Football Outsiders: The Future Isn’t Now

May 15th, 2023

NFL analyst not sold.

You can sum up the Bucs’ last few years with the famous quote from Hall of Fame coach George Allen — and his reluctance to deal with rookies or stockpile draft picks.

“The future is now.”

That was logical and reasonable when your head coach was in his late-60s and the quarterback was in his mid-40s. And it worked! Scoreboard!

Well, the way Aaron Schatz sees it, the future for the Bucs won’t begin until next year.

Schatz, the founder and head honcho of the excellent football thinktank Football Outsiders, glances at the Bucs roster and cannot see a serious contender.

Schatz decided to study each NFL squad to determine its biggest position hole. For the Bucs, it’s the quarterback room, by design to draft a quarterback next spring.

Most of the football intelligentsia assumes that the Buccaneers are tanking this year to clear their salary cap and get a shot at one of the 2024 draft’s top quarterbacks — like Caleb Williams. Certainly, nobody expects the Bucs’ 2023 quarterbacks to still be starting for the team come 2024. Baker Mayfield has seen his QBR drop each of the past two seasons, with a really awful mark at 24.5 last year. And Kyle Trask wasn’t even able to get on the field over the past couple of years, not even in blowouts. Third quarterback? There isn’t even one on the roster.

Joe doesn’t think the Bucs are tanking. If they were, they would have done a better job of that this offseason.

The Bucs are serious about Baker Mayfield, and he showed enough with good coaching last year to offer legitimate hope. And the Baker Mayfield Project seems like a savvy low-risk, high-reward gamble. If Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales can turn Mayfield around, the Bucs have their quarterback for the next few years.

There is just too much talent on this team to envision tanking. And unless Bucs coach Todd Bowles has unknown assurances from Team Glazer that his job is secure, Bowles needs wins.

For what it’s worth, Mike Clay, a BSPN spreadsheeter, claims the Bucs will not draft in the top-five next spring. So there’s that.

23 Responses to “Football Outsiders: The Future Isn’t Now”

  1. Tim Says:

    Yeah, I could see the Bucs winning enough to be sitting at about #9 next draft, which would mean we’d have to throw in the 2025 first rounder and then some to be in position to draft Caleb or Maye. But it would still be worth it to have our own first real franchise QB.

  2. Hodad Says:

    You can tank a game at the end of the season, but the reality is you can’t tank a whole season. If you have bad coaching, and a bad roster, you’re not going to win much. That’s a whole lot different than tanking. To many players, coaches, trying to put out good film to stay employed. Every team is trying to win in the NFL. Teams that lose aren’t doing it on purpose, they just suck. I don’t believe any team starts the season thinking what can we do to lose every game. Such a B.S. media myth.

  3. Ryan Smith Says:

    I’m hoping Baker is like Alex Smith, and he finally develops after having a OC for more than 1 year. I would also trade Devin White if by October we our out of it. You probably ain’t gonna get a super high pick for him but if we get a 3rd maybe a 1st this year two 3rd round picks and then a 1st next year would be enough to move up for a QB.

  4. Brandon Says:

    If Baker Mayfield plays like average Baker Mayfield, the offense will be improved over last season. Tom Brady and his pre-called passes at or behind the line of scrimmage and his statue like mobility were primary reasons why our offense was one of the league’s worst. The defense SHOULD be improved. We SHOULD be better than last season based on the improvement on both sides of the ball.

  5. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    Putting a lot on a oc who’s never called plays

  6. HC Grover Says:

    The HC has so little talent I can envision tanking.

  7. Jay Says:

    I have a question regarding drafting a quarterback, when has this team ever produced a top tier quarterback? We have 2 more championships than most teams in the NFL and we did it with someone else’s QB . I don’t want another 5yrs of Winston praying the guy finds his way while we loose .

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    If we were tanking, we would have traded a couple of players for future draft picks……still possible

  9. SB~LV Says:

    But the uncertainty has the fan base with restless leg syndrome

  10. Beej Says:

    When these prognosticators are right about something, it’s more coincidence than anything

  11. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    Is it just me or does the thumbnail picture make Baker look like he is the engineer on the Safari train at Busch Gardens?

  12. Tiny Dungy Says:

    Agree with BA’s red pen. Baker the Busch Gardens Safari guide.

