Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Packers

December 17th, 2023


The Todd Bowles haters have been silenced — for now.

In replacing Byron Leftwich as the poster child for Tampa Bay’s struggles, Bowles has taken a lot of heat this season from disgruntled fans. But even the most fervent Bowles skeptics have to acknowledge the Bucs are playing winning football in December.

Sunday’s 34-20 triumph at Lambeau Field was a complete victory led by Baker Mayfield, Chris Godwin and a defense that made just enough plays to even the Bucs at 7-7, keeping them in control of their own playoff destiny.

It wasn’t like the Packers didn’t need the game, either. Green Bay’s postseason chances took a massive hit because the Bucs made big plays, winning plays, when it counted.

Every time Green Bay appeared to grab momentum, Mayfield answered with a long scoring drive that sapped the life out of Packer Nation. Tampa Bay overcame a costly early turnover and played mistake-free football for most of the final three quarters.

A third consecutive NFC South crown is within their grasp and the Bucs also have a legitimate shot at an NFC wild-card spot. The NFL standings suggest a 9-8 finish would be good enough for Tampa Bay to advance to the postseason.

And guess what? That scenario would also keep Bowles at One Buc Place for at least one more year.

The Buc offense, so pedestrian for much of the season, was outstanding on Sunday, rolling up 452 yards while converting 7-for-11 on third down. Godwin was money on the money down, with four of his 10 catches.

Pass protection was an issue in the opening half and Mayfield didn’t help himself by holding onto the ball for too long on several occasions. The second half was a different story as Mayfield, given more time, shredded the Packers with sharp, accurate throws over the middle.

Rachaad White did his thing, running for 89 yards and adding 50 yards on his two receptions, including a long TD grab. Mike Evans joined the party with a scoring catch and even David Moore got into the action with his first TD as a Buccaneer, closing the scoring with a 52-yard grab.

The plane ride home from Wisconsin must have been joyous for a Buc team that is now riding a 3-game winning streak heading into a home matchup against the Jaguars.

At 4-7, Bowles appeared to have one foot out the door. At 7-7, the Glazers figure to be impressed by how hard this team is playing for its head coach. While a playoff berth is far from a certainty, it’s no longer a longshot.

Here’s how the Bucs reeled off three straight wins for the first time since late in the 2021 season:

* Mayfield’s first-quarter fumble was his fault, but he atoned with a sensational overall performance. In completing 22-of-28 passes for 381 yards and four scores, he attained a perfect passer rating of 158.3. He threw into tight windows, he trusted his targets and his passion proved contagious. Mayfield’s timing seemed a bit off the previous two weeks. On Sunday, his timing made Ringo Starr envious.

* Eight of Godwin’s 10 catches resulted in first downs as he ravaged the Packers from the slot. He’s been a missing cog in this offense for too long and now the Jaguars have to figure out how to deal with him and Evans. Good luck with that.

One of today’s dynamic duos.

* Dave Canales deserved a champagne toast on the ride home for savvy game-planning and play-calling. The Bucs ran just often enough and just well enough to keep Green Bay defenders off balance. The second-half offense was a treat to watch.

* Lavonte David was all over Lambeau Field with 9 stops, a half-sack and 2 tackles for loss. Bowles is fortunate to have No. 54 on his side, making plays from sideline to sideline. David turns 34 on Jan. 23 and wouldn’t it be a kick if the Buc season was still going?

* David has served as a mentor for Devin White since 2019, but that relationship will soon end. White was a healthy scratch in a critical game and the Buc coaching staff now feels the team plays better without him. White will hit the free-agent market in March at the age of 26, so he has time to resurrect a one-promising career. His replacement, K.J. Britt, has been a nice surprise.

More greatness from Lavonte David, writes Ira Kaufman.

* Jake Camarda made the most of his one punt, a 65-yard boomer that was downed at the 1-yard line.

* Another day at the office for remarkable safety Antoine Winfield Jr., who led the Bucs with 10 stops and his FIFTH forced fumble of the season.

* Jordan Love looks like he has a bright future. He completed 29 of his 39 throws and when Bowles reviews the film, he won’t be happy with how open some Green Bay receivers were all afternoon.

