Buccaneers are on the verge of massive offseason mistake

Blaine Gabbert, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Blaine Gabbert, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images) /

As the Blaine Gabbert talks heat up, Buccaneers fans can only look away and hope the car doesn’t crash while they are in it.

Have you ever been in denial about needing stitches? You can see the cut is deep. The blood is gushing out faster than the towels can keep up with, but you still tell yourself that you may not need the trip to the emergency room.

Stitches aren’t major surgery, but they aren’t pleasant either. That shot in the wound is always an attention-getter.

People would rather use a band-aid than go through the painful ordeal of getting stitches, but you have to be able to accept when a band-aid just isn’t enough. The wound requires a better level of medical care.

In many of the same ways, the Buccaneers are about to use Blaine Gabbert as a band-aid when they really need something better.

Smart people can make very compelling arguments for Gabbert and why he can be a starter. Time in the Arians/Leftwich offense seems like a plus on face value. A really plugged-in person might even get you to ignore one of the worst career stat sheets you’ve ever seen for a guy that is taking over from Tom Brady.

But none of this changes the fact that Gabbert is a short-term fix (if we can even call it that) that only hurts the long-term outlook. That’s the danger of using a band-aid when you really need stitches; it hides the problem well enough, but hiding a wound like that is never a good thing.

The Buccaneers have a quarterback problem. The sooner they accept that, the sooner they can take the necessary steps to get back to relevance.

Tampa needs a new QB to follow Tom Brady. This is no easy task, and the options aren’t as deep as some would think.

Aaron Rodgers and Russell Wilson are the longest of long shots. Deshaun Watson probably won’t be playing football in 2022. The free-agent market has a few names with some intriguing upside such as Teddy Bridgewater, but you fall back into the same problem.

More than needing a good quarterback for 2022, the Bucs need a new quarterback for the future.

This is when most fans would point out that Kyle Trask is still on the roster.

Well, unfortunately for the Trask truthers, the franchise is quickly showing that there may be some doubt about his abilities to lead this roster. If the general belief from in the building is that Gabbert is one of the best fits to be the new QB1, that doesn’t bode too well for Trask.

Spending a priority pick on a quarterback to potentially take over after Brady is an excellent idea in practice when you actually use him for this purpose. The post-Brady era is here, yet the coaching staff has said little that should lead anyone to believe that Trask is a real contender to be the starter in Week 1.

Is one more year on the bench really going to propel Trask that much further that he takes over as the starter in 2023?

Trask would be the obvious starter for the upcoming season if the staff actually believed a jump was coming. Far more growth happens on the field than on the bench.

Regardless, Gabbert looks like the guy right now because he rocks the boat the least. He hides the most significant flaw, and he might even put together a mediocre season with all of the talent around him.

Unfortunately for the Buccaneers, a mediocre season does far more harm than good.

The NFC South could be the worst division in football in 2022, and the Bucs could earn a spot in the playoffs despite an extremely difficult out-of-conference schedule.

This doesn’t actually help.

Limping into the playoffs with Gabbert only succeeds at making the playoffs. If this were the only goal for NFL teams, perhaps it would make sense to keep him. But the real goal is to win Super Bowls, and no one in their right mind should see Gabbert as an option with that goal in mind.

Making the playoffs with Gabbert, which isn’t even a given, is the band-aid that covers up a significant wound. Gabbert would be somewhere around the 20th best quarterback in the NFL, but hey! A playoff appearance! The Bucs make three playoffs in a row after being terrible for almost two decades. That’s good, right?

The cynical Bucs fans probably say yes. There have been many difficult years where just limping into the playoffs as a wild card team would feel good. But the past two years have shown just how attainable a Super Bowl is, and settling for mediocrity is a waste.

Outside of Jimmy Garoppolo, there weren’t any middle of the pack, game manager quarterbacks competing for the rings. Jimmy G did so well leading his team to the playoffs that his team decided to move on to the younger player with the better arm, better athleticism, and better overall talent.

QB wins aren’t a stat. Talent is the end all, and Gabbert simply doesn’t have it.

Now, is Blaine Gabbert closer to Patrick Mahomes and Josh Allen, or is he closer to Garoppolo?

The Bucs would be lucky to get a Jimmy G-type season from Gabbert, and Tampa would be out of its mind to trade for Garoppolo. What does that say about this move?

Young quarterbacks with talent are propelling teams forward in new ways every year. Guys like Josh Allen, Patrick Mahomes, Justin Herbert, and Joe Burrow will terrorize the AFC for years to come.

The NFC, on the other hand, has an opening for a new best quarterback in the conference, and the Bucs aren’t vying for that title with Gabbert or Trask.

The NFL works like a slingshot, and treading water with Gabbert doesn’t build the momentum created from higher draft picks to put a team like the Bucs in a position to draft a star or to trade for one.

No one wants to think about tanking with a team like this, but at least Trask’s unpredictability puts the Bucs in a win-win scenario. If they win, Trask is the guy, and the Bucs get the benefit of a QB on a rookie contract.

In the much more likely scenario, Trask struggles, but at least the Buccaneers can emerge in contention for one of the great young quarterbacks in the 2023 NFL Draft.

Gabbert keeps the Bucs drafting around 16. Are there a lot of good options there during a typical year? How many teams are willing to give up a franchise-caliber QB for the 16th pick and some change?

Making the playoffs to lose in the first round is not a victory. In fact, a season like that is just the first nail in the coffin of staying in Super Bowl contention.

Either way, expecting a tiger to change its stripes after years of showing you what it is simply wishful thinking from the franchise. Familiarity with the playbook means next to nothing. Otherwise, the Bucs probably wouldn’t have won the Super Bowl with a quarterback that was new to the system in 2020.

There is a major mental side to football, but it isn’t rocket science. Talking about Gabbert’s time in the system is the lowest common denominator in a desperate attempt to make the move make sense while ignoring every other red flag.

The Buccaneers still have time to luck their way into a legitimate starter down the road, but it doesn’t seem likely. For a betting man, Gabbert looks like the most likely future based on what we see from the front office and how this offseason is playing out.

Unwavering support for a team just because it’s your team is a waste. Blind praise is never a good thing (and the primary reason why millions of people were killed during the 1900s and beyond due to governments getting unquestioned support).

Questioning things that you love isn’t a bad thing.

The Bucs have made their fair share of terrible moves over their history. See drafting kickers, the Ke’Shawn Vaughn experiment, and the 2021 draft class as a few recent examples.

Letting Blaine Gabbert lead your team would go down as an even worse decision, and as Bucs fans, all we can do is hope and pray that this bleak future doesn’t come to pass.

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