TAMPA — Baker Mayfield was a much better quarterback for the Bucs in the second half of their 20-17 win at Minnesota on Sunday and there’s a good reason for it.
He was able to decipher the Vikings’ pass coverage on defense based on their hand signals.
Running back Rachaad White made that revelation during an interview on the team’s website Tuesday.
“I just remember Bake came in the locker room, literally at halftime, he said, ‘I got it. We got all these signals,’ ” White said around the 10-minute mark on Bucs Total Access.
“We’re in there talking as an offense and he’s like, ‘I know all these signals. If they do this, they’re going into Cover 2. If they do this, they’re going into Cover 3. Every time I alert this and they do this signal, they’re dropping back to this.’ And I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ ... I was just listening to him and we were listening to him and we just kind of understood.”
After starting the game 3 of 11 passing for 12 yards, Mayfield warmed up quickly and went 18-of-23 for 161 yards and two touchdowns the rest of the way.
“When it comes down to that, you’re always trying to find tendencies of the defense,” Mayfield said Wednesday. “Just those in-game adjustments, you’re trying to find those tendencies and sometimes it’s a little different than others. That’s why, like I said post-game, it was a chess match there in the first half with some stall-out drives.
“They did a very, very good job and I can’t credit (defensive coordinator) Brian Flores enough for how they were schemed up against us. It took us a little bit to adjust but you try to find every advantage possible.”
How much did it help?
“Quite a bit,” Mayfield said.
To be clear, Mayfield doesn’t think stealing defensive signals is cheating. “Listen, I know we’re in Tampa but I’m a Texas Rangers fan, not a Houston Astros fan. So we’re not going to go there,” he said.
Mayfield was a notable addition to the injury report with a sore right throwing shoulder, but he had full participation in practice.
The same cannot be said for half of the starting secondary. Cornerback Carlton Davis (toe) and safety Christian Izien (concussion) did not practice.
Neither did rookie defensive lineman Calijah Kancey, who aggravated an existing calf injury. An MRI showed no further damage to the calf that has bothered him since early in training camp but coach Todd Bowles said the team was being cautious.
The Bucs signed offensive lineman John Molchon to their practice squad. He fills the spot left by Raiqwon O’Neal, who was signed to the Seahawks’ active roster.
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