The Margin For Error

August 7th, 2023

Todd Bowles

So by Joe’s unofficial count, Baker Mayfield has thrown seven interceptions in the last nine practices. Kyle Trask is on a six-practice streak of no interceptions.

How much of a learning curve does Bucs coach Todd Bowles give his quarterbacks? For example, in baseball spring training games, it is not unusual for a pitcher to work on a new pitch and team officials expect mistakes, or at least give the pitcher some rope.

Likewise, a hitter may only swing at breaking pitches to improve his stroke there. Again, team officials are aware and give the guy some slack.

With both Mayfield and Trask learning a new offense, Joe asked Bowles what kind of margin for error does he allow quarterbacks in practice and preseason when it comes to turnovers?

“You always have margin for error. No matter what you’re learning, you don’t want to turn the ball over,” Bowles said.

“You’re going to learn certain things because we’re not going against each other from an install standpoint, so the defense will have some things on certain days and the offense will have some things on certain days.

“But, 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.”

So, advantage Trask?

Joe still maintains unless Trask practices and plays in the controlled scrimmages next week in New Jersey and in the worthless preseason games so well he cannot be taken off the field, Bowles will go with Mayfield and his experience because Bowles needs wins to save his job.

Trask is practicing better than Mayfield. Not by much, but he is. Trask must be able to pull away to lock up this quarterback battle.

Yeah, Bowles has said he’s wants the quarterback who turns the ball over the least.

You know what else Bowles values? Employment.

57 Responses to “The Margin For Error”

  1. George Says:

    Joe you are right and wrong. Bowles does need to win. That’s the reason he is going to go with Trask. Yes Baker has experience, but he turns the ball over. That is a recipe for loosing. Bowels believes in his D fence. Don’t turn the ball over and his D will win the game. Trask is your pick.

  2. Steelers fan Says:

    If Bowles values Employment then he shouldnt of bring in the guy with the most INT’s since hes been in the league. His A$$ is getting fired forsure if he hitches his wagon to Baker.

  3. ATLBuc Says:

    I can’t believe an NFL coach would rely on Mayfield to save his job. I think the Glaziers will give Bowles more slack if he were developing a drafted player rather than deciding to go with a proven turnover machine, despite Trask having played better in training camp.

  4. ATLBuc Says:

    Trask is a proven gunslinger who put almost a thousand yards and nine TDS on Georgia and Alabama. The more he plays and gets accustomed to the speed of the game the better he will get.

  5. Beej Says:

    Trask is a proven gunslinger in COLLEGE. Up until a couple weeks ago, he showed no inclination of being able to do that in the pros. I’m NOW optimistic about the guy, would be by FAR the best thing for the team if he can even perform at Ryan Tannehill levels

  6. John Sinclear Says:

    You keep saying “worthless pre-season games”. A QB’s job is at stake in those games – are they “worthless” to the QB’s trying to get the #1 job? Same applies to several other open positions. You may not like them, that’s your privilege, but to a lot of folks they are absolutely NOT “worthless”.
    One Joe finds them “worthless.” Fair point. Heck, the Bucs won a Super Bowl without preseason, and the college game has no preseason. The other Joe finds the games about 8 times more interesting than a practice in pads, and the real competition is, well, competition. Also, history shows that quality undrafted players like Earnest Graham and Adam Humphries made the Bucs only because of preseason.–Joe

  7. Mike Alstott Jr. Says:

    Not understanding the logic of Baker saving Hot Toddy’s job. If anything I would think the GM/Owner would give him more rope with their 2nd round development pick… Where if Baker is chosen and stinks it up it could be easier to flush him and Bowels in favor of Trask – Canales experiment for until the end of the season…

  8. Scott Says:

    I think Bowles is safe as long as the defense is good

  9. Mike Alstott Jr. Says:

    woof sorry for the typos in my last comment, it’s hard to compose thoughts on the phone sometimes!

  10. Steelers fan Says:

    I remember a guy that showed no inclination of being able to do anything in the pros until he did after sitting behind Brett Farve… Aaron Rodgers, people said the EXACT same things!!!!!

  11. Canabuc Says:

    My hunch is they start with Baker given his experience but with a short leash. If they don’t get out to a 500 start or if he continues to turn it over and have passed batted down then Trask comes in after the bye both as evaluation before next year and as excuse to save Bowles career

    If Trask does well great for team. If he flounders Bowles has excuse and they now get high pick for future franchise QB.

