Baker Mayfield has taken Tampa Bay Buccaneers farther than Tom Brady did last season

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are going to play in a Divisional Round playoff game.

For some reason this strikes some people as an oddity. Obviously the Bucs are not who we have known them to be in recent memory what with Tom Brady not quarterbacking them, but this is their third appearance this far into the playoffs in the last four seasons.

Over three seasons with the GOAT at the helm, the Bucs made the playoffs in all three years and progressively faded earlier in them:

  • 2020 season…. Buccaneers won the Super Bowl
  • 2021 season…… Buccaneers lost in the Divisional Round
  • 2022 season….. Buccaneers lost in the Wild Card Round

Interestingly, those two playoff runs are bookended by teams with a below-.500 record. Tampa beat the Washington Football Team in the Wild Card Round of 2020 when WFT was south of .500 and then lost to the Dallas Cowboys in the same round last year when they themselves had a record of that variety.

Needless to say, the Buccaneers have been a unique team for the last handful of years.

While football is a team sport, many have sort of chalked up what they accomplished in that run to the play of Brady — which is why everybody wrote them off when Baker Mayfield was named their starting quarterback ahead of the season. But Baker has rallied, played well and authored the team’s first playoff win by a quarterback not named Tom Brady since Brad Johnson helped them win Super Bowl XXXVII.

Overall, the Bucs are a similar-ish team here in 2023 to what they were a season ago. Here are their DVOA ranks in each year, obviously they were significantly better the two years prior before Tom Brady started to fade.


  • Overall: 14
  • Offense: 18
  • Defense: 11
  • Special Teams: 31


  • Overall: 18
  • Offense: 20
  • Defense: 14
  • Special Teams: 18

Interestingly, the Bucs’ defense is worse in 2023 so the argument that the team is carrying Mayfield this year in a way they weren’t Brady last rings a bit hollow. Obviously Baker Mayfield is not the quarterback that Tom Brady was, but he did manage to oversee a group that performed better.

It isn’t just that Tampa won their first playoff game this season where they lost it last. The Bucs finished a whole game better record-wise in 2023 than they did in 2022 so Baker has actually helped the team win two more games than Brady’s last season with the team.

Way to go, Baker.

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