* You talk about a big-play attack … the Bucs had 10 snaps that gained 21 yards or more. The Packers had only three.

* The 2022 Bucs, with Tom Brady taking every snap, never scored more than 31 points. They’ve topped that mark twice this season, both on the road, and Tampa Bay is averaging 25 points over the past seven weeks. This Canales-Mayfield dynamic could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

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48 Responses to “Ira Kaufman’s 10 Takeaways From Bucs-Packers”

  1. Mike C Says:

    Keep it rolling Bucs!!!

  2. Colonel Angus Says:

    4-2 over last 6. Maybe it’s coming together.

  3. Zzbucs Says:

    Nailed it Sage!

  4. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Baker has earned QB1 status for 2024 (at a reasonable price of course)

  5. realistic-optimistic Says:

    All we have to do is play like that for the next 3 weeks. Super easy

  6. firethecannons Says:

    Thanks Ira–good eval!

  7. RGA Says:

    Baker played spectacular today, can he keep it going? If Baker can string together a few games like that then I’m all in, one great game is nice, consistent solid performances is another. Here’s to hoping Mayfield has finally turned the corner and will play this well next week and is not a one hit wonder.

  8. Oxycondomns Says:

    Dont know the scenarios but the slimy saints an important game. They took care of the team that manhandled the packers on Monday night. Nfc south may not be the only weak divisions.

  9. adam from ny Says:

    nice one ira…

    and with the growth of rb1 and CG14 now in the slot, it could be the secret missing ingredient to create a potent offense

  10. All_da_way Says:

    Fix the holes in cover 3 coverage teams keep exploiting and the defense will tighten up.

  11. Baking with Canales Says:

    Let’s keep chopping that wood!
    Great one Irá.
    Go Bucs!!!

  12. Rayjay1122 Says:

    When we drafted Jake Camarda, we did not draft a punter. We drafted a football player who is great at punting.

  13. RuKa Says:

    Finally a good complete game from the Bucs! Congrats first to Todd Bowles: all my respect for adjusting, learning and have the courage to do watts right and sit D. White. Well done!

  14. Dan the Bucs fan Says:

    Bowles certainly will be back next year as will Baker. This team is heading in right direction and playing there best football when it matters most. Win either of the next two home games then beat Carolina final week and we will be in the playoffs. Bowles actually could win coach of the year. Showing just how dumb our fan base really is

  15. dmatt Says:

    You meant all we have to do is play like that n replicate the 8 games win we went on in 2020 after defeating another NFC north team. That impressive run lead us to Super Bowl winners.

  16. Jmarkbuc Says:

    Amazing how it almost always comes down to the Saints..

  17. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I was very impressed with Baker Mayfield today………if he can play more consistently, we should sign him.
    Chances are we won’t get a shot at a QB unless we cough up a bunch of draft capital.
    He needs another good performance vs Jaguars.

  18. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Its highly concerning that both Dean and Carlton Davis, who have been in Bowels system for years are blowing basic coverage assignments weekly.

    Lots of the veterans on defense got paid then checked out (Davis, Dean, Shaq)

  19. Jmarkbuc Says:


    That’s why I sincerely hope Bowles does not return. Will be glad to see the bloated staff go too..

    Had another instance of not enough men on the field today.

    Not good coaching. Not even average coaching.

  20. BucsFan81 Says:

    That Saints game on New Years Eve is going to be huge. That game is going to decide this division. I wouldn’t be shocked if the NFL flexed that game to a later time and not the 1pm slot.

  21. Richard Egan Says:

    Was at game today at Lambeau. Packer fans were great, very respectful of Bucs, Baker played awesome, great road trip.

  22. DavidBigBucsFan99 Says:

    Baker did not earn a new contract yet because he’s played as inconsistent as his record has shown. He helps win out rest of the season then yeah he does. He has to play better against better teams. If only Canales would call all his games like today you can see Baker was very confident in the calls. I really loved the 2 fake screens to Tompkins, Baker ran them very well with his subtle shoulder fake drew a defender off just enough and he was able to throw some nice lasers down the middle.

  23. Elite Vita Says:

    Do we draft a QB next year?

