Courting Fate

May 7th, 2024


The football gods have favored Tampa Bay’s side in one critical aspect.

While other teams scramble to replace injured starters under center, the Bucs have been blessed with improbable health at the game’s most important position.

Only nine quarterbacks started all 17 regular-season games last year — and Baker Mayfield was in that group. In 2022, only 10 quarterbacks started every game … Tom Brady was included in that entourage.

How fortunate have Buc quarterbacks been in avoiding significant health issues? Glad you asked.

Baker Mayfield took 75 combined sacks and hits last season.

The last time a Tampa Bay quarterback missed a game due to injury came way back in 2017, when Jameis Winston was out three games with a sprained shoulder. Winston and Ryan Fitzpatrick split time the following season, but only because of Winston’s 3-game suspension and erratic play.

That is a startling stretch of continuity under center in a league where 66 different quarterbacks started last year and 68 passers started in 2022.

Shoulder and ankle injuries have plagued Mayfield in recent years and his toughness is beyond question. Still, all it takes is one blown blocking assignment to throw Tampa Bay’s season into chaos.

By any measure, the backup options don’t look overly appealing.

Backup QB Kyle Trask can’t be counted to win more than he loses, writes Ira Kaufman.

Kyle Trask has thrown only 10 passes during his first two pro seasons, completing 3. John Wolford, who entered the league undrafted, has four starts in three seasons, completing 59 percent of his throws with one TD pass and five interceptions.

“This is a tough sport,” says Jacksonville coach Doug Pederson. “You see how many quarterbacks have gone down or at least out for a period of time. Having a guy that’s been around and played meaningful games in this league helps.”

Pederson should know.

In 2017, Nick Foles stepped in for injured Carson Wentz and helped the Pederson-led Eagles to a championship. Foles came into that season with 36 NFL starts.

When the Chiefs moved on this spring from Blaine Gabbert, who remains unsigned as a free agent, they replaced him with another experienced quarterback in Wentz to back up Patrick Mahomes.

“I don’t ever overlook that position and say, ‘OK, we’ve got our starter,'” Pederson says. “You can’t. When you do that, it’s going to bite you at some point and you’re not going to have a backup that’s ready.”

Teams with salary-cap concerns tend to look at the No. 2 quarterback position as an opportunity to save money. The prevailing wisdom: if your starting quarterback suffers a significant injury, you’re probably toast.

But what if your starter is sidelined for a month. Are you willing to go 1-3 with an inexperienced backup?

Wolford and Trask have combined to throw two TD passes at the NFL level. With the Rams in 2022, Wolford started three games for offensive coordinator Liam Coen, who will be calling the plays for the Bucs this fall. You would think Coen, who was hired on Feb. 5, endorsed the March 15 decision to re-sign Wolford on a one-year deal.

The Bucs appear to be courting fate after six consecutive years without a significant injury under center.

The depth chart behind Mayfield remains dicey. Perhaps Trask or Wolford could hold the fort for a while if Mayfield goes down, but that seems like wishful thinking at this point.

With the regular season only four months away, keeping Mayfield upright looms as Job 1 for the Bucs. He finished the season with impressive postseason performances against the Eagles and Lions, earning the confidence of Todd Bowles and his teammates.

Coen can’t wait to design new plays to enhance an offense which has struggled the past two seasons.

If you don’t hear much about Trask or Wolford this fall, that bodes well for the defending NFC South champions. Backup quarterbacks are meant to be heard, not seen.

The Bucs are seeking a fifth straight playoff berth and a seventh consecutive year of continuity under center. But what’s the backup plan?

Wing it, guys.

28 Responses to “Courting Fate”

  1. Joseph C Simmons Says:

    Aw man you said the quiet part out loud.

  2. Bucfan Says:

    Wouldn’t it be wise to play the back up guy on occasion, even in mop up or mop down occasions?

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    Joe … ‘The depth chart behind Mayfield remains dicey. Perhaps Trask or Wolford could hold the fort for a while if Mayfield goes down, but that seems like wishful thinking at this point.’

