Bucs' Cody Mauch gets vote as the team's most improved offensive player

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Offensive Guard Cody Mauch (69) run blocks during the regular season game between the Carolina Panthers and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on December 03, 2023 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Cliff Welch/Icon Spor

There is one name that quickly comes to mind for Tampa Bay Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales when asked which one of his players is the most improved.

"Cody Mauch, for sure," Canales said ."I would say Cody Mauch. Just being thrown into the fire and just kind of battling his way, like we’ve talked about before – working through the issues. I think there’s a depth to his person [where] he doesn’t get shaken. A lot of times, you get a rookie and all of a sudden, they start losing confidence. You start thinking about, ‘Should we be playing a veteran in this spot?’ I just saw him stay steady. He’s got that hard work ethic, and he’s just a really even-keeled guy, and he’s really smart. So, to see him process those things, but not over process it to the point where it was crippling to his performance – I can’t be more proud of the progress he’s made."

"I think it’s one of the hardest positions to put a rookie in to start – seeing all of the defensive blitzes and different fronts," Bucs Head Coach Todd Bowles said. "He’s seen probably an All-Pro guy every weekend. Cody is tough, he’s very smart, and his footwork has gotten better. He’s playing tougher, he’s playing smarter, he’s playing with better leverage. We kind of like where he’s at. He just keeps ascending for us."

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Mauch got off to a rough rookie start, struggling with protection and run blocking. His transformation from a left tackle in college to right guard took some time and a lot of work. But, the Bucs second round pick this year is proving his worth.

"Phenomenal player," Bucs' Luke Goedeke said. "He's come a long way since the beginning of the season. Just the transition from tackle to guard isn't an easy one obviously. Let alone switching sides is an even more difficult one."

"I would say [my] head is not as much like a chicken with its head cut off," Mauch said. "Those first couple games, everything is so fast, it’s like, ‘What do I do? Where do I go?’ I think it’s just really [that] I’ve calmed down a lot in there. That’s really helped me play a lot faster."

There is a direct correlation between Mauch's progress and the Bucs' improved running game. They just put together their two best rushing performances and a majority of the runs have been to Mauch's side of the line. 

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Mauch credits his back-to-back performances against the 49ers and Colts.

"Yeah, I felt pretty good that game [49ers] – felt pretty comfortable," Mauch said. "Especially to be able to do it against great competition like that – that’s really something to kind of hang your hat on. Obviously, [there is] a lot to improve [on]. There always is."

Mauch is developing some grit in his game, which will only make him tougher to play against. He became a quick target for the Panthers' Brian Burns, who was ejected after hitting Mauch with a right hook after one of the Bucs linemen got under his skin. Mauch can take a hit.

"He can take a punch," Bucs quarterback Baker Mayfield laughed. "I’m not sure he deserved it, but yeah, he took it. He wore it. It didn’t knock another tooth out, though."

"That’s right," Mauch laughed. "I’ve got to keep the ones that I do have."

His remaining teeth are intact, and his game is on solid ground.