May 25, 2024

Not many days he doesn’t have ‘chip on his left shoulder’

“You can sense that, for sure,” Coen told reporters on Monday. “There’s not many days I don’t think Baker wakes up and he doesn’t have a chip on his left shoulder, but there is definitely a feeling that this is his team, and it’s OK to fail. It’s OK. Go out there, and let it rip, and be yourself every single day no matter what because you’re gonna be the guy and we believe in you. That’s something that ultimately he just hasn’t really had the opportunity to have all that often in his career. You definitely feel a quiet, calming confidence, but he’s still the same guy. He’s out there when we get on the grass, talking smack, getting after it and just having fun with the guys. I think that’s what ultimately makes him a great leader – it’s because he’s best friends with the O-line.”

The guy who once headbutted teammates sans helmet after a win certainly jives with an NFL locker room.

Last season, Mayfield’s willingness to battle for yards when the play broke down and his fearlessness endeared him to players and fans in Tampa. That willingness to take a hit helped improve his pocket play immensely last season — a weak spot early in his career.

Mayfield signed a new contract in Tampa this offseason and has proven a leader on and off the field. With Coen’s new offense being installed, the QB is at the forefront of the transition.

“Just a calm confidence, I think,” Coen said of the QB. “The atmosphere that we want to establish in the meeting room is one of the players being the drivers of it. Yes, we are installing and teaching a new offense, but he knows a lot of these things already. He’s heard them. He’s repped them. He’s just taking it over, and he has done a great job in the meeting room setting, talking to some of the guys. … That’s what we’re trying to establish. The confidence of throwing the football has been impressive thus far. We haven’t had a ton of balls hit the ground, and he’s throwing it with a lot of confidence right now.”

Part of the reason the Bucs plucked Coen from the college ranks to replace new Panthers head coach Dave Canales was his familiarity with Mayfield. Tampa hopes that connection helps the Bucs hit the ground running in 2024 as they attempt to win their fourth consecutive NFC South division title.