    You’re obviously right Joe that both Trask & Wolford have extremely limited starting experience, but as the old saying goes ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’. One or the other may absolutely light it up if given the opportunity to start. IMO it’s as much about the team surrounding the QB as it is about the QB himself. And the Bucs are building a pretty solid TEAM to support Baker or any of our other QB should he get injured. Stay positive, at least until the sky really does fall.

  4. SlyPirate Says:

    Bucfan Says:
    Wouldn’t it be wise to play the back up guy on occasion, even in mop up or mop down occasions?


    EXACTLY, If you’re worried your backup hasn’t had enough snaps, play your backup and get him experience. Football … Not Rocket Science.

  5. Lord Cornelius Says:

    I’m not really worried about the backup QB play at all. I’d rather give Trask a shot in that situation and see what we got than go with a Jacoby Brissett type guy.

    It’s not like most NFL teams have great backup QB’s, especially now in 2024. Like is Sam Darnold or Drew Lock or Nathan Peterman really upgrades over Trask?

    We may have a top 1/2 of the league backup situation because at least there is potential in Trask being more than what we already know about most those guys.

  6. geno711 Says:

    The biggest concern for me about keeping Mayfield upright is first year Bucs O-Line coach Kevin Carberry.

    He was the Rams OL coach in 2022. The Rams finished 30th out of 32 teams in the league in pressures allowed that season. They allowed pressures on over 26% of their drop backs. The Rams finished 5 and 12. Kevin Carberry was one of the coaches fired after that season. By the way, Liam Cohen was the OC that year.

    By comparison the Bucs allowed only 13% pressure rate that season.

  7. Fred McNeil Says:

    Geno, I didn’t know that. Food for thought, huh. I still think we will be at least slightly better than last year though.

  8. Defense Rules Says:

    Geno711 … Carberry might be getting blamed for things far beyond his control. When the Rams won the 2021 SB, their OLine was a real strength. Very consistent & stable; Havenstein, Whitworth, Edwards, Corbett & Allen got almost all of the snaps.

    But their 2022 OLine was a model of disarray. Whitworth retired after 2021 season; Edwards only played in 4 games in 2022 (then moved on to the Bills); Corbett left after 2021 & signed with the Panthers; Allen only played in 7 games in 2022 & 5 games in 2023 (then moved on to the Browns). Only Rob Havenstein seems to have hung in there consistently as a starter since 2021.

    Bucs’ fans are surely more familiar than most with the impact of OLine turbulence on offensive production.

  9. 1sparkybuc Says:

    Rumor has it that Tom Brady was actually a backup QB at one time.

  10. Hodad Says:

    Nothing new, most teams are done when their starting QB goes down.

  11. WilieG Says:

    Make sure Tom Brady has a playbook and a handshake deal to return if the Bucs are in contention and lose Mayfield in November.

  12. Show Me the TDs Says:

    Sparky & Hodad, my thoughts, exactly!

  13. BucsFanSince1996 Says:

    If our running game improves to become at least average and our defense plays great I believe that Wolford or Trask can come in and win some games for us if necessary. Hopefully, it never becomes necessary.

    Given that the QB position is the most important position in football and there’s been so many QB injuries in recent years, I don’t believe it was a mistake for Atlanta drafting Penix #8 this year. Most seemed shocked at that after paying Cousins a truckload of money, but if Cousins goes down with an injury at some point the move won’t look so stupid. NFL analysts and fans understand the importance of depth for a team to go deep into the playoffs. It seems logical to me that one would want a backup QB capable of winning playoff games if needed.

  14. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Trask will play just fine if called upon for a limited number of games.
    The improved OLine and RB roster will help.
    All NFL teams are up the spout if their starting QB goes down – the days of Joe Montana/Steve Young, Earl Morrall/ John Unitas or Roger Staubach/ Danny White are pretty much over unless you want to include Russell Wilson/Justin Fields or Dak Prescott/ Trey Lance

  15. BA’s Red Pen Says:

    And here we go with the yearly handwringing about the Backup Quarterback. Calm down over there Sage.

