QB guru Jordan Palmer explains why Baker Mayfield’s Buccaneers success comes as no surprise

One of the more surprising starts to this early NFL season comes from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who lead the NFC South with a 3-1. The retirement of Tom Brady, for good this time, led to the Bucs needing to find a replacement quarterback, which automatically had low expectations. 

Tampa chose Baker Mayfield in free agency, and so far, he’s made the best of a situation he wasn’t expected to flourish in. 

However, a close friend of Mayfield thought differently when speaking to some colleagues around the game. 

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Baker Mayfield of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers attempts a pass against the New Orleans Saints at Caesars Superdome on Oct. 1, 2023, in New Orleans. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Jordan Palmer, quarterback consultant and former signal caller in the NFL, was telling people that he believed Mayfield was going to thrive with the Bucs. He explained why. 

“Because when he’s counted out, and somebody says, ‘This is your last chance,’ he’s pretty good. He’s really good,” Palmer told Fox News Digital. 

Mayfield’s football journey has been a well-documented underdog tale. He wanted to go to the University of Texas coming out of high school, but the Longhorns program didn’t want him. He walks on at two different schools – Texas Tech and Oklahoma – before eventually becoming the first walk-on in NCAA history to win the Heisman Trophy. 

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Mayfield was taken by the Cleveland Browns with the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft, but it was a roller coaster four seasons that ended up with the franchise trading him away to the Carolina Panthers before the start of the 2022 campaign to make way for Deshaun Watson. 

Then, the Panthers ended up moving on from Mayfield, releasing him after he went 1-5 as a starter with the team. He was picked up by the Los Angeles Rams, where he went 1-3 to end the season before looking for his next opportunity in free agency. 

When the Bucs were chosen, Palmer had a feeling it was a situation Mayfield could be successful. 

“Add in some playmakers and some players on that team in that locker room who have Super Bowl rings in a division that’s up for grabs in the NFC South, you’ve got a pretty good Bucs team that has a leader that’s mature and kinda been there and done that,” Palmer said. “I think the Bucs found a great free agent acquisition in him, and he found a perfect home. I’m excited to see what the Bucs do.”

The numbers haven’t jumped off the page for Mayfield, but he’s thrown for seven touchdowns to two interceptions with 882 yards passing. Yet, he’s making the necessary throws to put his offense in a position to win games – something Palmer says is crucial in earning the respect of the locker room. 

Bake Mayfield scrambles

Baker Mayfield of the Buccaneers attempts a pass against the Chicago Bears at Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 17, 2023, in Tampa, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

“I’ll just say this: I don’t care who your wideouts are. If there’s opportunities they have to get open down the field, you hit them more often than you don’t, or you hit them most of the times,” Palmer said. “Like if we run that sluggo, and you actually hit it. And if we get the post over the top versus quarters [coverage], and you hit him. They’re going to love you.”

Palmer has said in the past that Mayfield is a very likable player to have in the locker room, and on his “The QB Room” podcast, NFL fans could tell why. 

“That respect is everything to me,” Mayfield told Palmer and his co-host, Buffalo Bills backup quarterback Kyle Allen, when talking about his new teammates. 

Palmer explained why it isn’t just Mayfield’s personality that gains mutual respect with the locker room. 

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“I always say there’s a couple of universal languages in an NFL locker room. Toughness is one of them,” Palmer said. “You can be a punk, or you can be the man. You can be from the hood, or you can be from the country. But toughness? We speak toughness. Work ethic, that’s a universal language. And then making plays. We need you to make this block, we need you to run your lane in kickoff, we need you to get this stop, we need you to make this throw. 

“I see Baker as a tough, hard-working guy who’s making plays and that’s universal language to speak to any guy in the locker room.”

Mayfield is saying the right things off the field and producing when he’s on it, showing the NFL that the Bucs are no slouches in 2023. 

Baker Mayfield looks on field

Baker Mayfield of the Buccaneers warms up prior to the Philadelphia Eagles game at Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 25, 2023, in Tampa. (Perry Knotts/Getty Images)

And, despite being the leaders in their division, there are still likely skeptics out there waiting for the Bucs to implode. They’re still underdogs. 

But that seems to be a designation Mayfield doesn’t mind whatsoever.

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“I can’t speak for him, but if he has embraced the underdog mentality throughout his career, he should continue to do that because it’s gone really well for him.”