has proven is that he has a .500 capability.

    This feels like a poor man’s Dungy team.

  4. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    If we keep Mayfield, we need to get him a top-tier TE…..OG/C & another RB…

    If we don’t keep him, all those picks will go toward a QB…..

    We have focused on our Defense using our top pick for 5 out of the last 7 picks.

    Time for the Offense.

  5. Beeej Says:

    Looking at our stats, we STILL need to focus on defense. Teams that get to the QB with 4 rushers win Super Bowls

  6. Davenport Says:


    I hate Bowles with the fire of a thousand suns. He’s a mediocre HC at best and his record proves it.

    That said, watching the Glazers on Sunday convinced me that he’ll be back next year.

    I’m starting to appreciate what Canales is doing so I guess thats the silver lining in this mess.

  7. Bucman Says:

    No matter how this season ends, I would not want to see a rookie QB and a new coach together on this team for the first time next year. There will (most likely) be 7-8 HC openings this off season. Is there someone better than Bowles that would take this job? I think not.

  8. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Good article, you can have the right guy in the wrong system. I remember BA had to make changes to his offense when Brady first came. It was a little rocky until they figured stuff out. Sounds like Canales is figuring out his personnel (not just Baker) and playing to their strengths.

  9. Senor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    TBBF says,
    “If we keep Mayfield, we need to get him a top-tier TE…..OG/C & another RB…”

    I get why you pick those positions, they could be better. But what this team does not have, that a championship team usually has, is a monster pass rusher. That would likely be my 1st Round pick, then, yes, Offense

  10. Razor Ramone Says:

    I don’t trust Bowles to develop a rookie QB.

  11. Curse of Gruden Says:

    Good point Bucman. If Bowles is going to be let go, the Glazers better have someone better walking through the door, and currently, that looks highly unlikely.

  12. Conner50 Says:

    The offense has had 2 really good performances out of all 14 games so far and everyone has their heads in the clouds already. Pump the breaks on canales and mayfield being a complete dou cause until they show consistency that’s inaccurate. Also baker still don’t deserve a fat contract either, he’s got 3 games left he ain’t proved enough. Win out then yall can hype him up

  13. Tony Marks Says:

    “What’s surprising is that Canales has been able to pull out some of these performances from Mayfield without relying on the quarterback’s crutch: play-action passing. In Cleveland”


    Joe might love this article but every Baker mayfield knows its trash from the above blurb

    Baker’s game evolved quite a bit before getting here. Every thing thats surprising to the writer is something Bakeer was doing with the Rams

  14. Alanbucsfan Says:

    2019 – Arians’ 1st year – Bucs went 7-9.
    2020- won SB – upgraded roster – Brady, Gronk, A Brown, Fournette, Winfield Jr
    That’s the plan for 2024-2025 – getting out of cap hell and upgrading the roster-
    No need to blow it up

  15. Alanbucsfan Says:

    ^ How could I forget Wirfs

  16. Lord Cornelius Says:

    “because Mayfield’s history is he is awful throwing play-action passes.”

    I thought this story was implying the opposite? That he only had success with the Browns using play action but was bad in obvious passing situations or when playing from behind? That makes more sense to me since that Browns team was a run-first team that ran the ball well.

  17. Mark hardt Says:

    1. You still draft a QB but you go for an overlooked Purdy/Brady type late rounder. QBs get injured. 2. Baker has at least 3 dominating performances and 4 late scores that the defense only held up 2x. 3. Baker learns from his mistakes and does better the 2nd or 3rd time he sees a defense. Note that 2 years ago he played at Lambeau hurt and last year in an offense he had a few weeks to learn. This year it was game 15 in the same offense, and the third time he had seen the Packers Defense. He got a perfect score the third time. 4. My guess is that if he sees the Lions, niners, or Eagles again in the playoffs he will play much better. I worry about the Cowboys. If he sees the Bills or any AFC North team in the SB he will play well. I worry about the Fins and Chiefs.

  18. LVMYBUCS Says:

    Win two games against two bad teams and all is forgiven, wait until we get bounced in the first round then what.

  19. ModHairKen Says:

    They got rid of Gruden to hire Morris. Ten year mistake. I’m not in favor of firing guys for the flavor of the month. I’ve been screaming for Bowles to be fired.

    Now I’m having second thoughts. My thoughts mean nothing. It’s up to the Glazers.

  20. Irishmist Says:

    I noticed we ran more shotgun. This helps a vertically challenged QB by giving him a better opportunity to scan the field before the rush gets too close. And even our runs out of the shotgun seemed more effective.

  21. P marcello Says:

    Just think. If Baker wins every game remaining in front of him He and the Bucs will have won the uperbowl. I am going to love watching Baker STEAL THE WHOLE DAMN SHOW1

  22. Rick Says:

    the best player on that offense is White. When he’s getting touches, most importantly in the passing game, we are tough to defend.