    If Trask starts and team does poorly all the so called experts would say he should have started Baker the veteran and the blame would lay on the coach.

  12. Pewter Power Says:

    Practice doesn’t matter. Can’t wait until the preseason game to see how well he throws after taking a shot.

  13. TampaBayBucsFanSince1976 Says:

    Baker has small hands disease and Trask does not. Large hand QB’s on average stat better and fumble less than small hand QB’s. Trask standing next to Mayfield it becomes obvious Trask is substantially taller and more sculpted. Trask can see the field better and I believe will be more durable. Watch closely which QB is willing to take a shot to get the hard yards or complete a pass with a defender bearing down on them , this will be a big difference.

  14. Buc4evr Says:

    I read that Mayfield has fumbled three snaps. Can’t be good. He may have more experience than Trask, but it looks like all his experience is the bad kind and he doesn’t seem to improve. He is who he is and I don’t expect him to magically change when things get real. He is still going to take I’ll advised chances that result in turnovers. Remind you of anybody?

  15. Craig Says:

    Trask still needs to progress in the scheme some. His long balls are too strong because of his new mechanics and arm strength.

    If he can get above 50% on those he would be close to unstoppable for the starter.

    Even if the rate is lower, it is still an easier fix that how Baker is playing himself out of the starter position. If 8 HCs and 6 OCs haven’t gotten through to him, it will not happen here.

    He has regressed since his second year, and may flash at times, but still is not great at sustaining drives.

    Trask looks like he can be good at sustaining drives and eating clock time. That too is important in Hot Toddie’s scheme.

  16. Dew Says:

    Trask = Brad Johnson = Super Bowl

  17. nooyoker Says:

    Bowles: “You always have margin for error. No matter what you’re learning, you don’t want to turn the ball over.”

    Bowles is talking out of both sides of his mouth. He says you gotta give rope to the guy who was anointed the starting savior, then says you can’t turn the ball over, which the anointed starting savior has always done. Huh?

  18. DJB Says:


    I noticed how Trask towers over Shorty too. No way that I buy Mayfield is 6′ 1″.

  19. nooyoker Says:

    “experience” … Jameis had lots of experience, too, no?

  20. Allen Lofton Says:

    When Jameis Winston threw an interception on this last play of the game as a Buc – AB’s facial expression said it all. Jameis had just played his last play as a Buc.

    I think this will play out again in coach Bowles head if Mayfield keeps throwing interceptions. The preseason games will tell us everything.

  21. Dwayne Cone Says:

    Craig Says: If he can get above 50% on those he would be close to unstoppable for the starter.

    In 2022 top 10 passers of balls that traveled 20 plus yards were #1 Geno Smith 24 of 51 w/ 13 TD and 2 INT and #10 Josh Allen 29 of 75 w/ 10 TD and 5 INT. There was a difficulty factor built it.

    If any QB finishes in the middle @ #5 he is in good company. Justin Herbert finished just outside the top 10.

    As long as any deep throw/overthrow has a Bucs receiver closest to the goal line and the tradition of taking a shot near the end of the half continues I am good with intermediate routes w/ YAC and throwing deep less than Geno’s Average of 3 a game.

    Although if Evans gets single coverage in the words of D Bledsoe ‘just sling it’

  22. Thisisouryear!! Says:

    If I’m the owner I like the old saying the best way to lose your job is trying to save it. In my opinion if you see something there with Trask and he is consistently getting better you have to go with him. If mayfield does something you really like better than trask then its coaches call. If Trask is solid and not turning over the ball, I think you give the kid a chance.

  23. Buc4evr Says:

    Small hands = fumbles, small stature = knock downs, small mind = interceptions. The guy checks all the boxes. Good luck Bowles if you really believe that there is any room for a margin of error.

  24. nooyoker Says:

    Pewter Power Says: “Practice doesn’t matter. Can’t wait until the preseason game to see how well he throws after taking a shot.”