    Joes, they’re probably hundreds of pictures of Baker Mayfield in the public domain. Can’t you find a little bit more flattering shot? Give the guy a chance to make a new start in Tampa Bay.

  13. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I think Baker Mayfield will make us a competitive team, combined with our improved pass rush.
    We are not tanking, we are trying our best to put a decent team on the field this year.
    How successful we will be is anyone’s guess because the rest of the NFL South has improved too.

  14. Leighroy Says:

    Baker looks like Andre from The League in this photo. That’s unfortunate for him

  15. jarrett Says:


  16. jarrett Says:


  17. ATLBuc Says:

    Is that Baker? I thought that was Crocodile Dundee.
    There is a lot of negativity surrounding this team. But, I really have a lot to look forward to seeing this fall. We have one of the best cornerback duos in the league. We also have a top-five safety. If we can stop the run, and get some pressure on the qb, we will have a top-five defense in my opinion. Also, with the exception of last year, our office of line Had been pretty good. I will attribute last year‘s office of lying woes to the offensive coordinator who really did not know how to scheme plays running or passing. If Canales can do for Trask, or Mayfield, what he did for Geno Smith, I think our offense will be just fine. All we need is Brad Johnson like production

  18. 1#bucsfan Says:

    Most people , analyst and fans even me don’t know what goes on behind the walls a 1buc but it’s seriously obvious why trask didn’t get on the field. It’s not that he couldn’t beat out Blaine and has everything todo with coaches wanted Blaine backing up Brady who took every snap. There’s a reason he as taken in the 2nd round. Have him be groomed and watch from the back back seat. Nothing wrong with that. His time will come. I don’t think it’s even a QB competition it’s bakers job to lose. But trask has more upside than baker n when trask gets a legit shot he will take it

  19. Craig Says:

    It is painfully obvious why Trask didn’t get on the field: Tom Brady was here.

    Not even the Bowles cleaner is dumb enough to sit TB, and TB wanted experienced back up.

    This is not the year, the Bowles cleaner will stick his fingers in the pie and install Mayfly as the starter. He might make it to the bye, but even there he will have dug a hole in the win-loss record.

    Trask will take at least a few games before the game slows down for him, but he will do enough that Caleb Williams won’t be an issue.

    Williams probably shouldn’t be an issue anyway, his game really doesn’t look like it will translate into the NFL, at least not as well as Trask’s game does.

  20. Just Leave Trask Alone Says:

    Denial ain’t an river in Egypt.

    Mayfield is who his numbers say he is – a QB with a losing record who’s inaccurate and throws a lot INT. He didn’t average 200 ypg last season.

    Acting like the guy is elite in any capacity is nonsense.

    According to Joe, Mayfield is the unquestioned starter and the “competition” is nothing more than lipservice. Then again Joe wanted Wirfs to stay at RT when the team is getting younger. Love Joe’s site and the lively discussion it generates, but I’m glad Joe isn’t making personnel decisions.

    Really what Mayfield should be is an insurance policy. Then the move makes sense. You drafted a QB to be Brady’s successor. You don’t abandon that plan for Baker Mayfield. You bring Baker in as a failsafe.

    Right now the hard sell for Baker is on – and prognosticators are reacting accordingly. You signed Baker for 8M assuming he is handed the job? We’ll plan on stinking up the joint. Without a prolific passing offense – which Baker cannot provide – expect struggles. It’s been reported that some RPO has been seen in off-season practice. Think Baker stays healthy running option? LOL Baker needs a 1500 yard back to play action off of. Without that as we saw last year it’s a big struggle.

  21. SlyPirate Says:


    At the beginning of last season the Eagles were a team without a franchise QB. The Eagles built a defense, got some playmakers, and not Hurts is the 2nd highest paid QB in the league.

    This year come down to two things:
    1. how well the OL (& OC) perform
    2. maturation of the young defensive talent

  22. Goatfarmer Says:

    I agree with many, that photo really makes Baker look like a goober.

  23. garro Says:

    So some dude from some lame ass stat geek “football intelligentsia” website thinks something?
    Actually people have gone to jail for rigging sports scores and they should!
    Pete Rose was banned from baseball for just the possibility!
    Not to mention that the NFL will take away that coveted draft pick if they think you are tanking!
    When did tanking become acceptable for any professional sports team?
    All this tank talk is really starting to piss me off. This is totally asinine loser talk.