  23. D-Rome Says:

    I agree with you Tampabaybucfan. The only difference is that I’d draft a Guard or Center in the first round, TE in the second round, and RB in the third round to be a rotational back with Rachaad White. It would be great if the Bucs can make another Christian Izien type hit on the defensive side as well.

  24. Abovedalaw Says:

    I don’t think it’s accurate that Mayfield has been bad out of play action. He was good in 2020 with a lot of play action and a lot of designed rollouts/bootlegs, as well as some interesting formations and well-designed route concepts. He was bad in 2021 (injured) in the same offense.

    The claim might be that historically he has not been able to make up deficits because when you fall behind, the run is unlikely, PA is unhelpful, and it’s hard to run a complex offense in no huddle or hurry up. And because of the structured offense, he couldn’t just drop back and fling the ball around the field. That’s plausible. But the answer is not to abandon the scheme that worked, but to mix it up so that he has the best chance of success in all scenarios.

  25. David Singha Says:

    Remember all the hype when they were 3-1? Optimism is good, but Let’s not get ahead of ourselves thinking the coaches have figured it out. Hopefully Canales has adjusted on offense, but remember it’s the same coaches on defense that blew a playoff game against the Rams and a few games earlier this season.

  26. Buccos Says:

    When the authorr says that play action was his crutch that means that was what he leaned on the most. It means that he could only throw well out of play action instead of obvious passing situations

  27. Bucs13 Says:

    This is why the comparison to a 45 year old Brady to Mayfield is dumb. If Mayfield was in the BA high risk offense, his performance wouldn’t be as good. That roster last year was old and filled with JAGs. The OL was awful!
    I don’t care about how Mayfield is mobile. He would be dead behind that OL

  28. TBSwarm Says:

    I’m willing to give Canales another year or two. Each week I seem him consistently getting better and I like his attitude. Give him some more time with a young OL and hopefully a better RB (or at least one that is better on 1st downs) and lets see where this can go

  29. Mark hardt Says:

    A lot of you missed the sarcasm in the initial line about play action and the retraction farther down the article. The point is with the Browns he was a one trick play action pony who was dependent on the strong running game. Initially, Canales assumed that and was determined to make the run work. Well it did not. Along the way in pass every down 2 minute drills Canales was pleasantly surprised that Baker could be effective when the defense knew he was going to pass. Perhaps because of superior Rams coaching and the shot gun. As for being vertically challenged that is so passe. Compared to the Cardinals, Pantherfs and QB,s coming out of college he is a giant. The height thing is not an issue any more with shotgun, spread offenses, and Read run pass options.

  30. Gipper Says:

    Few can throw the seam routes as well as Baker. Last week TD to Evans was classic Baker. A rope between CB and safety right on the money. It has never mattered whether Baker rolls out or throws from the pocket it is just easier throwing seam routes from the pocket. Interesting hearing again from all the experts what Baker can or cannot do. For all experts suggest you watch Baker internet highlights from his Oklahoma days. He throws everything well with or without touch–deep ball, play action, crossing, seam and sideline out. Won’t take long to confirm what I have been saying on these pages. I didn’t just get Baker religion after 3 victories in a row.

  31. Lakeland Steve Says:

    Jacksonville has a better defense than Green Bay. They are going to look at the tape and try to stop what the Bucs did best Sunday which was hit those seam routes. They will probably sit back in a shell and dare us to run the ball with a light box. So, we will have to be able to run effectively and make them bring in an extra defender or two into the box to stop the run. However the Bucs accomplish this doesn’t matter just as long as they can make the Jags play honest defense. If the Bucs go out and move the ball against the Jags similar to what they did in Green Bay look out NFC.

  32. Citrus County Says:

    Last summer during training camp I stated the Canales/Mayfield marriage could result in Drew Brees two point O.

  33. orlbucfan Says:

    Still mad at myself for missing the second half last week. One thing I’ve noticed, BM picks up his game in the second half. That’s cerebral. He’s smart and he learns and figures out the opposing D. Now, if he can just keep from getting a broken neck from a sack in the first half. Our OLine is rebuilding and getting more cohesive. We do need a couple more OLinemen. A reliable center would help. I’m still voting for a fullback and a little more D help. Where are we at regarding the salary cap noose? I am so looking forward to these final games. I hope Canales has got his brain cells finally pointing in the right direction. 10-7, Bucs. That would be a nice Xmas gift. 🙂

  34. Mr. Editor Says:

    Mayfield is not doing much play action because it seems that he is lining up in the shotgun formation a lot of the time, even when they are well ahead. The Bucs were running a lot of naked bootlegs at the beginning of the season. At the time, I thought that Mayfield was eventually going to get killed by the pass rushers until they stopped running them as often.