  16. Crickett Baker Says:

    Ira, I hope you knocked on wood several times while writing that article!

  17. Cobraboy Says:

    How many teams have two starters on their roster? I suspect that is a low number, and even then some other position group suffers.

  18. Beeej Says:

    Trask never got any snaps because we were never in any blowouts

  19. unbelievable Says:

    Well if the Bucs are courting fate with their plan, then Ira is how right tempting fate with this article!

    Cmon Ira, you know better than to put out bad omens like this!

  20. unbelievable Says:

    *down right tempting fate

    (Stupid autocorrect)

  21. Pickgrin Says:

    “Kyle Trask has thrown only 10 passes during his first two pro seasons”

    Trask is entering his 4th year in the NFL with the Buccaneers. And its 9 passes – not 10 – in his first THREE pro seasons. 3 completions in 9 attempts for 23 yards in 3 seasons to be exact.

    I wonder how many other previous NFL players (if any?) drafted in the 2nd round played less than 10 snaps in their first 3 seasons??

    That said – Trask showed up last year during Training Camp and pre-season. Showed that he belongs in this league and just might be a decent NFL QB if surrounded by a good supporting cast and given some actual playing time…. WITH the starters – LOL

    It will be interesting to see what happens with Kyle next year (2025) if he again looks solid to good leading up to the regular season but gets few or no live game snaps in 2024.

    Would Trask even consider re-signing with the Bucs as a confirmed back up?

    Would any other NFL teams want to sign Kyle to a decent contract coming into his 5th year with no live playing experience?

    How do you even assess Kyle’s value when it comes to a new contract if he’s only played 9 snaps in 4 years? Higher end back up QBs make $8-10M+ per year. Lower end back up QBs make less than $2M. Thats a big spread when you can’t prove on tape where a guy falls within that spectrum….

    Interesting situation with Trask – caused mainly by the durability of Brady and Mayfield.

  22. KABucs Says:

    I’m sure the 49ers were in what they thought was a pretty dicey situation when their quarterbacks kept getting injured. Now Brock Purdy, who was never really expected to be a starter in the league, is a pretty solid starter for a team that went to the SB last season. Sometimes the guy on the bench can surprise you. You never know until you give him a shot. Not every team can have a prettty good backup to a really good starter. Most teams have a guy with a pretty iffy qb history, their getting long in the tooth or they are totally green with potential as their backup and third stringer.

  23. Rod Munch Says:

    Last year only 9 QBs started all 17 games.

    And Baker was LAST in scoring, and LAST in yards among those.

  24. Daniel Hammond Says:

    I still believe in Trask and Wolford if something happens

  25. kaimaru Says:

    @Lord Cornelius


  26. 74 Bucs Fan Says:

    Sage, you really should type “knock on wood” anywhere in there. Vibes man, vibes.

  27. Dadgumit Says:

    With an 18 game season on the horizon, better make quick to the depth of the “goto” buc pack.

  28. garro Says:

    I am sure the brain trust of Bucville is aware Ira. Mr Licht is no dummy. We were lucky last year that
    A) Baker is a pretty tough dude
    B) That he only had a minor injury

    I say this because he did take some hits in the passing game and we need to do a better job in pass pro. Baker needs to improve on getting the ball out in a timely manner as well.

    Now the Elephant in the room. Trask has enough talent to win. So does Wolford. If you did not see it from both of these guys that is on you. We should get a deal done with Trask if we can. Wolford too. The time to do this is now. Not when we have our backs against the wall.

    I agree that we need to get one or both some legit snaps. I find it absurd that we have not done this with Trask already. A series or two with the ones would at least be something.

    Winning QBs do not grow on trees. We have seen what losing QBs look like.
    Freeman, McCown, Fitzpatrick, Glennon, Winston. Poor decision making. Poor skills.Inconsistent play or all of the above.

    Go Bucs