    Who? Trask? He didn’t take shots in his two seasons in the SEC? LMAO

  25. Wild Bill Says:

    Trask has earned an equal amount of preseason game time with the starters. If both qbs get an equal chance with the ones, then the better qb should be the starter when the real season begins. Clearly, Baker has not been impressive so far, especially considering his experience in regulation games. However, Baker has a mostly poor history with previous teams. Just don’t see him being any better now with the Bucs. Trask should have more upside potential and would likely improve with more game time experience. Baker’s history shows little likelyhood of high performance with the Bucs. The Bucs made a big mistake in not grooming Trask at all in his first 2 years. If they bench Trask in favor of Baker even if Task performs better in the three preseason games, there will be a huge controversy, and whoever mandates Baker starting could get fired. If Trask continues to out shine Baker, naming the season starter will cause a lot of hand wringing by Bucs management and coaches! Personally, I hope Trask continues to show better than Baker! Then watch team ownership and managers squirm over who starts game 1. NFL tradition would favor starting the veteran player. I don’t think the head coach will make the decision by himself. This could be a tough call for the whole organization! And if the qb chosen to start is a bust, well it could get ugly fast!

  26. Mike S Says:

    Joe doesn’t think Trask can win games?


    Also, I want to throw this out there – I was watching the HOF game and that kid from UCLA came in and impressed. Collinsworth said something along the lines of there’s more than one way to be a QB and the contemporary NFL has expanded the definition of what a good QB looks like essentially implying that QB mobility is valued higher than ever and is considered a requirement.

    Being a football purist, I openly reject this notion. A QB is a passer of the football first and foremost. Here’s the primary point though – placing a mobility expectation on QBs is a wage suppression move. It’s not a secret that mobile QBs have shortened careers. This is for two reasons.

    1 – A mobile QB makes up for the passer skill gap by leveraging athleticism. That electric athleticism wanes after 30 years old (many times earlier). When they no longer have that “invisible juice” they become very ordinary. Either they transition to being a drop back QB or they get shown the exit.

    2 – Mobile QBs get hurt much like RBs. It’s a roulette wheel. It’s not a question of if but a matter of when they are going to take the shot that puts them on the sideline. Also, the psychology of injury is a factor too. The starch goes out of a player’s game if the notion of injury starts creeping in. Lots of guys retire from football when they start fearing contact. They know it’s time to hang them up. Pat McAfee for example – and he was a 6’3″ punter – especially if they know they can make similar money after retirement. There is no shame in that. It’s a violent sport and an achievement to get on and stay on the field for any period of time.

    Anything that shortens longevity is going to put down pressure on salary in the NFL. A QB that is done by 30 isn’t going to cash in on additional contracts. It turns the QB position into something similar to the RB position – you cash in 2-3 years on a guy and replace. The complexity of the passing game is diminished. No records will ever be challenged. Bad for the game and bad for QB’s wallets – but good for owners looking to save money on players’ salary.

  27. mike anthony Says:

    >> “If Bowles values Employment then he shouldnt of bring in the guy with the most INT’s since hes been in the league”

    Sigh sports fans are like echo chambers when they hear something . Baker has his issues and who knows maybe he is forever trash after his injury but I am tired of reading and hearing this stuff about leading the league in interceptions like its some great intelligent point.

    Josh Allen has 4 less picks OVER 5 YEARs – NOT PER YEAR – but from 2018 TOTAL…and drum roll…Tom Brady ..threw 2 less picks PER YEAR since 2018. SO ladies and gentlemen we are talking about DECIMAL differences per game.

    What makes Baker suck compared to Tom Brady IS NOT interceptions its between interceptions. TD to int ratios , successful drives ratio to drives ending in punts, 3rd down conversions and maybe even yards per completion

    All those make better arguments than – he leads the league in interceptions. Among QBs that regularly start there will ALWAYS be among them one who leads the league in ints because bench guys and those who flake out of the league Can’t throw interception on the sideline that count.

  28. WyomingJoe Says:

    SMALL HANDS? Please drop all this BS about Bsker’s small hands. Joe Borrow, one of the best NFL QBs today, has size 9 hands. Tom Brady’s hand size was 9.375 for god’s sake. Baker’s hand sizes were 9.25 at the combine and 9.58 at the Brown’s facility when he visited before the draft. Why don’t all you Baker Haters complain about the cereal he eats in the morning or the color of his shoelaces. Give it up already, lol. I’m new to the Bucs, but I sense that all of you Baker Haters will instantly become Trask Haters if he starts and does poorly. Stop being so pathetic. Go Bucs.

  29. nooyoker Says:

    mike anthony Says: “What makes Baker suck compared to Tom Brady IS NOT interceptions”

    Yes, it is. Among active NFL quarterbacks, Mayfield’s interception percentage is exactly DOUBLE that of the league leader.

