“Baker Is Our Identity”

December 28th, 2023

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Blue-collar town, blue-collar team.

While they still boast a few stars, the 2023 Buccaneers have won the region over with a one-for-all attitude that helped them persevere through a horrendous midseason slide that would have doomed this franchise in years gone by. Tampa Bay took on adversity head on and never whined about injuries, official’s calls or bad breaks.

“Just some hard-nosed mugs,” Tristan Wirfs says, summing up the impressive work ethic at One Buc Place. “Just guys who want to go out and play football, ball out and play for each other. Nose to the grindstone. Just keep fighting.”

Even when they were 4-7, the Bucs stuck together The Chiefs are 9-6 and throwing tantrums every week. One team’s peaking, the other is pouting.

Jason Licht often talks about how he is drawn toward players who love football. Cody Mauch is a prime example. So is the guy under center.

True believer Tristan Wirfs has plenty of company, Ira Kaufman explains.

“I look at No. 6 over there,” Wirfs says. “He’s a little guy, but he’s fiery.”

The man who snaps the ball to Mayfield is justifiably proud of the unwavering faith players showed during those dark days in October and November that threatened to generate massive changes in the organization.

“It was about trusting the process,” says Robert Hainsey. “We knew there were going to be bumps in the road early in the season — new guys, new quarterback, new coordinator, lots of moving parts. Obviously, you saw the ups and downs but the message was always the same: keep trusting what we’re doing because it’s going to come along. It’s not that tough during a slump because you don’t have a choice. You have to trust in the scheme and trust in each other. You’ve seen what’s happened. This team is a group of fighters, which I love. We play hard, we play for each other and we don’t give up.”

Rachaad White, averaging 113 yards from scrimmage during the past five weeks, can’t wait for Sunday’s showdown against the Saints.

“We’ve got a certain swag, a certain confidence.about us right now,” he says. “We’re in a groove. This game coming up is the biggest. It’s just huge.”

There’s no Tom Brady on this club to suck up all the media oxygen. Instead, the attention is spread out among players like Mayfield, Mike Evans, Rachaad White, Antoine Winfield Jr. and Lavonte David.

Grinders rule.

Now a worker bee like Chris Godwin is punching the clock from the slot once again, excelling at the dirty work required at the position. The Jaguars showed no inclination to work hard last week, so the Bucs punched them in the mouth and stole their Christmas goodies.

Everything changed in Atlanta on Dec. 10, when the Bucs rallied against a division rival. That dramatic win validated the process Todd Bowles had been preaching since training camp.

“We understood where we were in the season,” Godwin says of the 29-25 victory against the Falcons. “Had we lost, the narrative would have been very different. Now, we’re trending upwards. Surely the Saints will bring their best … we have to bring ours.”

Bucs GM Jason Licht weighs in.

Six losses in seven weeks will test the resolve of any NFL team. The Bucs could have folded. They could have played the victim, using youth as an excuse to fail. Some teams would have done exactly that.
Not this team.

“It’s a testament,” Godwin says of the long, winding road toward a successful season. “We have a gritty team. We knew we had to lean on each other. You really have to be patient, trust the process and the guys around you.”

These aren’t the 2020 Bucs. Far from it. No Brady, no Ndamukong Suh, no Jason Pierre-Paul, no Rob Gronkowski. Instead, this team is forging its own legacy in its own way.

“This group is a little bit different,” Licht says. “There were lots of superstars on that Super Bowl team. This team is younger and naive enough to think, ‘Why are we supposed to be not very good?’ It all starts with the quarterback. Baker is our identity, the underdog who doesn’t stop fighting.”

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27 Responses to ““Baker Is Our Identity””

  1. Dave Pear Says:

    Excellent, Ira. This will get the Trask Occult triggered, though. Who will be first to whine how they want to see what we have in Trask? LOL.

  2. Crickett Baker Says:

    Nice article. Go Bucs and beat the voodoo team!

  3. PSL Bob Says:

    Love it! We’ve still got some stars on this roster, but no prima donnas. The biggest stars of all are the most unselfish. Just really good guys playing for each other. How can you not root for this team?

