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The Tampa Bay Buccaneers would have plenty of issues to resolve even if Tom Brady had not retired. Everyone would still be learning a new offense, making sure anchor-of-the-offensive line Ryan Jensen got his knee healthy, making sure linebacker Devin White’s trade demands were truly a buried concern, and trying to get injured first-round pick Calijah Kancey ready for the season despite a stubborn calf strain.
But the problem is Tom Brady did retire.
So all those other training camp issues have become nuisances compared to the whopping, glowing-in-neon problem of finding a starting quarterback.
And two weeks into training camp that problem remains because neither Baker Mayfield nor Kyle Trask have separated to any convincing degree to actually earn the starting spot.
Baker Mayfield And Kyle Trask Compete
The two have been rotating first-team repetitions on a daily basis during training camp. And, according to Pewter Report, Mayfield will start the first preseason game against the Steelers on Friday evening while Trask will start the second preseason game at the Jets on Aug. 19.
So fair competition, right?
Nothing to see here, right?
The fact Mayfield hasn’t separated from Trask is notable. It says something about Mayfield in the system being installed by new offensive coordinator Dave Canales. And it says something about Trask, too.
The statement is Mayfield is not meeting expectations so far.
Mayfield, you see, has 69 NFL starts to his credit. The former first selection in the 2018 draft was in this kind of situation last season when his time in Cleveland ended. He quickly established himself as the leader in a quarterback competition with Sam Darnold once he was traded to Carolina.
He won that job while learning a new offense against Darnold, who had a year of experience in the system. So Mayfield expected to do the similar thing in Tampa.
Kyle Trask Head-To-Head In QB Race
But here is Mayfield, who has thrown over 100 TD passes in the NFL, locked in mortal combat with a third-year player who has completed three passes in the pros.
The obvious suggestion here is Mayfield has been surprisingly disappointing.
But that’s a suggestion the Buccaneers are privately denying. The team’s narrative is Trask has earned the full evaluation he is getting as the possible starter. Trask is simply getting a fair opportunity, a club source said.
The club also privately insists 1. It’s early. 2. This is not about Mayfield failing so far in any way.
The Buccaneers still hope Mayfield can this season resurrect his career under Canales as the offensive coordinator the same way Geno Smith last season resurrected his career in Seattle under Canales as his quarterback coach.
Mayfield Leads Buccaneers In Interceptions
Mayfield has definitely struggled in camp so far.
He’s thrown a lot of interceptions since the start of camp. FOXsports reporter Greg Auman recently noted Mayfield had seven interceptions through nine practices. And that’s not just in 11 on 11 drills. That includes 7 on 7 drills where the quarterback is not rushed by a defensive front.
Trask, meanwhile, had one interception during those nine practices.
Bucs coach Todd Bowles is a defensive minded coach who understands the importance of turnovers. He wants his defense to provide those turnovers. And he simply hates it when his quarterbacks gift possessions to the other team.
And experimenting in practice is not an excuse.
Practice No Reason For Mayfield Picks
“You always have margin for error, [but] no matter what you’re learning, you don’t want to turn the ball over,” Bowles said over the weekend. “…You don’t ever want to turn the ball over if you can help it – whether you throw it away, throw it in the dirt. Some things you want to try out and get the kinks out and there’s a certain amount of time for that, but as you get closer to preseason and the season, you definitely don’t want to turn the ball over.”
That message got to Mayfield long ago. If it didn’t, that would be problematic.
But Trask, with only one career start, is getting the drift as well.
“I’ve definitely been seeing what you can and can’t do for the past two years,” Trask said Monday. “I think I have a much better idea now. So, I know what situations you have to take more risks in. And I think if we can just play clean as an offense, that’s going to give us a best chance to win in the end.
“I’m just trying to do the best I can do, which includes protecting the football.”
So the competition will continue. And while the club will eventually pick its starter for the Sept. 10 regular-season opener in Minnesota, it might be a season-long battle if Mayfield’s recent in-season history is an indicator.