For the casual football fans who watch out of familial or social obligation, a good story might be needed to hold genuine interest for an extended period of time. Look no further than the comeback campaign of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield.

The former No. 1 overall draft pick was flirting with bust territory after flaming out with the Carolina Panthers, but a brief stint with the Los Angeles Rams offered some hope that a resurgence was possible. The 2023-24 campaign could have easily marked the final year that Mayfield was a regular NFL starting QB. Instead, it signified the beginning of his rebirth.

The 28-year-old obtained redemption last season, and boy did he have to earn it. The Bucs took advantage of an uninspiring division, but an abysmal running game, leaky passing defense and inconsistent offensive line endangered their postseason streak. Mayfield himself contributed to the setbacks in what was a potentially costly loss to the New Orleans Saints in Week 17.

He threw two interceptions, as the Buccaneers floundered on their home field. The outcome could have resulted in a devastating end to the team's playoff hopes, and Mayfield's time in Tampa. An ugly win over the Carolina Panthers in the regular season finale resolved the first issue, but skepticism around the QB and franchise remained. Even a masterful performance against the Philadelphia Eagles in the NFC Wild Card Round did not completely dispel the Mayfield doubters.

The evidence was undeniable to the ultimate decision-makers, though. A gutsy effort versus the Detroit Lions did not culminate in triumph, but Tampa Bay had definitely found its leader. His vindication was formalized in writing, when he signed a three-year, $100 million contract.

Despite achieving all that success, head coach Todd Bowles believes Baker Mayfield can get even better.

Where Buccaneers' Baker Mayfield can improve next season

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) scrambles against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half of a 2024 NFC wild card game at Raymond James Stadium.
Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2017 Heisman Trophy winner threw for 4,044 passing yards and 28 touchdowns while totaling a 64.3 completion percentage (all career highs). Mayfield's accolades earned him an invitation to the 2024 Pro Bowl Games, where he was named MVP. His unexpected breakthrough is a testament to the importance of perseverance, and the impact a new environment can have on an individual.

But he is surely not content. Neither is his coach, who believes that Mayfield can continue his rise by making subtle but key adjustments.

“{There's} some nuances he can get better at to make us more efficient,” Bowles said at the NFL Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, per the Pewter Report's Matt Matera. “Would like him to slide a little bit more when he can [when scrambling]. Don’t want to take away none of his competitiveness, but just commanding the offense and putting us in great positions to put the ball where it needs to be and continue to do that.”

Mayfield was the sixth-most sacked quarterback in the league last year (40), so there is definitely merit to what Todd Bowles is saying. Displaying mobility in the pocket is especially important since it gives him time to potentially link up with deep threat and All-Pro wide receiver Mike Evans. It could also improve his throwing accuracy, which is still a work-in-progress.

Failure to make those tweaks could lead to a backslide for the Buccaneers, with the Atlanta Falcons well-positioned to challenge for the NFC South title after their huge free agency splash. No. 6 overcame pressure before and can do so again, but he will be forced to adapt to one major change in the Bay.

Baker Mayfield must press forward with a new OC

While many will credit a number of factors for Mayfield's growth, he deserves his time in the spotlight. Most QBs who have played under eight different head coaches in just six years would struggle to stay on the field. Instability is hazardous to this position more than any other in the NFL. And yet, he did not break.

But can he survive more turnover? Dave Canales left his offensive coordinator post to become the new Carolina Panthers HC. His play-calling helped Baker Mayfield quickly acclimate himself to the Buccaneers. He maximized the former Oklahoma star's strengths and set him up in favorable situations.

Mayfield's contract-securing campaign came a year after Canales served as the quarterbacks coach for the Seattle Seahawks, contributing to the resuscitation of Geno Smith's career. The 2022 Comeback Player of the Year visibly declined last season, however. It is reasonable to be concerned about the same thing happening on the Buccaneers.

At this point, though, Mayfield uses doubt as fuel. He can keep evolving with new OC Liam Coen and perfect the “nuances” that Todd Bowles discussed. And if he does, a fairy-tale run becomes unequivocal reality.