  35. Brandon Says:

    D-Rome Says:
    December 19th, 2023 at 9:34 am
    I agree with you Tampabaybucfan. The only difference is that I’d draft a Guard or Center in the first round, TE in the second round, and RB in the third round to be a rotational back with Rachaad White. It would be great if the Bucs can make another Christian Izien type hit on the defensive side as well.


    Your first step as GM is to draft a guard or center in round one? Fired on the first day… like awful strategy. WTF drafts IOL in round one and is successful at their job? ZERO! Licht has proven that you absolutely don’t need to draft guards early to have a good IOL. Carl Nicks was a collegiate RT and was drafted in round 5… then there’s the success stories we’ve had with Marpet, Cappa, and Mauch… hell, Stinnie was undrafted and he’s probably our best IOL . Stay at your day job and let Licht do his magic… which means NEVER drafted a freaking IOL on day one. Next thing you know youre gonna say draft a RB top 10. blech

  36. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Sort of doubt you see Licht draft a high round QB.My opinion, they are happy with Baker and Kyle in the QB room. Plus, that would say “wasted pick” on R2 Trask. Best guess is sign Mayfield to a contract with a year 3 out, draft a stud edge R1, hit a DB R2, IOL R3. Look for a diamond in the rough WR R3. Sign Evans and Winfield, let White walk. And…Bowles will be back after they win the division and squeak out a playoff win against the Iggles.

  37. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Anybody else notice the Glazers handshaking the team after the GB win? Sorry, team Todd is trash, he’s coming back next year

  38. Bradley Brown Says:

    Does Tom Brady take us to the top of the mountain without that defense? He did in year one. In year two, I am still baffled by that collapse against the Rams. Draft picks need to address that. BakerField (did I just coin a nickname?) is the right guy for us.
    He’s proven he can pitch a hell of a game when the team is on.
    TB’s mere presence in the locker room raised the tide for everyone, but to extract that much energy from a group not used to it is why season 3 happened.
    I’m concerned that the rift between Devin White and the team is what is hurting the Buccaneers now. It is causing some division, which could lead to poor play by others. Today, that is the most important issue to address.

  39. SlyPirate Says:

    LVMYBUCS Says:
    Win two games against two bad teams and all is forgiven (?) …


    Thank you. Joe Bucs fans have a memory that lasts one game. I’m willing to give Canales and Mayfield a pass but not until they beat a legit team.

  40. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    SlyPirate a win at Lambeau in December against a playoff contending Packers team? That’s a legit Win. This team has a lot of dawg in them.

  41. Buc king Says:

    If im a young qb with a cannon..I take over the bucs…
    I get all the tape on Brady and study every fn thing he does..the play calls the audible hkw he used his weapons..his timing..foot work..
    I wouldnt leave anything to the imagination.
    Then I do something even crazier I got to jason and Bruce pr anyone who can get me in the presence of Tom and I bring gift ..praise.. thanks
    . And all my notes abd I ask him to film study woth me for few hours explain his thoughts..his break down on the players..
    I would be able to think like him..
    I ask for his personal number and permission to call him before game day.
    I get on tv and thank him for his efforts to help me and give him more credit then he would want.

    People don’t humble their self enough..
    I honestly be doing the Kobe to Jordan thing…
    Mirror effect..
    Should baker have a better arm then a old Brady..
    Faster foot work?

  42. WyomingJoe Says:

    I love it when they call Baker vertically challenged at 6-1” but Mahomes can see the field perfectly and he’s only 6-2”. Such BS!

    I agree with many that 3 wins in a row doesn’t mean a SB is in the cards, but I’ve always said that Baker can really throw. I’ve seen him do it a LOT of times with Cleveland.

    Keep winning Baker.

  43. Oneilbuc Says:

    I see most of y’all on this site are from Oklahoma or Cleveland Browns fans. 😂 Baker Mayfield is a average quarterback and sometimes they have good games like this. He played good against a team the Giants beat with a undrafted free agent quarterback and y’all acting like Baker beat a good team! Lol 🤣🤣 he’s 28 years old and will be 29 next year. Again you ain’t winning a superbowl with no Baker Mayfield. Ryan Fitzpatrick had good games back in 2018 and y’all were saying the same thing snig him to a contract . How did that work out? Lol 🤣🤣 you guys are hopeless and with a losing mentality!! Next year y’all will be crying about Bowles and Baker Mayfield !! I hope they do bring him back and when they do all y’all need to shut up about Todd Bowles and Faker Mayfield. I can’t wait until next year bring the mediocrey quarterback back and watch what happens if will be another losing season and another 10 year rebuild!!