Vikings Can Exact Revenge against Baker Mayfield

Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings play host to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday as they open their 2023 NFL regular season schedule. Kevin O’Connell is looking to start year two off on a good foot, and Brian Flores wants to create a new identity for the defense. Getting revenge against Baker Mayfield would be a fun way to do that.

Vikings Can Exact Revenge against Baker Mayfield

Baker Mayfield comes to Tampa Bay as the quarterback, taking over for Tom Brady. No matter who was under center, a significant dropoff would be felt, replacing one of the best ever to play the game. The opportunity represents a fresh start for Mayfield after playing for two organizations trending downwards a year ago.

Revenge against Baker
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In Tampa Bay, Mayfield will be allowed to run with a starting role. Kyle Trask is his backup, which should give Mayfield plenty of leash to operate within the offense without looking over his shoulder. Even on a one-year deal, Mayfield hasn’t had this sort of opportunity since he was drafted out of college by the Cleveland Browns.

Back in 2021, playing for Cleveland, Mayfield met the Vikings for the only time in his career. Playing at U.S. Bank Stadium under head coach Kevin Stefanski, Mayfield orchestrated a 14-7 victory over Minnesota. After getting behind by a touchdown in the first quarter, Mayfield helped the Browns to score 11 second-quarter points and take a lead. The defense held tight that day, and a field goal in the fourth quarter was the only thing Cleveland needed to add for good measure.

Mayfield himself was pedestrian under center the last time he faced Minnesota. Throwing for just 155 yards on 33 attempts, he didn’t use his feet much either, as he scrambled just twice. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt did the heavy lifting, and on Sunday, the Vikings will need to keep Rachaad White in check for Tampa Bay. Although that Browns team did have Odell Beckham Jr., it stands to reason that the Buccaneers have significantly more pass-catching firepower.

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Minnesota should not expect to see Mayfield look to beat them on his own. The Buccaneers come to Minnesota as somewhat of a team in transition. Mayfield is on just a one-year contract, and while he could be playing for someone else next year, the goal would be to re-establish himself as a solid leader. The Vikings can dial up pressure to force decisions for him, and even with White in the backfield, forcing Mayfield to make decisions is a must.

For a team expected to experience some regression, the Vikings having the opportunity to host Tampa Bay at home seems like a solid entry into the 2023 season. It’s not as though Tampa Bay should be expected to flop, and the organization as a whole has experienced plenty of winning lately. Breaking in Mayfield as the starter could lead to some growing pains, and the Vikings will need to capitalize on opportunities as they seek to put forth a stronger defensive effort in 2023. What Minnesota does on the field in Week 1 can go a long way to defining what the team will be as a whole.

Vikings to Showcase
Minnesota Vikings Defensive Coordinator Brian Flores addressed the media from the TCO Performance Center. Flores was hired in February 2023 to take over for Ed Donatel after Minnesota finished 30th in points allowed.

O’Connell wasn’t with Minnesota when Mike Zimmer or Kevin Stefanski were. He wasn’t part of the Vikings loss to Mayfield and the Browns a couple of seasons ago. However, plenty of his roster was, and making sure Mayfield doesn’t get them again should be a focal point. The Vikings have opportunity in front of them, and now they just need to capitalize on it.

Ted Schwerzler is a blogger from the Twin Cities that is focused on all things Minnesota Twins and Minnesota Vikings. He’s active on Twitter and writes weekly for Twins Daily. As a former college athlete and avid sports fan, covering our pro teams with a passion has always seemed like such a natural outlet.