Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles addressed the elephant in the room on Sunday, although the “animal” in question is more appropriately referred to as the “G.O.A.T.”
Bowles spoke of his team’s expectations at quarterback in the wake of Tom Brady’s retirement.
“When you replace a player of that magnitude, first of all, you don’t replace him,” Bowles told NFL Network of Brady’s departure from the team. “You lose aura. You lose the expectation of being great. That doesn’t mean you can’t be great. You just have to do it more as a team. We did it as a team when he was there, but he was such a great player and a great person that you focus all on that. And now that that is gone, the perception is that everything else is gone when really it isn’t.
“We have a lot of good players on our team on both sides of the ball. We have some pieces to fill, but we have a lot of good football players on our team. And we just have to understand that and not go with the so-called outside narrative and do what we have to do to win ball games.”
With Brady retired, all eyes will shift to free-agent acquisition Baker Mayfield and in-house candidate Kyle Trask at the quarterback position.
“I liked Baker when he was coming out,” Bowles said of the former Heisman Trophy winner and No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 NFL Draft.
“We kind of hit it off when I was with the Jets. I went down to Oklahoma and we had this vibe between us. And not to say he had the strongest arm and everything else, but he’s a leader. He has great understanding of the football game. He knows where to go with the football. And he has moxie. He’s a guy’s guy. The players love to be around him, and they will fight for him because he’s a winner.”
“… So, between him and Trask, I have no doubt that one of them will come out and be successful.”
Tampa Bay is Mayfield’s fourth team in three years. The 27-year-old helped his chances by finishing last season strong after being claimed by the Los Angeles Rams.
Trask, 25, completed 3 of 9 pass attempts for 23 yards in one game last season. He was picked in the second round of the 2021 NFL Draft.