The Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked off their 2023 voluntary offseason program on Monday, which could be considered Day One in the competition to win the team's starting quarterback job, even if it will be weeks before any real passes are thrown. For third-year man Kyle Trask, who will be battling veteran acquisition Baker Mayfield for that coveted role, it was time to mute the outside noise and hone in on a football routine.
"[It's about] being as consistent as I can," said Trask. "I guarantee you the job won't be won if I'm thinking about outside things and different types of narratives. That's not going to translate to success on the football field. I need to narrow my focus and do my best to put the team in the most successful position possible. And at the end of the day, just have fun and lift the ones around you, because I think when you do that it ties the whole thing together and everybody plays better."
While Mayfield has thrown for over 16,000 yards and 100 touchdowns in his five years in the league, Trask has tossed a total of nine regular-season passes, all in the fourth quarter of a low stakes game in Atlanta at the end of last season. However, the 2021 second-round pick out of Florida also spent the last two years in a veteran-heavy quarterback room led by Tom Brady. That has helped him build the aforementioned routine, which he continues to work on in order to make the most of his first chance to win the starting job.
"This is a good opportunity for me, and a great opportunity for me to compete with someone like Baker, whose definitely proven himself in this league," said Trask. "So it will be very fun to get to know him and compete with him every day. For me, I always try to be as consistent as I can. I'm always trying to build my routine, square it away as tight as I can. So it's just very important for me to really lock that in at a time like now and try to make myself as productive as possible to help this team in the end and hopefully help the overall success of this team."
While Trask has a more intimate feel for the culture at Bucs headquarters and Mayfield has the advantage of more NFL experience, both quarterbacks are starting on page one of the team's offensive playbook. That's because the Bucs have a new offensive coordinator in Dave Canales, who will be installing a scheme similar to the one in Seattle that helped former journeyman passer Geno Smith surprisingly emerge as one of the NFL's most productive quarterbacks last year. Canales essentially just laid out the basic philosophies of that offense on Monday, but Trask can already tell he's going to like it.
"I'm very, very excited about this new offense," said Trask. "I'm loving every part of it so far, and if you look back to what they were able to do in Seattle last year, it's a very quarterback-friendly offense. They do a great job of tying the run and the pass game together, putting themselves in the best position possible. I think that's going to be very good for the people in this building. I noticed this morning, it's going to be a very young team, a lot of new faces, so it's going to be very important for us to have, not necessarily a simpler system, but a system that allows us to play fast and play confidently."
When the Buccaneers announced their signing of Mayfield on March 16, General Manager Jason Licht noted that it was going to set up the first "legit QB competition" the Buccaneers have had in a training camp since his own arrival in 2014. Trask said he has been told the same thing in a conversation with Head Coach Todd Bowles. Trask's approach to that opportunity is to strive to be as consistent as he can be on a day-to-day basis.
"I've just been told it's an open competition, but at the end of the day I know that the team's going to do what they have to do to put whoever on the field that's going to allow our team to be the most successful," he said. "For me, I feel this time I just really need to hone in and be as consistent as I can. At the end of the day, I'm just trying to do whatever I can to make this team succeed. Fortunately enough, I've had two years of prior experience with a very veteran quarterback room, and there's a lot to take away from that. I'm going to try to implement some of those styles and routines that they had into my routine, and hopefully that will make us more successful at the end of the day."