  24. Mr. Editor Says:

    My observations:

    1) I was floored when I heard the observation by Barber and company about the debate between Rashaad White and the coaching staff over his playing weight.

    2) Canales should still look into NOT running White between the tackles. That’s offensive football malpractice!

    3) The third down conversions in the second half were extraordinary!

    4) I agree Joe(s). Thank you, Mrs. Godwin!

    5) Ko Kieft might have just extended his career with the Bucs.

    6) Another Bucs “mystery” injury with Devin White, along with countless others, including JR “Easy Money” Sweezy.

    7) David Moore is lucky that the TD wasn’t called back. He would have had the shortest career in Buccaneers history.

    8) What are we going to do without Lavonte David?

    9) Matt Ryan hates the Buccaneers.

    10) Thank you, Carolina Panthers!

  25. Tbbucs3 Says:

    Mr. Editor,

    My favorite part of that horrible broadcast was Matt Ryan saying that Baker cant take a “bad sack” to get out of field goal range….hey Matt Ryan didnt you lose a superbowl by taking a bad sack??

  26. Duane in Sanford Says:

    Feels like we havent seen one of these games in a couple seasons. Evans and Godwin can take over games. What is it about a Bowles defense that makes it effective when held together by gum and duct tape? It seems like he does his better work when he has less to work with. Hoping this a sign of things to come.

  27. orlbucfan Says:

    Hey Ira, I’m been keeping the faith. I predicted a Bucs win. Canales schemed the gameplan I was hoping for. ME13, CG14, White, Otton and others caught passes. I wa so tired I slept through the 2nd half. Trying to finish all my Xmas cards. 🙂 I wish I was 30 years younger cos I would be at RJS next weekend. Bucs vs. Jags? You betcha! Don’t be surprised if this team goes 10-7. They won’t make the Stupid Bowl, but so what? They won their second one 3 years ago, and set a NFL record.

  28. SufferingSince76 Says:

    Dan the Bucs fan, you’re crazy if you think Bowles would even sniff coach of the year.

  29. ‘79 Defense Says:

    Love the Ringo reference, Ira. Keep referring to the Beatles every Now and Then.

  30. Miller5252 Says:

    @ Dan the Bucs Fan did I read that right?!?! Coach of the year???? Do you have a fishing pole with you??? They might be playing better football here but they’ve had too many bad games this year.

  31. Davenport Says:

    Coach of the Year?
    Settle down. He’s still a terrible coach and has underachieved in Tampa.

    Must say though, Canales is proving to be a quality co-ordinator.

  32. Beeej Says:

    “Elite Vita Says:
    December 17th, 2023 at 7:24 pm
    Do we draft a QB next year?”

    There’s MUCH improvement needed in pass rush

  33. steele Says:

    Sure, being gifted the worst division in the NFL, and the chance to play teams on off weeks like GB had today, they will make the playoffs. Perfume on the poo pile, Bowles will go nowhere, Baker will go nowhere, Canales will be called a genius.

    Nothing that you have watched this season has been a surprise. An average team full of troubles in a bad division. Baker Jeff Garcia Mayfield being exactly who he has always been, not great but not awful. Canales newbie, ups and downs. Bowles, same. Just because the fire is slightly dimmed in the dumpster doesn’t mean it isn’t burning.

  34. Beeej Says:

    Bucs lose “WE SUCK”

    Bucs win “Was a fluke”

  35. HC Grover Says:

    Godwin in the slot. Big.

  36. Luis Diaz Says:

    Steele, don’t be a clown. Mayfield is probably having 28 tds and over 4k yards for the season plus as of now the best 3rd down completion rate in the league.

  37. Gipper Says:

    David and RGA,

    Glad Baker has more to do than pay attention anything you “experts” say. You guys might be competitive in a game of beanbag toss. Leave the NFL to people who understand the game and the difficulty of it.

  38. Gipper Says:

    Leave it to another football expert to chastise “perfect” Mayfield for pocket fumble. Mayfield was right where he was supposed to be but he doesn’t have eyes in back of his head. Can’t see a defensive end that came back to him while throwing. Easy to second guess what he should have done. Not so easy when you are looking downfield and defender behind you.

