HEADLINE

New-look Baker Mayfield, Bucs welcome Eagles

Field Level Media

September 21, 2023 at 9:42 pm.

Much has changed for Baker Mayfield since the last time he faced the Philadelphia Eagles.

The resurgent Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback takes on the Eagles for the first time in nearly three years on Monday night in a clash of 2-0 teams in Tampa, Fla.

Mayfield was in his third season with the Browns when he directed a 22-17 victory over Philadelphia in Cleveland on Nov. 22, 2020.

Cleveland finished 11-5 and made the playoffs that season, but it was mostly downhill for Mayfield after that until his somewhat surprising success this year as Tom Brady’s successor. He went 6-8 with the Browns in 2021 and 2-8 with the Carolina Panthers and Los Angeles Rams last season.

Mayfield threw two touchdown passes in a season-opening win at Minnesota and completed 26 of 34 passes for 317 yards and a score in last Sunday’s 27-17 victory against Chicago. He has not thrown an interception, has been sacked only once and ranks fifth in the NFL in passer rating (104.4).

“He’s been through a lot in five years. He’s been through the ups and downs,” Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said of Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick in 2018. “He knows it’s not about him. It’s about the team. He’s being very smart with the football.”

Just a few weeks after Mayfield’s Browns beat the Eagles in 2020, the Jalen Hurts era began in Philadelphia as the then-rookie quarterback replaced Carson Wentz.

Even though Hurts won his first two starts this season and is 19-1 in his last 20 regular-season starts, his numbers are down this year under new offensive coordinator and play-caller Brian Johnson.

Entering Week 3, the Eagles ranked 27th in passing offense. A.J. Brown, who broke the franchise record with 1,496 receiving yards in 2022, has been held to 108 yards on 11 catches.

Philadelphia coach Nick Sirianni addressed the concerns before facing a Tampa Bay defense that has collected eight sacks and five takeaways. The Bucs have recorded 19 quarterback hits and limited both the Bears and Vikings to 17 points.

“We’re not in a panic mode or anything like that,” Sirianni said. “Have the pass numbers been down? Yeah. Does the defense play into that? Of course it does. And fortunately for us, we’re able to win on the ground and we’re able to win in the air. You are able to balance off of what the defense does. I thought Brian and the offensive staff did a phenomenal job.”

Sirianni sees the sluggish start for the defending NFC champions as an opportunity.

“It’s way easier to correct when you are 2-0 and no one’s feelings are in it,” Sirianni said. “A lot of teams would like to be sitting 2-0. Like I said, when you are in this position, and guys don’t know that we aren’t playing to the best of our abilities, that’s when you can make a lot of growth.”

The Eagles’ injury report was lengthy on Thursday but only wide receiver Quez Watkins (hamstring), running back Boston Scott (concussion) and safety Terrell Edmunds (illness) didn’t participate in some capacity. That includes cornerback James Bradberry, who missed Week 2 with a concussion.

Defensive tackle Calijah Kancey (calf) didn’t practice for the Bucs.