  30. bucsfaninOregon Says:

    Hey Wyoming, you are posting to mostly Florida residents. If they have some tie to FSU or UF they usually (always?) will be homers for their alumni.

  31. Jack Clark Says:

    The margin of error is large for Baker Mayfield’s sorry as

  32. mike anthony Says:

    >> I’m new to the Bucs, but I sense that all of you Baker Haters will instantly become Trask Haters

    lol…new myself but I don’t think so. I think they will just shift to another criteria. You can see it already. Last couple practices haven’t seen many ints from Bajer so they are now beginning to move to a non existent issue with Baker and snaps as if its ever been a big issue in his career.

  33. D-Rome Says:

    Heck, the Bucs won a Super Bowl without preseason

    Exactly! The Bucs managed to put together a preseason roster, including bubble guys, without preseason games. They are worthless. Everything they need to know about a player they can see in practice.

    Fans have short memories.

  34. mike anthony Says:

    >>> Yes, it is. Among active NFL quarterbacks, Mayfield’s interception percentage is exactly DOUBLE that of the league leader

    Bull…because once again you are using selective stats to suit yourself and trying to fudge out of context.

    The data I see for Bakerr is 2.8

    Josh allen 2.3

    Stafford 2.2

    Tom brady 1.6

    How the hades can anyone claim to be an intelligent person not do basic maths and understand these fractional differences are not what loses games?

  35. Beej Says:

    I expect any qb on a losing team is always gonna throw more picks, because they’re ALWAYS behind, throwing into nickel coverages trying to come back, without the luxury of running the ball and mixing it up

  36. Hodad Says:

    Think fans are suffering from some covid memory loss. The games without preseason, and limited practices during covid were horrible in the beginning, how quick we forget. Even the Bucs who won the S.B. had a sucky start. It wasn’t till after the bye the Bucs started playing good football along with the rest of the league. Practice games matter. I don’t think Wirfs wants his first snap at LT to be in a real game. I think he’d tell you he needs to see it real one time first. Preseason is worthless to teams like K.C., like us with Brady, not anymore. This Buc team needs these worthless games.

  37. mike anthony Says:

    And for bonus credit ( because trask fans boys sure do need it ) explain how many games you have seen lost because a QB threw one pick

    because since 20 years ago following the NFl I’ve seen ZERO where it wasn’t the lack of moving the ball on the other drive not a single pick that lost a game. Why does he number one matter? Check your stat list

    64 Pick by Baker
    72 games played by Baker

    .88 picks per game

    Should have stayed away from stats argument with ints – its how you got spanked.

  38. nooyoker Says:

    “Heck, the Bucs won a Super Bowl without preseason”

    That was 2020, when the NFL canceled the preseason due to COVID.

    No other NFL team had a preseason either.

  39. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    “Trask is practicing better than Mayfield. Not by much, but he is.”

    Not by much??? No picks vs lots of picks.

    That’s a lot, Joe.

  40. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    mike anthony Says
    “And for bonus credit ( because trask fans boys sure do need it ) explain how many games you have seen lost because a QB threw one pick”

    Do you mean only one pick? Or any picks?

    Because we lost a lot of games due to Winston.

    But so far as Mayfield…those stats should include fumbles.

    See? Stats matter.

  41. Jeff’s grandpa Says:

    Gaytor bois out in full force today

  42. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:


    Not going to look it up…but I think maybe we didn’t win an actual preseason game in 2002.

    But…I think the Colts may have done it also. No preseason wins, but won a superbowl?

    I may have the teams confused, but I remember doing the research a few years ago. There were 2-3 teams that did it.

  43. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Jeff’s grandpa Says
    “Gaytor bois out in full force today”

    Maybe. I’m not one of them. I don’t care about college ball at all.

    But I am certainly a Traskmaster at present.

  44. Wild Bill Says:

    So in a way I hope Baker starts the regular season ( assuming he doesn’t complete a lot of passes to the opposing Team , which seems to be his habit. If Baker shines than so be it. Ride that horse to the end. But if Baker bombs ( got a ring to it eh?) then bench his short chubby ass and put the younger, stronger, taller, physically fitter Trask as the starter and find out if he is the qb of the future, or if the Bucs have to trade Mike Evans and two other starters for the number one draft choice next year. Just joking. Kinda sorta.

  45. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Dew Says
    “Trask = Brad Johnson = Super Bowl”

    I see your point, but I question whether that is possible these days. Even if it is?

