Buccaneers Answer Their Biggest Questions In Win Over Vikings


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are undefeated to start the 2023 season. They traveled to Minnesota yesterday and got a hard fought win over the Vikings. This was the first opportunity we’ve had to really see this team in action following a preseason where starters were used very sparingly, if at all.

This means that this game was the first chance we’ve had to have our collective concerns addressed. Let’s not kid ourselves, this Buccaneers team had a lot of questions to be answered coming into the season. It’s only one week, but we now have some of those answers. 

Following the first week, here’s how some of the Buccaneers biggest question marks performed in the win over the Vikings.

Baker Mayfield

The first 25 minutes of the game were rough for Baker Mayfield. The offense could do absolutely nothing and the quarterback was right at the heart of this problem. Despite a pair of Vikings fumbles to that point, it looked like the Bucs were only going to have three points at halftime.

This can be attributed to multiple things. One was the pressure that the Minnesota defense, led by Brian Flores, was putting on the offense. The other was the fact that Mayfield only played two drives with most of the starters and was seeing his first game action with star receiver Mike Evans.

However, once Mayfield got a feel for the pressure and or kicked off the game rust he settled in nicely. He finished the day with 173 passing yards and two touchdowns. As much as he struggled in the first half, Mayfield felt very in command of things in the second half, including two go ahead scores.

For a first game with the new offense, the overall take away was positive for Mayfield. He will only become more comfortable with his teammates and in his understanding of the playbook. If he can play like he did in the second half for a majority of this season, then this offense is going to be just fine.

Luke Goedeke

Perhaps the biggest mismatch coming into this game was Luke Goedeke making the move back to right tackle, after playing guard for most of last season, going against Danielle Hunter. Hunter has had double digit sacks in his last three healthy seasons, including over 14.0 twice. There is no question that he is one of the better pass rushers in the entire NFL.

However, this was not the mismatch that we expected. In fact, Goedeke got the better of this head to head for most of the day. Outside of a holding penalty and one sack, which was a poorly executed double team with Cody Mauch, Hunter was largely a non factor in this game. 

This is one of the more difficult matchups that Goedeke will see this year. As someone who had doubts about his transition to tackle, I am walking away extremely encouraged from this game. This was not just a decent showing, this was a great day for the second year player out of Central Michigan University.

Chris Izien

Izien was named the starting nickel defender after signing as an undrafted free agent following the NFL draft. Just saying that sentence out loud makes me uncomfortable as to what it could mean for an otherwise strong defense. Luckily, Izien put any concerns I had to bed in this game.

While it wasn’t a perfect performance, Izien was all over the field. His pressure from his blitzing helped the team get to Kirk Cousins for a sack. And of course, perhaps the biggest play of the game, the interception at the goal line to prevent the Vikings from taking the lead before halftime.

While there are a few things to clean up, this was a great overall showing for the rookie. He will only continue to improve as he adjusts to the speed and physicality of the NFL.

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