  39. Buddha Says:

    The so-called ‘underachieving” coach Todd Bowles just won me a good deal of cash, going over 6.5 wins. Joe too.

  40. FortMyersDave Says:

    Coach of the Year? I think one might have to look at Indy or Houston for that. Bowles does not deserve to be in that conversation due to the debacles vs Houston and the ATL at RJS. Will he save his job? 10-7 and/or a playoff win will be my low mark for that. 9-8 and getting boat raced by Dallas again is not acceptable. However, nice win today by the Bucs, I did not think they would pull it off. The players are playing hard for Coach Dave and yes, Coach Bowles. If they were not fully behind the coaches, we would have seen results like the Chargers, ATL and Steelers had this weekend.

  41. PNW Buc Says:

    I like bowles a lot, but someone above said coach of the year?
    Time and personnel mismanagement throughout the season. I have a hard time forgiving 11 on 9 football. And how many games has he gone into halftime with the ball, three timeouts and time on the clock.
    One game at time boys, jags coming to town. They’re beatable.
    Let’s go Bucs

  42. nick houllis Says:

    Miller52– its a long shot Bowles coach of the year, but what’s more likely is Baker Comeback player of the year.

  43. maccafan Says:

    Surprised the Bucs won, thought Packers would be fired up after losing to the NY Giants. Good game all around but props to Baker Mayfield and Chris Godwin. You can’t get much better than what they did yesterday.

    For the Baker haters who have been silent for one week but ready to pounce, chew on these 2023 stats. Patrick Mahomes has thrown 25 TD passes this year with 13 INTs for 3,703 yards. Baker Mayfield has thrown 24 TD passes with 8 INTs for 3,315 yards. Now I am not saying Baker Mayfield is better or elite like Mahomes but for people to say Mayfield should be a “backup” QB is wrong. BTW- Mahomes is making 52.6 million dollars this year. Baker if he makes all the incentives in his contract will make 8 million dollars -lol.

  44. Gipper Says:


    I have put the same numbers out there for the idiots who say “looked good for one game.” The haters are not interested in facts or logic. They are football phonies who are probably failures in their own lives. The type who have always blamed the boss for always holding them back from great achievement. Always somebody else to blame. Failure to accept or take personal responsibility.

  45. Lakeland Steve Says:

    It was obvious the Packers didn’t think the Bucs were going to throw the ball very much. They were geared up to stop the run and Canales started throwing the ball down the field. Most teams would have made some changes at half time to try and stop the Bucs passing attack. The Packers either didnt or couldn’t make changes and the Bucs rolled. Great job by Baker and the offense. Let’s see if we can keep this thing rolling. You better believe the Jaguars will be playing to make the Bucs beat them running the ball.

  46. Gipper Says:

    Really interesting to see the comments from Mayfield haters just a couple of days ago. They may want to revise their own history but just go to “Last Legs” story on the 16th and see the vicious attacks on a guy who has played very well for a new team, new coach and new OC. By the way this story about Mayfield being a “journeyman backup QB” just isn’t true. Mayfield was traded after 2021 where he played with an injured shoulder the entire year. The Browns signed Watson in 2022. Baker was traded to a pathetic Panthers team that is still pathetic and got pounded because of a weak O line. Mayfield requested his release and went to Rams where they loved him. Rams had previously committed a huge sum to Mathew Stafford who incidentally Baker has outplayed this year with a weaker Tampa Bay team. On to Tampa this year and we are still waiting to see how the team finishes. Most experts predicted Tampa would win 5 games this year. Mayfield needs to sign with Pittsburgh next year. Hope he sticks it to the Browns 2x per year for the next 12. Also, hope all you Mayfield haters get your rookie QB in 2024. Maybe Bryce Young will be available for 3 1st round draft picks in 2024,25,26.

  47. Pickgrin Says:

    Ira – So Ringo Starr is your definition of ideal “timing”? LOL

    How about John Bonham or Neil Peart or Steve Gadd….

  48. Wes Hall Says:

    If Baker and the Bucs win out and make the playoffs, does Baker deserve “Comeback player of the year”? 3 year 32 million dollar contract. Baker is finding his groove and just getting started. Get him sum help and let’s kick the can further down the road. Morons.