Blaine Gabbert is the quarterback with all the experience. The first-round pick of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2011 is a veteran who has played for five different teams. He spent 2017 flinging the biscuit for Bruce Arians in Arizona. With 56 starts over an 8-year career, he was supposed to be the adult in the room as the new offensive system was put into place.
Ryan Griffin is the golden boy who has been on the Buccaneers’ roster for four years but has never seen a regular season snap. He was brought in at the same time Jameis Winston joined the team in 2015. Without excuse, none of the previous coaching staffs ever worked to get Griffin live game action so the team is forced to make all of their observations based on preseason play. The kid has shown out in the preseason. For preseason, Griffin leads the league in passing completing 51 of 81 for 63% and a QB rating of 100.4.
Both Gabbert and Griffin are 29-years-old. Both were competing for the backup job to Winston this season. That is, until the third quarter of the Cleveland Browns game when Gabbert was scrambling on a third-and-five play. While being tackled by the Browns’ Adarius Taylor, Gabbert would come down awkwardly on and dislocate his non-throwing shoulder. He later appeared on the sideline with his shoulder in a sling.
For now, the backup appears to be Griffin. He’s been having a solid preseason and will continue to get into the playbook to learn the Buccaneers’ offensive system. As for Gabbert; some shoulder dislocation injuries can see a player back within six weeks of the initial separation, once a full range of motion has returned.
Every Bucs fan will tell you the only time they hope to see the second-string QB is mop-up duty at the end of a big win. Of course, this being the NFL, we know is not always the case. So Griffin will prepare for anything as a backup should.
The status for Gabbert may not be as clear. Should the Buccaneers carry three quarterbacks, can they afford to have one of them mending for the next month and a half? Will there be another Arian protégé on the waiver wire that the team might want to take a look at? Will Vincent Testaverde totally ball out tomorrow night in Dallas?
Buc fans don’t have the answers to these questions, but they will tell you this. If they can get to week 16 of this season and have completely forgotten who the backup quarterback for the team is, that won’t be such a bad thing.