“Major Step Back”

June 13th, 2023

Bucs GM Jason Licht.

One national NFL columnist doesn’t believe the Bucs are “half-tanking.”

While Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz of USA Today thinks Jason Licht did a nice job keeping Jamel Dean and Lavonte David, Bucs fans will have to seek a chiropractor to treat a “whiplash” from what Kyler Traskfield will do to the Bucs offense, Middlehurst-Schwartz believes.

He claims Traskfield is so bad, he will drag the Bucs down and spark a full team rebuild in 2024.

The real whiplash, however, stems from handing the quarterback reins previously held by Brady to either Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask, who have split first-team reps in organized team activities. Buccaneers officials have downplayed the ask being made of both passers, with coach Todd Bowles and first-year offensive coordinator Dave Canales emphasizing that the eventual starter will be pushed to be a distributor rather than a catalyst. That’s not exactly an inspiring outlook for an offense that ranked 25th in scoring (18.4 points per game) even with Brady serving as the engine. And with the offensive line in rough shape after dispatching left tackle Donovan Smith and right guard Shaq Mason, it’s difficult to envision either Mayfield or Trask getting the assistance they will sorely need to be a stable starter.

Given the state of the NFC South, it’s possible the defense buoys this team into contention for a third consecutive division crown. But a crash landing seems more likely, with a possible full rebuild coming next year.

The trick with that analysis is, yeah, the Bucs could have a good defense and that could carry them to the playoffs in a weaksauce NFC South. However, from where will the pass rush come?

Without a pass rush, it’s doubtful to believe the Bucs can have a dominant defense they can ride to the playoffs in January.

Lots of eyes will be on edge rusher Joe Tryon-Shoyinka to finally break out this fall. The Bucs need him badly to show up, especially if Traskfield struggles.

32 Responses to ““Major Step Back””

  1. Ko Kiefer Says:

    Let’s see if this defense are pretenders, or live up to their talent and be a top 3 unit.

    We shall see.

  2. HC Grover Says:

    Should have been a full rebuild this year. Maybe the two season ticket years sales had something to do with it all. Forced to buy two year tix. Is this why? Get ready for The Big Ugly.

  3. Beej Says:

    The author is under the impression the O line is worse for losing Shaq and Donnie. Anyhow, out of 22 starter positions, there REALLY aren’t many holes

  4. Allbuccedup Says:

    This is not a top 3 defensive unit maybe a top 12. With no offense it could be worse.

  5. Chris@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    These tanking articles are absurd. We are trying our best to win, with the money we have,

  6. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Bucs have gotten significantly younger…..and probably faster & more athletic.

    Gone are, Brady, Brate, D Smith, S Mason, Wells, Julio, Bernard, Lenny, Rudolph….Hicks, Gholston, Nacho, Ryan, Succop……

    And……don’t forget, we’ve got a punter.

  7. ModHairKen Says:

    Brady was not effective last year. Neither was the running game. It was a sub .500 team with horrible losses to inferior teams and a full humiliation at home v. Dallas.

    New S. New LT. New RT. New G. New DL. New K. New OC. New QB.

    How is that not a full rebuild?

  8. Joe in Michigan Says:

    The Bucs offense will probably be better this year than it was last year. IF some of the young guys step up on defense, the Bucs have a chance at winning the NFC South again this year.

  9. Joe in Michigan Says:

    HC Grover Says:
    June 13th, 2023 at 8:14 am
    Should have been a full rebuild this year. Maybe the two season ticket years sales had something to do with it all. Forced to buy two year tix. Is this why? Get ready for The Big Ugly.
    Doomsday Grover: Are you this miserable in every aspect of life, or just your takes on the Bucs?

  10. Smashsquatch Says:

    Fair points about oline & QB, too bad none of the experts are crediting Lefty for his impact. Addition by subtraction must be factored too. Bucs are a coin toss this year. I could see a meltdown just as easily as a division crown.

  11. Cobraboy Says:


    I hate this time of the football cycle, where “sensational” crap is pulled out of backsides in an effort to stay relevant and eyeballs on ads.

  12. Craig Says:

    It is not what the QBs will do TO the offense, it is what they can do WITH the offense.

    If Canales is a major upgrade from Leftie, he can cater the offense to the specific skills of the QBs.

    Then all of these prognosticators can be on the lookout for my raised middle finger.

    There is, of yet, no way to say the QBs will be bad. Just on the north side of mediocre could do a lot if the defense is worth raising a toast to.

  13. The Dave Says:

    I think five years is the statute of limitations on a Super Bowl win. We won the SB in 2020, so we can’t really gripe til 2025. I’d remind Joe’s readers that there are storied and older teams that haven’t even been to a SB, let alone won two of them. We’re in privileged territory, my friends, especially given that we are technically the losing-est NFL team of all time. Let’s be thankful on this June day.

  14. gotbbucs Says:

    If Ryan Jensen is healthy our offensive line will be good, especially with a non-nincompoop calling the offense.

    Everybody can keep on pretending Brady was still GOAT BRADY last year. He was not. He and Leftwich together brought this offense down to its knees. He sat in shotgun all game long with Self Preservation Lenny standing on his left hip to protect him when Donnie Smith inevitably whiffed on his pass set. Defenses only had to cover about 15 yards of field last year.

    I don’t have very high expectations for this season, but that’s not because I think the roster sucks, it’s mostly because being a long time Bucs fan has hardened me. As always, the offensive and defensive line will determine the season, I’m just not as down on those two units as everybody else.

  15. Dooley Says:

    No hero ball allowed. Line’em up, go through your reads pre-snap, make your adjustments/audibles and get the ball to the guys with way more talent than you the individual QB. The problem with the QB narrative, is that the exceptional outliers at the position have made it so every QB is talked about as if he should be playing above w/e talent he possess which leads to unrealistic expectations & a lot of disappointment.

