Do the Bucs have a right choice at QB?

by Gary Shelton on August 21, 2023

in general

Is Mayfield this team's starter?/TAMPA BAY BUCS

Monday, 4 a.m.

The Chiefs are playing Patrick Mahomes. The Bengals are playing Joe Burrow. The Bills are playing  Josh Allen.

Todd Bowles is playing “I’ve got a secret.”

Another preseason game, another decent effort by his starting quarterback, and Bowles still isn’t saying anything.  Is it this guy? Is it that one? Mum’s the word. You didn’t hear it here first.

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So why are the Bucs being led by Quiet Todd?

Do you suppose he’s still waiting for a better alternative?

I’ll be honest. I didn’t expect Bowles to come out today and say it was Kyle Trask or, more likely, Baker Mayfield. I did kind of expect him to come out and say “See! We’ve got a close competition, which I’ve said all along. Baker threw one incompletion in the opener. Kyle threw eight Saturday night. It’s neck and neck.” But Bowles didn’t say that. He acted as if reporters were trying to get him to give government secrets when they asked him about his starting quarterback, as if fans should simply trust him to tell them when he gets around to it.

“We don’t have a timetable on it,” Bowles said. “We’ll name it when we name it. We feel comfortable with where we’re at, so we’ll go from there.”

Hey, it isn’t as if one of these guys is going to run the wishbone and the other is going to run the single wing. Pretty much, Mayfield and Trask are going to run the same offense, behind the same awful offensive line, behind the same stumbling running backs.

And it isn’t as if one player is going to rally the fans. There are those who want to compare Trask with Tom Brady, which is silly. There are others who want to think of Mayfield as this year’s Geno Smith, which is folly. Trask completed three passes last year; Mayfield said goodbye to three teams. They each provided one whole touchdown in their games, which isn’t enough.

It’s 11 o’clock. So why not say who the starter is?

Well, because it may change in a hurry, that’s why.

 For those of you who have veins popping out in your neck as you passionately argue over Mayfield or Trask, here’s the deal. The answer is probably both. I don’t think either quarterback is going to start wire-to-wire. If you want a heated discussion, you can argue who starts more games. Does either player start nine times?

I think Mayfield starts at the start. Experience is going to be important on the road (at Minnesota) for the opener. But if he doesn’t go at least 2-2, I think Trask may debut by week five. Then week eight. Then week 11. Then week 15.

I’ll be honest. Trask was better than I thought he would be Saturday night against the Jets. Yes, he needs more points, but he was more accurate than I thought he would be.

“Poise,” Bowles said. “Poise in the pocket. A lot more athleticism – he used his legs when he had to and he was very successful at that. He threw the ball where he was supposed to throw it – he threw some pinpoint passes. He’d like to have a few plays back but overall, I saw a lot of poise and a lot of growth. I thought he did well.”

So how do you read Mayfield’s inactivity. Because he has no value, or because he has too darned much of it?

“It was all about whether we were going to keep the offensive line in the ballgame,”  Bowles said. “We really wanted to see Kyle [Trask] in a two-minute situation, so once we got to the two-minute situation and Kyle got that in, we really didn’t want to play Baker [Mayfield] in the second half because we were changing the line up. We wanted John [Wolford] to get some of the work so we left [Mayfield] out.”

Personally, I think the Bucs love this. I think they like having fans debate the quarterback so no one  notices the shambles of the offensive line or the blanks the team is shooting at running back. I think it’s a grand distraction. 

Look, whoever the Bucs name as quarterback, it’s going to disappoint a lot of fans. The reaction will be a resounding “oh” following by widespread skepticism. Whoever it is will have a lot of minds to change.

So why rush it and just encourage the punch lines?

For the record, I think Mayfield gets the first turn. 

I don’t think it lasts.

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