There’s no question as to who will be the number one quarterback on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster heading into the 2019 season. Newest Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said very early on that Jameis Winston will be the undisputed starter under center in 2019. That just leaves us to ponder who will be the number two guy.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers added veteran quarterback Blaine Gabbert during the off-season as a player who could compete for the number two quarterback spot, and also be a mentor to Winston learning Arians new system. Also, during the off-season, the Buccaneers resigned quarterback Ryan Griffin back in March to a new two-year deal.
Former 2011 first round draft pick Blaine Gabbert signed a $1.5 million dollar contract with Tampa back in March. Gabbert was with the Tennesse Titans in 2018 playing back up to Marcus Mariota. Gabbert appeared in eight games in 2018 compiling 626 yards, four touchdowns, and four interceptions.
Throughout Gabbert’s career, you can find much of the same as 2018, too many interceptions without the touchdowns along with horrible completion percentages. How does this make a case for Gabbert to get that back up quarterback position? It really doesn’t and this signing back in March looked like and continues to look like a depth signing to help Winston transition into the Bruce Arians led Bucs offense.
Gabbert has never really developed into a consistent quarterback and the numbers prove that. With his 48 starts and 56 game appearances, this eight-year veteran has a tough battle ahead of him for that number two job.
A six-year veteran himself, Ryan Griffin was claimed off waivers by the Buccaneers back in 2015. Since then, Griffin has had a spot on the Bucs roster as the number three quarterback. His break nearly came forth back in 2017 before the Buccaneers signed veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to backup Jameis Winston.
Having never thrown a true NFL pass in all six seasons, one would think the obvious choice for Tampa’s number two spot would be Gabbert. Pump the breaks, folks! Griffin has something that Gabbert doesn’t and that’s called upside. Throughout Griffin’s stay with Tampa Bay, preseason football was the only way to see Griffin perform. From those preseason games alone, one could begin to see that Griffin has a great understanding of what a quarterback is supposed to do in most game situations.
Before an injury sidelined him all season, Griffin seemed to be knocking on Fitzpatrick’s door to claim the backup quarterback job. In the 2017 preseason, Griffin was injured and never saw the field again for the Bucs. Griffin played as well as any quarterback would with an offense built of try out players and low chance guys. The few snaps he could get with players that actually played for the Bucs, he looked fine. If there were ever a time to bet on Griffin becoming the Bucs backup, the 2019 season would be it.
Former starting quarterback for Mississippi State, Nick Fitzgerald earned himself a ticket to Tampa’s 2019 OTA’s. Fitzgerald isn’t your typical Tampa quarterback who stands in the pocket and makes plays with his arm. During his time at Mississippi State, Fitzgerald generated 3,607 rushing yards compared to 6,207 passing yards. Of his 101 career touchdowns, 46 of them came from his legs. Fitzgerald’s passing completion percentage never peaked beyond 55% in his three years starting at quarterback. Unless Arians wants a change of pace quarterback, Fitzgerald may be creating tape for another team during his time with Tampa.
Who Gets the Job?
Like I have stated already, Gabbert may make the team as a third quarterback but ultimately the backup job is Ryan Griffin’s job to lose. The Bucs would be wise to give Griffin a chance to play if anything were to ever happen to Winston during the season. The main reasoning for this decision is his upside as a quarterback, the chemistry with the pass catchers, and the offense as a whole in Tampa.