Buccaneers vs. Steelers: Quarterback Outlook


Heading into the Buccaneers preseason opener against the Steelers, all eyes were on the head-to-head battle for the starting signal-caller duties in Tampa Bay between Baker Mayfield and Kyle Trask. Performances during the preliminary slate will weigh heavily on the final decision-making process by the Bucs’ brass. 

On Friday evening at Raymond James, it was Baker Mayfield’s turn to start the game, with Kyle Trask receiving the starting opportunity against the Jets in New Jersey. Mayfield, the vested veteran, concluded the matchup completing eight-of-nine passes for 63 yards and a touchdown for a 132.9 quarterback rating. He orchestrated a nine-play, 59-yard scoring drive that culminated in a Trey Palmer touchdown. Mayfield heaved the ball into the back corner of the end zone, just out of reach for Steelers’ defensive back James Pierre and into the eager hands of Palmer. That was the Bucs’ lone touchdown of the day until the final two minutes of the contest. 

“It felt good,” Mayfield commented on his first start as a Buccaneer. “Obviously, there are a lot of things to clean up offensively. [We were] sloppy with a few illegal formation penalties and just the little stuff, getting lined up right…operationally, we need to be a lot more clean on the offensive line.” 

In regard to personal growth, Mayfield is focused on taking command of the offense and taking care of the football. 

“I mentioned getting us in better position on the run game stuff but just having advantageous looks and taking advantage of those,” Mayfield responded. “I think for me, just continue the operation and be in command of the offense. I took care of the ball and did not put it in jeopardy so just continuing to grow in that area.” 

Mayfield, 28, has the clear edge in experience, having passed for 16,288 yards and 102 touchdowns in six NFL seasons with the Browns, Panthers and Rams. In contrast, Trask, 25, had only previously been active for two games over a span of two seasons, appearing in the regular-season finale at Atlanta last season, where he completed three-of-nine passes for 23 yards. Over the course of the offseason workout program, Trask has continued to build confidence, resulting in poise in the pocket. 

On Friday in the 27-17 loss to the Steelers, he came into the game during the second quarter. Trask finished the preseason debut completing six-of-10 passes for 99 yards and an interception for a 53.8 quarterback rating. He had several momentum-building plays, including a 23-yard dart to David Moore. However, penalties and repeated miscues put the Bucs behind the chains. Trask was sacked three times and will look to bounce back against an ascending NFL franchise. 

“Obviously there were mistakes made,” Trask remarked. “We just have to clean those things up and move forward…going to New York next week to play a team that has a lot of buzz so we will see how we stack up.” 

In moving from one play to the next, players have to have a short memory, not letting a previous negative play impact the upcoming ones. In a similar fashion, next week is another chance for Trask to showcase what made him a second-round selection. Against a Jets’ defense on the rise, Trask will vie to prove his worth in the club’s second preseason meeting. 

“The last two preseason games I have felt very nervous for lack of a better word and this year, I have felt very confident in my ability,” Trask stated. “I feel like my body and my arm strength felt better…I had good plays and bad plays but a lot of good learning experiences.”



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