    Trask = Brad Johnson = 1 Super Bowl

    If we want more than one Superbowl going forward, he has to be better than Brad Johnson.

    Although? It’s entirely possible that Brad Johnson in his prime would be much better these days.

    I hope Trask is more like a Carson Palmer in his prime.

  46. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Wild Bill Says
    “So in a way I hope Baker starts the regular season”

    Truthfully, I hope the same.

    – Bowles would bury himself with that decision.
    – Let Baker deal with an offensive line that is not ready

  47. Steelers fan Says:

    When youve led the league in INT’s and you come to a new team to “revive” your career.

    The coaches tell you the most important thing is not to throw picks ( The whole time speaking directly to BAKER).

    And you come out and throw pick after pick. Thats where the problem is.

    Baker knows he HAS to stop throwing picks but he CANT its in his DNA just like the “moxie” is in his DNA…lol

  48. HC Grover Says:

    Trask is better choice. Naturally Bowles will go with Mafieild.

  49. mike anthony Says:

    >> But so far as Mayfield…those stats should include fumbles.

    >>> See? Stats matter.

    NO ignorance persists and eats away grey matter – when it based on fan boy emotion (for trask).

    Baker isn’t t at the top of the list of fumbles and is way down on the list for lost ones. Got anything else? Even Milk?

    See? Stats matter with how badly you end up getting spanked when you make arguments from the wrong ones.

    I guess according to you guys Josh allen was/is a scrub? He’s top three on since 2018 in both of the criteria you been begging for.

  50. mike anthony Says:

    >> Do you mean only one pick? Or any picks?

    I am from Florida . I know people can read down there. Stop misrepresenting our abilities. I presented very clear one pick because Bake averages less than one per game by the very stats you guys tried to use.

  51. nooyoker Says:

    Jeff’s grandpa Says: “Gaytor bois out in full force today”

    Grandson Jeff wasn’t accepted at Florida?

  52. nooyoker Says:

    A veteran quarterback should have LESS margin for error than a quarterback who essentially has never played a regular season game. And yet here Bowles invokes the margin for error for the veteran throwing MORE picks. Up is down, I guess.

  53. Steelers fan Says:

    I dunno how Josh Allen makes your point for you. He’s a physical freak I’ll take my chances with Allen and swallow hard on the picks just coz of the fact he can win a game in so many ways with is physical attributes unlike Baker.

    Baker is the anti Allen when it comes to physical attributes.

    And btw Allen cant get over the hump due to turning the ball over in big games.

  54. mike anthony Says:

    >>I dunno how Josh Allen makes your point for you. He’s a physical freak

    Which means what? Think and you might be able to process better . obviously you are saying that ints and fumbles are insufficient by themselves as a metric to evaluate a QB and that a higher int count by itself is not THE determinant of Allen being good or bad.

    Thats the point. That the incessant narrative that Baker is automatically bad based on just barfing – he leads the league in ints – is asinine. The very fact that if Baker were to retire now it would be ALLen that would automatically be bad because he would then lead the league for ints among active starters should wake the brain cells up –

    IF you still can’t process thats not my fault but on your own abilities to process.

    I don’t know how long some of you have been following the NFL but .88 ints per game never lost a game played in the league. Like I said when the numbers are that low its always due to what happened between ints.

    Your boy trask could throw low low ints and be out of the league in two years – because punts are the more common form of turnovers and the reason for most losses. when he shows he can move a team down the field and scpre with defensive players that feel free to try and knock his head off then you can coo. When he can brin a team back in an a nfl game when his team is down – then and only then will he demonstrably be a better QB than Baker . ALl this mostly no contact soft practice near flag football practice conclusions is dumb and thankfully Bowles knows better why he says he’s most interested in what the play is like going into preseason games.

  55. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Sounds like people are figuring out ole Bake is polarizaring. Gunslinger like Favre, lots of splash plays and lots of Interceptions

  56. Buckeyebuckchuck Says:

    Preseason is where the job will be won. Right now they can sit in the pocket forever and not get smashed. I expect Mayfield to win the job due to splash play/ turnover ratio. But, this is doing Trask a world of good. Sitting him behind Gabbert was flat out stupid. He was a R2 pick, not some late rounder, yoi know? Best case scenario they come out of this with 2 good QBs

  57. DJB Says:

    Wyoming Joe: Right – And since joining the Bucs, his hand size is now 12″ hahaha