  4. Paratrooper Buc Says:

    We have a young team with some great veterans and a qb with moxie that all have a chip on their shoulder. Baker is a good leader that players love and he loves his team. That’s what struck me the last few games. He is running up to get guys off the ground, cheering the defense, greeting players coming off the field, and dancing in the end zone. Add in he will tuck the ball and take hits (not recommended) and that wins the hearts of your team. Being an underdog was what motivated Brady and he embraced it and so does Mayfield and the Bucs. Evans had a chip for no contract, Wirfs being at LT with naysayers, and more wanted to just win. Canales said the team needed to learn the offense and he owned that he was doing massive OJT as well in his first year. There is a lot to improve but win Sunday and Bucs control their destiny. They have grinded out a lot with grit.

  5. T. McGee Says:

    Blue collar town? I don’t see any factories, mines or plants around here.

  6. RBUC Says:

    Brady’s motivation was proving he was the main ingredient to the Patriots success all those years by going to a franchise that had some offensive talent he was looking for,but historically had the losingest record in the NFL( Brady never saw himself as a underdog) HIS EGO WAS WAYYYY TO BE FOR THAT plus Brady made it clear to upper management of the Buccaneers he wanted say so to get players on the roster HE WANTED TO PLAY WITH

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Baker Mayfield has sparked a fire with most all players…even defense to some degree.
    I expect us to play well Sunday and when we play well, we win.

  8. adam from ny Says:

    clearly a team that’s starting to feel dangerous as a whole…taking on the identity of their qb and his moxie…at precisely the right time…

    another team also getting dangerous is the rams…

    2 teams that know how to win deep into the playoffs…

    so some of these high profile, so called powerhouses of the 2023 nfl season better watch there azzes, and not get caught sleeping when it’s time for playoff football against these scrappy bucs and surging rams

  9. JK Says:

    I’m an imported fan from Ohio because of Bake.
    Take it from someone who was all in on the circus that is the Cleveland Browns up until I just couldn’t take it any more……been following this Bucs squad and they are fun to watch, getting better each week,………..a team a fanbase can be proud of

  10. adam from ny Says:

    it’ll be really wild if we steamroll the saints like we did jacksonville last sunday…

    it could happen…

    also i think we win vs carolina, but i wish we had a better opponent for the final game – where there is no pregame intentions and thoughts to take the foot off the gas and rest up some…

    you really need the same ethos going into this weekend’s game, next weekend’s game, and the wildcard playoff game…gotta keep that same energy flowing right into the playoffs

  11. adam from ny Says:

    as of 3 pm thursday afternoon — has cam jordan started flapping about sunday’s game vs the bucs ???

    or is he staying quiet

  12. Beeej Says:

    If we beat the Taints: “Pffft, yet another team with a losing record”

  13. Big Red Says:

    To say I was annoyed when the Bucs drafted a QB (Kyle Trask) at the end of the 2nd round when we still had Brady and Gabbert signed would be an understatement. We needed depth at so many other positions and we blew it on a 4th string QB.

    To say I’ve been unimpressed with the limited film we’ve seen on Kyle Trask in the NFL would be accurate.

    To say I was satisfied when Baker Mayfield was signed and named the starter over Kyle Trask would also be accurate.

    I still want to see what Kyle Trask has and would rather start Kyle next year (or have him compete vs a rookie or another vet on a team friendly deal) than resign Baker to a long term deal.

    the NFL is a business, and there’s no room for the Bucs to sign Baker Mayfield as a franchise QB. It’d be a huge mistake imo and we would be overpaying for NFL mediocrity.

    52.94 was Tom Brady’s lowest completion percentage in 2022. He was never sacked more than 3 times in a game.

    51.16 was Brady’s lowest completion percentage in 2021. Never sacked more than 4 times in a game.

    54.17 was Brady’s lowest completion percentage in 2020. Never sacked more than 3 times in a game.

    These statistics include playoffs. Tom Brady was 43 years old or older in all 3 seasons.

    Baker has had 2 good games vs beat up, and injury riddled (subpar) teams in the Jaguars and Packers. The calls for contract extention and franchise QB are comical, considering 2 weeks prior against equally shitty teams in the Falcons and Panthers, Baker finished with 48.3% completion % in both games.

