Unproven Quarterbacks Soften The Schedule

May 12th, 2023

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If it’s all about the quarterbacks, this Buc defense should have a ball this fall.

Todd Bowles won’t have to prepare for many veterans under center — and that plays to his strength as a defensive wizard. He’s masterful when it comes to befuddling quarterbacks with an array of deceptive pre-snap looks designed to generate confusion and uncertainty.

Carlton Davis should be among many Bucs smiling, writes Ira Kaufman.

This defense should be in good shape if the Bucs can survive a challenging September that includes the season-opener at Minnesota and a prime-time home matchup against the defending NFC champion Eagles.

Kirk Cousins isn’t easily rattled and the Vikings went 8-1 at home last season, so it’s no surprise the Bucs find themselves 7-point underdogs. Only Patrick Mahomes received more MVP votes than Jalen Hurts last year and his 23 rushing touchdowns the past two seasons are proof that Hurts is a major threat, in or out of the pocket.

On Oct. 1, the Bucs are in New Orleans, where the Saints have added 10-year veteran Derek Carr, and then the Bucs come off the bye to face the surging Lions and Jared Goff. While playing for the Rams, Goff has completed 84 passes for 893 yards and five TDs in his last two matchups against a Bowles defense, averaging 34 points.

But starting in Week 7, the Bucs could very well go through the rest of the season facing very few established passers.

Josh Allen will be waiting in Buffalo for a midseason Thursday night matchup and Buc fans know how dangerous he is. In December, Tampa Bay plays host to Jacksonville and former No. 1 overall pick Trevor Lawrence, who is starting to live up to the hype. The following week, the Bucs have a rematch against Carr and the Saints in the final home game.

Will Ryan Tannehill last until Week 10, or will the Bucs face raw rookie WIll Levis?

That’s seven proven quarterbacks on the schedule — eight if you include Ryan Tannehill of the Titans. But Tannehill turns 35 this summer and he wasn’t particularly effective in 2022, so there’s a decent chance rookie Will Levis will be under center for Tennessee by Week 10.

In the rest of Tampa Bay’s games, confusion should reign for opposing quarterbacks.

You’ve got two games against Atlanta’s Desmond Ridder, who has thrown two career TD passes. You’ve got two games against the Panthers and top overall pick Bryce Young. C.J Stroud, selected right after Carolina took Young, will be waiting when the Bucs travel to Houston. And following the Thursday night Bills game, Bowles will have extra time to assess Stroud’s strengths and weaknesses.

The 49ers are a very strong team, but young Brock Purdy is coming off elbow surgery and Trey Lance has four career starts. Rookie Anthony Richardson will likely be under center for the Colts in Week 12 and three weeks later, the Bucs will travel to Green Bay expecting to face Jordan Love, who has tossed all of three TD passes as a pro.

There are potential pitfalls in this schedule, however.

Because the bye week comes so early,  the Bucs must play their final 13 games without a break. There’s a stretch in midseason when Tampa Bay is on the road six times within an 8-week span.

The Bucs lost five of their final six road games last year, and that was with Tom Brady taking snaps instead of Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask.

Two more looks at Falcons QB Desmond Ridder are on the way.

Still, Bowles and his defensive staff will have a massive opportunity to capitalize on the inexperience of opposing quarterbacks. It’s not often that you face the prospect of playing as many as five games against rookies under center. If Calijah Kancey proves to be a disruptive presence up front, Young, Levis, Stroud and Richardson figure to struggle against Tampa Bay.

Add in two games against Ridder and a matchup against Love, Bowles will have every chance to school these youngsters into mistakes.

Make no mistake about it — this has the makings of an encouraging slate for Buc Nation. Only five of 17 games are against teams that made the playoffs in 2022.

Unproven quarterbacks dot the schedule.

Amid all that optimism, it’s safe to say Mayfield and Trask have much to prove as well.

One thing is quite certain. This is a quarterback-driven league, so it’s imperative that Bowles and company drive these young punks to drink.

13 Responses to “Unproven Quarterbacks Soften The Schedule”

  1. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    Yes, and the very best way to rattle rookie Quarterbacks is to pressure them relentlessly.
    This just may happen with Shaq coming back, and all these speedy rookies we drafted ?
    Atlanta scares me the most because they really run the ball well, and drafted the Texas Back. Because of their running game, their QB is seldom asked to win the game for them.

  2. Redeemer Says:

    The QB inevitably must win you games. Don’t care how good the defense is, or might be. Different league now. Unless you have that elite guy, defenses just can’t keep up anymore. Days of the 2k ravens are long gone

  3. Pelsbuc61 Says:

    Respectfully Ira, unproven QBs have historically done great against the Bucs. No names, second stringers and the like have feasted on past Bucs defenses, i.e. Purdy, the Browns QB last year, the Commanders QB. The Panthers QBs, etc….

  4. HC Grover Says:

    Yep like Mayfield and Track and Wolford.

  5. EEK Says:

    Pels that is kind of what I remember too

    Oh giving up first downs with all the 3rd & longs


  6. D-Rok Says:

    I heard on SiriusXM this week (it might’ve been a segment with Mark Dominik..?? don’t remember who was talking) that the Colts point-blank stated that AR will NOT play at all this season. Whether that’s the truth or not, we shall see.

  7. Goatfarmer Says:

    Bloweszo could allow 400 yards and 28 points to the 1976 Bucs.

  8. Aaron Says:

    Sigh…Ira has watched enough Buccaneer football to know we never take advantage of rookie or unproven QBs…it’s going to give Bowles an excuse to play our horrid zone…

    2024 can’t come fast enough

  9. Goatfarmer Says:

    At least Bucs’ headcoich has made sure his defensive players bust their assignments regularly and especially at critical times. His first accomplishment with the offense was bringing some nice bust culture to the OL. And, he had Leftwurst to blame.

    Not any more.

  10. Voice of Truth Says:

    Hahahahahahaha!!!!! Bowles gets blown away by anyone with an IQ over 50

    Ridder, Purdy, heck PJ Walker blew him away!!!!

    Todd is a joke and we will be lucky to win 6 games

  11. FortMyersDave Says:

    I like Ira’s optimism but having to play all of these rookie and young QBs could also give them an opportunity to have a Pro-Bowl like day against Bowel’s defense. Bucs D has been known to let back ups and 3rd stringers look like Kurt Warner with the ’99 Rams from time to time…..

  12. garro Says:

    Ira love the idea that we are facing a bunch of rookies and “unproven” QBs…But Our history with Rookie “unproven” QBs is in short horrible. Not sure why these guys seem to have career days against our defense but it has become a problem.

  13. orlbucfan Says:

    Ira, since when have the Bucs ever played a cupcake schedule?? You’re the expert but I’ve been following them faithfully since 1979. I know Bowles will field a decent defense. What I’m looking at is his HC performance. I’m looking forward to seeing what Kyle Trask has in the QB tank. At least, ME13, LVD (who will retire as a Buc 🙂), and CG14 are back.