  16. Metsguy75 Says:

    JTS is just an older version of JPP. Honestly would rather see Nassib or JPP runnin it. At this point what’s the worse of the three

  17. Canabuc Says:

    Having an offensive line that will be awhile with zone run blocking scheme and a loading game that doesn’t rely on slow developing plays will make the line look better this year.

    I might be in the minority but I think assuming health, this offense will look much better this year with longer drives which will also take pressure of the defense.

    If we assume our defense is even better by 1 or 2ppg over last year, I think this is a10 win team.

  18. shankasorous Says:

    “He claims Traskfield is so bad”

    Coming from USA Today, that means they’ll be great.

  19. dls5492 Says:

    Tanking doesn’t work. Let’s win, baby!

  20. Larrd Says:

    I would be pretty happy with the off-season and excited for the team’s chances if I thought Bowles is a good head coach. He makes blunders and doesn’t acknowledge them.

  21. ocala Says:

    The Bucs have most likely the worst starting QB, Left tackle and head coach in the NFL. That is usually not a formula that is going to turn into a winning season.

    The Bucs are underdogs in 13 of their 17 games in 2023 and the four games they are favorites to win is by a combined total of 3.5 points.

  22. Buc4evr Says:

    Bad QB, Bad HC, Poor pass rush, Poor O line, no running game, new offense. I agree with Schwartz, the Bucs will be in a total rebuild in 2024 and will be unlikely to find a franchise QB. Another lost decade…

  23. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    Losing Donnie ain’t a big deal I think the oline will be better this year with the additions

  24. Marine Buc Says:

    If the Bucs are wanting to win the NFC South they will need another legit running back.

    It doesn’t have to be Dalvin Cook. I would be happy with Kareem Hunt.

    With a top ten defense and a real running game the Bucs could have a decent year. Especially with the weak schedule we are playing.

  25. Joe Says:

    JTS is just an older version of JPP.


    JPP was good against the run. JTS is a borderline liability against the run.

  26. Steven007 Says:

    Joe in Michigan, I have taken to passing by Grover’s comments just like I do with all caps. Tommy. Just makes life easier. Took me a while, and I gave him a chance to offer something worth reading, but it’s simply never there.

  27. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Steven007: I pass the negative comments by sometimes, sometimes I’ll ask them a question about their gloom and doom posts.

  28. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe … ‘Without a pass rush, it’s doubtful to believe the Bucs can have a dominant defense they can ride to the playoffs in January.’

    Agree Joe, but it’s not just pass rush we need to improve on, it’s also our run defense. My preferred measuring stick for pass rush effectiveness isn’t just sacks. It’s also QB knockdowns & hurries because they all take a toll. IOW … PRESSURE.

    Pro Football Reference advanced stats gives an excellent rundown each year by player for ‘pressures’. Sadly, 2022 was an abomination. Just look at the last 5 years:

    o 2022: Pressures – 144 (top performers: JTS (22); White (22)
    o 2021: Pressures – 224 (top performers: Shaq (39); White (31); JTS (27); Suh (19)
    o 2020: Pressures – 193 (top Performers: Shaq (42); Suh (29); Gholston (29); JPP (22); White (20)
    o 2019: Pressures – 186 (top performers: Shaq (51); Suh (24); JPP (24); Vea (22)
    o 2018: Pressures – 122 (top performers: JPP (30); GMC (24); Nassib (21)

    So with the ‘talent’ that we supposedly had, we barely made it back to the days of Mike Smith (144 vs 122 pressures). It’s obvious that we missed Shaq BIG TIME in terms of the pressure he consistently brought. Problem IMO is that no one replaced Suh’s or JPP’s productivity in terms of pressures.

    We NEED several things to go right for our defense to hop back into the Top-10 this year. We NEED Shaq healthy & get back around 40 pressures. We NEED Vea and/or Gaines to put up Suh-like numbers (25-30 ballpark). We NEED White to blitz enough to contribute 25-30 pressures. But most importantly, we NEED our highly drafted youngsters as a GROUP (Kancey, JTS & Hall) to contribute in the neighborhood of 45-50 pressures. That SHOULD get us into the range of 200 total pressures (roughly 12 per game average) which is roughly what we averaged in the 2019-2021 period … our most successful years.

  29. SlyPirate Says:

    Joe, Can you start a record of who predicted what for the Bucs. That way, we can reference those who got it right/wrong in the future? Journalistic accountability would be amazing!

  30. Brandon Says:

    How do you fathom rebuilding a talented team with tons of young players? Bucs need a QB. And that’s it. There is tons of talent on the team. There is no rebuild.

  31. Pewter Power Says:

    I wish these idiots will stop talking about the Bucs honestly it’s getting ridiculous! The Bucs will go into full rebuild because they don’t have a quarterback? Dumb so dumb, this roster has too much talent. Everyone has holes in their roster but people want us to what have a pro-bowler at every position I guess

  32. garro Says:

    I have to believe it will be a tall order for the Bucs to remain relevent this season.
    There are so many changes and question marks besides just the QB situation.
    Pass rush is surely one.
    Jensen and a cobbled O-line. All five starters are question marks.
    Run game. New offense. Rashad and Vaughn are question marks. O-line?
    OLB…JTS, Ya Ya and Shaq are quesion marks.
    ILB…Will White even play? Dennis? Both question marks.
    D Line Hall and Kancey ae question marks.
    Slot corner is a question mark. We have only begun to answer this one.
    Add to that Canales play calling. Question mark. Can he utillize Evans Godwin and, dare I say Gage?
    Also the water boy sucked last year…can he step up his game?
    Go Bucs