Skip to main content

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Baker Mayfield: Bucs Need to Improve in Red Zone

Tampa Bay's offense, with QB Baker Mayfield at the helm, has taken care of the football and done reasonably well on third downs but need to be more efficient in the red zone to get the scoring up

mayfield optinos 2

As Baker Mayfield can attest from seeing it on the practice field, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have an excellent red zone defense in 2023. In fact, through eight weeks it's the best in the league. Even after giving up two touchdowns on four Buffalo incursions inside the 20 last Thursday – that 50.0% mark is actually better than the league-wide average of 53.7% - the Bucs have still only allowed 27.3% of opposing red zone drives to reach the end zone.

Unfortunately, Tampa Bay's red zone results haven't been as good on the other side of the ball, and Mayfield points to that as one of the main areas where the Buccaneers need improvement.

"There is always something you can improve on, but especially right now," he said on Wednesday. "We've taken care of the ball for the most part, but I think about that – us doing our part. We haven't been great in the red zone. We've had good games [and] bad games on third downs, but we haven't been great in the red zone consistently. So, for me, that's where that comes into play. Instead of getting field goals, get touchdowns and momentum."

Mayfield is right on all accounts. The Buccaneers have taken care of the ball, with only six turnovers in seven games, which is tied for the second fewest for any team in the league. And they have had good and bad games on third down; they've converted over 50% of their third-down tries in four separate games, but in the loss to Detroit it was just 16.7% and last week in Buffalo it was 26.7%.

But the red zone results have been spotty. The Bucs have scored on 16 of their 17 drives inside the 20 but nine of those scores have been field goals. Tampa Bay's touchdown rate on red zone drives on offense is just 41.2%, good for 28th in the league. That's one reason the Bucs have averaged just 12.3 points per outing during their current three-game losing streak. Tampa Bay's defense has allowed 20 points per game in that same span, which is a bar Mayfield believes the offense should be able to clear.

"Obviously, our defense is playing well," he said. "For us, we take that accountability. You have to look yourself in the mirror after each game and each practice, see how I can get better and improve and help this team out."

The Buccaneers only got into Buffalo's red zone once on Thursday night and Mayfield completed that trip with a three-yard touchdown strike to wideout Chris Godwin. However, the Buccaneers had been rejected on all four of their red zone trips in the previous two games and have only really had one good game in that regard this year, when they scored three red zone touchdowns in a 26-9 win at New Orleans. Mayfield also threw a 24-yard touchdown pass to Mike Evans in Buffalo, bypassing the red zone, and overall has a fine 10-4 TD-INT ratio.

"Baker is doing fine," said Head Coach Todd Bowles of the Bucs' recent offensive struggles. "It's an offense as a total. Obviously, he gets all the credit when we win and he gets most of the blame when we lose. Baker is doing fine. He's captaining the ship very well. He had no turnovers last game. We've just got to get in sync there."

Latest Headlines