An underrated storyline from Week 1 of the 2023 NFL season was Baker Mayfield leading the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a road victory in their first game post-Tom Brady. Mayfield was sharp and efficient, particularly during the final 32 minutes of the game.
The reason for the improvement beginning close to halftime was because Mayfield began recognizing the signals the Minnesota Vikings defense was using. Bucs running back Rachaad White revealed as much during Tampa Bay’s weekly radio show.
We were paying attention the whole game to their signal calls, and I just remember, Bake came into the locker room at halftime and he said ‘I got it. We got all their signals. If they do this, they’re going into Cover 2. If they do this, they’re going into Cover 3.’
It’s a shrewd move from a veteran quarterback who is trying to find success in Tampa. Many might consider it cheating, but it’s a part of the game and it’s not frowned upon by the NFL.
Mayfield was asked about the signal-stealing on Wednesday by media, confirming he did use it to his advantage.
You’re always trying to find tendencies of a defense. Like I said postgame, it was a chess match during the first half. I can’t credit Brian Flores enough for how (the defense) was schemed up. It took us a little bit to adjust, but you try to find every advantage possible to win.
A separate reporter followed up and quipped that if Mayfeld keeps doing it, he might have some higher authorities coming to get him. The QB used the opportunity to take a subtle shot at the Houston Astros.
NFL copies MLB
The Astros were caught in a cheating scandal in which they used a center field video camera to steal catcher-pitcher signs during their World Series-winning season in 2017. MLB came down hard on the organization. Technically, sign stealing is legal in baseball, but it can’t happen through the use of technology.
So Mayfield can feel at ease with his on-field etiquette. At 28 years old on a one-year deal, he’ll do whatever it takes to win and revive his career.