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Buccaneers QB Baker Mayfield believes offense is 'close' to turnaround: 'We haven't played our best'

Dealing with a dinged-up knee and some soreness, Baker Mayfield appears to be good to go for Thursday night. 

Whether or not a healthy Buccaneers offense will be in place is the top talking point for Tampa Bay ahead of its Week 8 matchup against the host Buffalo Bills. 

Tampa's lost three of its last four with each of the defeats accompanied by 13 or fewer points scored – such as was the case in a 16-13 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. 

As Mayfield is starting for his fourth team in three seasons, he's no stranger to adversity or the topsy-turvy NFL world. Thusly, he's optimistic the Buccaneers can steer their ship through these currently choppy waters. 

"I think with any of those experiences you learn how to weather some of these storms, and you learn how to grow through them and handle them when certain situations come," Mayfield said Tuesday, via team transcript. "For right now – like we keep mentioning – just get our stuff fixed, be more detailed, fundamentally sound and good things will happen. When you re-watch the losses, we've played good teams, but we haven't played our best. So, for us, it's about us playing our best ball and focusing on what we can control and that's being fundamentally sound and doing our jobs."

While Mayfield and the offense are still looking to remedy their ills, his knee injury had him limited in practice Tuesday, a day after he was listed as not practicing for a walk-through.

"Yesterday I was pretty sore," Mayfield said. "Less than 24 hours after the game, that's kind of how it always goes. I just kind of re-aggravated what I did against the Saints. Nothing too bad, just pain tolerance and move on."

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Mayfield was dealing with some soreness and it wasn't considered major. It seems to be just that.

Nonetheless, it's lingering just as the Buccaneers' offensive issues are. Tampa is 23rd in the NFL in offense, with little balance as the passing game is 15th in the league in comparison to a 29th-ranked rushing attack. Furthermore, Tampa's 37.5 red zone scoring percentage is 28th in the league.

Sitting at 3-3 and fighting to three-peat as NFC South champions, the Buccaneers are working through some trials and tribulations that their offensive coordinator doesn't believe will be shipshape in short order.

"No quick fixes for where we're headed – just a lot of the same conversations," first-year OC Dave Canales said. "I hate to sound like a broken record, but fundamental execution … I thought the [running] backs ran harder this week – we had some opportunities there. Again, just kind of getting grooved in the system.

"Still would love to be able to run the ball with consistency and do that. Maybe that's me just being able to call more of those runs in different situations. But, yeah, definitely got to be better."

Perhaps due to pressing, Mayfield has thrown an interception in four straight games after going without one in his first two games this season.

"We're trying harder to throw the ball in certain situations," Canales said. "He would love to have a couple of those back. The tipped interception the other week, those are going to happen. The one on Sunday right there, if he gets the ball to Rachaad [White], we get a big gain. He knows. He knows that. At the same time, coach [Todd Bowles] has asked us to go and play the best offense we can to try and win the game. He really means that. For us, that means going for it. That means finding these opportunities to be able to stretch the field when we can. Being smart about that, of course, [but] trying to attack the coverages the right way. I love that. The guys love that. We have this free reign to just go and try to put our best foot forward. In the process, man I'd love to get this run game going, for sure."

There are a lot of questions posed to the Bucs heading into Thursday regarding their quarterback, their running game and their offense as a whole.

While Canales believes there are no easy fixes ahead, Mayfield is of the mind that they haven't been that far from success these past few weeks. It's just all about putting it together – unfortunately for them on a short week.

"We're just so close," Mayfield said. "I'm getting tired of saying that but it's the truth when you go back and watch [the film]. It's one play here or there that's going to make the difference in us keeping drives sustained, or the big plays over the top to get those explosive plays. We're close."

So's Week 8's kickoff, as the Buccaneers (3-3) face the Bills (4-3) Thursday night at 8:15 p.m. ET on Prime Video.

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