Did Baker Mayfield Steal Vikings’ Defensive Signals in Week 1

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Minnesota Vikings
Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Vikings lost in a close opening season contest vs Baker Mayfield and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last weekend; a game they would have won, had it not been for terribly timed mental mistakes and a 0-3 deficit in the turnover battle.

Did Baker Mayfield steal Vikings defensive signals?

But was there another reason for the Vikings 20-17 loss? Well, Bucs running back Rashad White seems to think so. This week, White told Buccaneers Radio Network that Mayfield knew all of the Minnesota’s defensive signals by halftime of week 1.

“I just remember Bake came in the locker room, literally at halftime, he said, ‘I got it. We got all these signals,’” White said of Mayfield. “We’re in there talking as an offense and he’s like, ‘I know all these signals. If they do this, they’re going into Cover-2. If they do this, they’re going into Cover-3. Every time I alert this and they do this signal, they’re dropping back to this.’ And I’m like, ‘Wow, that’s amazing.’ … I was just listening to him and we were listening to him and we just kind of understood.”

Rashaad White – Buccaneers Radio Network (via JoeBucsFan.com)

Lots to unpack here…

There are a lot of questions that run through my head, when reading this quote. The first is, ‘wow… did Baker Mayfield steal Vikings defensive signals last weekend’? To that, the answer seems to be, no. Baker was asked about White’s interview during player press conferences on Wednesday.

Baker pointed to the mental chess game of every NFL game and, after praising Vikings’ defensive coordinator Brian Flores, talked about how some defenses give away certain tendencies more than others.

When pressed on the situation, Mayfield seemed to confirm that there was no cheating involved in the knowledge he had gained during Sunday’s contest with the Vikings with a witty reference to his MLB loyalties, saying “I’m a Texas Rangers fan, not a Houston Astros fan”.

So if Mayfield didn’t cheat, what happened and what does it mean about the Minnesota Vikings defense? Well, there are a few things that need unpacked, to answer these questions. For example, Tampa Bay head coach, Todd Bowles was asked about what White told the team’s radio network and he called it, “exaggerated”.

What does this mean for Brian Flores and the Minnesota Vikings defense?

What does that mean exactly? First, it’s possible Baker was exaggerating what he knew about the Vikings defense, when talking to teammates and coaches in the away team locker room at US Bank Stadium. He may have had an idea of what Flores was trying to do on defense and/or what signals the Vikings were using to check into certain defensive looks, both before and after the ball was snapped.

While the Bucs did play better in the 2nd half, doubling the Vikings’ time of possession, they were far from prolific, putting up a total of 147 yards in the final two quarters. If Baker did know what the Vikings were doing on every play of the 2nd half, he sure wasn’t able to attack it like one would hope.

In the same thought process, it’s also possible Bowles was talking about Rashaad White’s account from Mayfield’s halftime epiphany was exaggerated, when he spoke on the radio. Either way, this entire situation is a bad look for the Vikings defense and their new coordinator, Brian Flores.

Flores’ defensive reputation is built around smoke screens. How many rushers are coming and where are the mystery rushers coming from? If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense knew the answer to those questions, pre-snap during the second half, that’s a problem.

did baker mayfield steal vikings defensive signals
Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Clean up possible tells before Thursday Night Football

With that being said, the Vikings cannot go back in time and disguise their defense better vs the Bucs. In that sense, I am happy Rashaad White said what he did in that interview. Now, Flores & Co. can take that information and apply it to their contest on Thursday night vs the Philadelphia Eagles.

Related: Minnesota Vikings vs Eagles: Preview, Predictions and Keys to Victory

If they believe there was any way Baker Mayfield did read their pre-snap defensive checks/signals last weekend, they can now fix those tells so Jalen Hurts can’t do the same thing.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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