Baker Mayfield and Buccaneers May Abandon Ship

Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Bucs (Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports)
Rachaad White, Tampa Bay Bucs (Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports) /

How can a team with players like Lavonte David, Mike Evans, and Tristan Wirfs be on the clock?

Well, it depends on whether you believe in Tampa Bay’s quarterbacks. The depth chart is light, with Baker Mayfield leading Kyle Trask and John Wolford.

Since 2010, there have been nine teams that have thrown for less than 3,000 yards in a season. Four of those nine earned the number one overall draft pick for the next season.

Lowest Yards Passing- Since 2010:

2,510- 2011- Jacksonville Jaguars(5-11)Pick #7

2,598- 2022- Chicago Bears(3-14)Pick #1

2,635- 2010- Carolina Panthers(2-14)Pick #1

2,884- 2018- Arizona Cardinals(3-13)Pick #1

2,927- 2022- Atlanta Falcons(7-10)Pick #8

2,931- 2015- St. Louis Rams(7-9)Pick #15

2,935- 2012- Minnesota Vikings(10-6)Pick #23

2,937- 2012- Kansas City Chiefs(2-14)Pick #1

2,979- 2020- Baltimore Ravens(11-5)Pick #27

Minnesota avoided a bad season because of a 2,000-yard season from Adrian Peterson, while Lamar Jackson had a 1,000-yard rushing season.

What does this have to do with Tampa Bay?

It revolves around Baker Mayfield’s projections. Last year, he threw for 1,313 yards in Carolina, which comes out to 187 yards per game. While he looked better in Los Angeles with the Rams, he only threw for 170 yards per game. If we try to put a positive spin on this, you can take 187 yards times 17, and you come out with 3179 yards for the season, not much past the 3,000-yard threshold. Add the fact that it will probably rain in Tampa Bay from time to time, you can see some bad weather games where he doesn’t even reach that.

So you need playmakers to make up for this. The worst team in this regard since 2000 was the Cincinnati Bengals, who had Corey Dillon, but were quarterbacked by Akili Smith and Scott Mitchell, who combined led them to a 4-12 record. Dillon could not make up for the fact that they only threw for 2,219 yards, plus lost 273 more on sacks, leaving them with a sad 1946 total for the season.

Rachaad White, Chase Edmonds, and Keshawn Vaughn don’t seem like 1,000-yard backs. White rushed for 481 rushing yards in 2022 but he did so while averaging 3.7 yards per carry. It is hard to imagine him getting a workload to reach that threshold while averaging 3.7 yards per carry.

It is fair to say that as much talent is on the defense, their numbers will probably look worse because of bad field position and turnovers. Mayfield’s biggest drawback is that he has way too many turnovers in his career, with 64 interceptions and 36 fumbles. Only in his rookie year, in which he threw for 27 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, and the peak year in 2020, when he went 26 touchdowns and 8 interceptions, has he had splits that were much over 1/1.

The best-case scenario is that we get the 2020 version of Mayfield, which renders this article moot. Worst case scenario is that the offense looks like the expansion Buccaneers for 1976, which were so bad, that they went winless at 0-14. A referendum on that offense is that none of the 4 quarterbacks (Steve Spurrier, Parnell Dickinson, Terry Hanratty, Larry Lawrence) ever took another snap in the league after that season.

If you believe that the passing game is the key to winning, the Buccaneers may be closer to the first pick in the draft than the 32nd.