    I hope Baker keeps winning and we win a chip. He’s the Bucs QB. I’d root for JaMarcus Russell if he was the Bucs QB, but anybody who truly believes this guy should be paid like a franchise QB doesn’t understand the NFL.

    There are a bunch of quarterbacks that would be putting up similar numbers as Baker in this offense with the talent that we have. Is Kyle Trask one of them? No clue. But I’d like to find out before we overpay for an average to above average NFL QB.

    We need to resign Tristan Wirfs, Mike Evans, Antoine Winfield, Levonte David, and depending on the price tag, Devin White. Devin White has had a C on his chest for 3 years. If we’re going to overpay for mediocrity, I’d prefer to pay Devin White because he has way more potential than Baker Mayfield.

    We know what Baker is. We know his ceiling. He’s decent. Not great. Not elite. But he’s good enough. If Baker wanted to return for 10 mil or less next season, I’d have no objections. But he’s going to be looking for 15-30 million a year. Imo we need to let him go get paid in FA Nick Foles style.

  14. A Bucs Fan Says:

    I’m starting to come around on Baker. I think as a Bucs fan I’m so used to mediocre to bad QB play and middling to poor football I had some jaundiced glasses when evaluating him. I also admit to not knowing just how dysfunctional the browns org seems to be and the more that comes out the worse they look the way they treated Baker.

    I still don’t know if he’s a franchise guy yet but if they win the division he has earned another year as the starter in Tampa.

    When he is playing well he reminds me of a cross between Brees and Eli Manning.

  15. bratsNbeers Says:

    tampa has a big manufacturing labor force. bout the same as pittsburgh. blue collar works for me.

  16. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    Pear bottom boy shut up with your fanbois dribble. There’s really only one Trask fanboi up here and most don’t care Baker is at the helm of the turn around because he was at the helm for the slide as well. You fanbois can be such moerons.

    The team is coming together and Cornales is almost finding what works best hopefully Blowels won’t blow the games like Houston and Atlanta and numerous others with a game plan that allows back up and rookie qbs look all world. If they’re gelling at at the right time we definitely won’t go out with a whimper. Looking forward to these last two games hoping thru click a little more each game

  17. Larrd Says:

    Maybe blue collar team/service industry town?

  18. Pryda…sec147 Says:

    I would love for us to make a run in the playoffs ! We can definitely make some noise

  19. orlbucfan Says:

    Bucs will win this next game. That means no more spelling BOWLES as BOWEL movement. I am sick of that one. It looks like Canales is FINALLY getting on the same page with his Offensive players. I have been howling for him to start spreading the ball around. Let the OLine mature. He’s got a ton of sure handed receivers. No, forget running up the middle on first down. Are you kidding?? He’s finally spreading the ball to everyone including the RBs like White. I am also interested in what Coach Bowles dictates to Devin White. LVD has to have breathers. You kidding? Bowles likes sack packages? Get a few DBs like Izien in on those plays, too. Aints won’t know what hit them.

  20. HC Grover Says:

    All for Run and Rum for All.. Yo Ho!

  21. Robbie Says:

    Great work, Ira. Couldn’t have said it better!

  22. Bojim Says:

    I believe I said that on several occasions. BWA HAHAHAHAHA. 😁

  23. Weebs10 Says:

    Can’t wait to clinch the division against the aints!

  24. TampabayDJ Says:

    Bucs are playing best when it matters most. You want to win in December, unlike a lot of other teams.. KC , Jacksonville, etc… Go Bucs and let’s put a beat down on the AINTS !!
    P.S. I sure hope you fake Bucs fans don’t sell your tickets to the AINTS fans , as you have already done ALL YEAR…

  25. ATLBuc Says:

    K Says:
    December 28th, 2023 at 2:53 pm
    I’m an imported fan from Ohio because of Bake.

    So, you moved to Tampa because of Baker???

  26. garro Says:

    All tue from all the folks quoted Joe!

    I did find it slightly amusing the sheer number of cliches used in this post. Not complaining, just noticing. LOL

    Go Bucs!

  27. garro Says:

    Sorry Ira….had an old man brain fart there.

    Go Bucs!