TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – With the completion of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ first week of organized team activities (OTAs), the Bucs have yet to determine who will officially lead the team come September.
When the Bucs signed quarterback Baker Mayfield to a one-year contract in March, fans assumed he would be the starter, but quarterback Kyle Trask hasn’t been completely ruled out either.
However, if Mayfield becomes the starter, what kind of quarterback will he be? And if he doesn’t perform up to the team’s standards, when could the Bucs switch to Trask?
WFLA News Channel 8 Bucs Insiders Dan Lucas and Karen Loftus broke down all the quarterback scenarios for the upcoming 2023 NFL season.
“I’m curious to see how [Chris] Godwin and [Mike] Evans fit in with Baker Mayfield,” Lucas said. “Because you’re now bringing in – hear me out – Baker Mayfield now comes into play with better mobility than Jameis [Winston] and I can see him extending plays. Where do Evans and Godwin fit into that.”
“Is this going to turn into Baker scrambling more if a play breaks down rather than the pass play proceeding as it was planned and Baker gaining eight yards on the ground and having that become an effective option,” Lucas continued.
He went on to say that he’s thinking of the Seahawks’ quarterback Geno Smith and the team’s revival and how it fits in with Dave Canales – the new Bucs’ offensive coordinator, who was previously the quarterbacks coach at Seattle.
If Mayfield can scramble and gain yards on foot, then he’ll already be producing more downfield plays by running than Brady did during his Tampa Bay tenure. Lucas said Brady didn’t run, and when he did, it wasn’t that successful.
“Tom Brady did not do that. He ran a couple of times, and what did we do? We talked about it for three days because it was the craziest thing we’ve ever seen,” Lucas said. “Even [Brady] made fun of it. That’s not what his game was. He would take a lot of sacks that I don’t think Baker is going to take.”
While former Bucs’ quarterback Tom Brady’s game might not have been running the ball, that’s not to say it isn’t Mayfield’s game. But even if he makes plays running, Mayfield will still have to be able to throw the ball downfield to produce scoring runs.
Since Mayfield will be playing alongside caliber receivers that he hasn’t necessarily experienced yet, like Evans, will Mayfield be able to consistently launch the ball downfield like Brady once did?
“I feel like that’s the big question mark,” Loftus added. “There were times when Mike Evans even said, ‘I caught so many passes, or had all those touchdowns in the one game because Brady is on the money that’s like a Hall of Fame quarterback.'”
Loftus said she doesn’t even know if NFL fans would want to get into the discussion of comparing the two quarterbacks because their playing style is so different.
“I don’t know if you even want to get into that territory of trying to compare Tom Brady’s abilities to Bakers, but you would hope that Baker would be able to, in moments, complete the throws that were necessary,” Loftus stated.
When Mayfield first arrived in Tampa, he said that he wasn’t going to try and be Tom Brady.
“Listen, I’m never going to be Tom Brady,” Mayfield told media. “There’s a reason he has won so many Super Bowls. He’s the greatest of all time, there’s no doubt about that. I’m not going to try and be Tom, I’m going to be me. That’s what’s gotten me to this point, we’re going to do it differently, but that’s what makes this league so special.”
Although Mayfield has already established that he’s going to play football the way he knows how, Bucs Insiders are already predicting when the team could potentially move on to Trask if they don’t like what they’re seeing from the former Heisman Trophy winner.
On Sept. 10, the Bucs will kick off their season with a tough matchup in Minnesota against the Vikings, and since they have an early bye week in Week 5, Lucas thinks that’s the perfect time for the team to switch quarterbacks if need be.
“That is a very difficult opener for the Bucs. The Vikings, who are loaded with expectations – they won the NFC North last year. Opening up at home, inside the dome, it’s loud in there,” Lucas said.
“And then the Bears, Eagles, and Saints, and then a bye week. They have a very early bye week,” Loftus added.
“Four weeks, in my opinion,” Lucas continued, “Four weeks, I don’t know if records matter, but that is Mayfield’s resume. That is him on the clock for four weeks and then Week 5 bye week. If it’s not working, then that’s when we could see Kyle Trask.”
Host J.B. Biunno and Loftus both chimed in, agreeing it was an interesting take but didn’t oppose the scenario.