In a 27-17 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on Friday night, Baker Mayfield continued his effort to replace Tom Brady as the starting quarterback for Tampa Bay and launch his career. He had a respectable, if not particularly impressive preseason debut for the Buccaneers.
The battle for the starting position that opened up after Brady announced his retirement following the 2017 season has been dubbed “too close to call” between the No. 1 overall pick in 2018 and Kyle Trask.
While it is always challenging to evaluate performances in games where the starters from both teams play minimally and the coaching staffs spend much time evaluating backups and inexperienced players hoping to make the final roster, Mayfield had better numbers in the first 112 quarters of the Steelers game.
In his one series of play, Steelers starter Kenny Pickett completed six of seven passes for 70 yards in an 83-yard drive that included 10 plays and a 33-yard touchdown strike to George Pickens.
Even though the Bucs only started one regular on defense, Pickett was impressive.
In contrast, Mayfield had to play without six offensive starters, including Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and three seasoned linemen.
In five series against a mix of Pittsburgh starters and backups, Mayfield, who has played for four teams in the past two years, was 8 of 9 for 63 yards and one score.
The 28-year-old, who played four seasons with Cleveland before making a total of 10 starts for Carolina and the Los Angeles Rams last season, didn’t turn the ball over, which is equally crucial to coach Todd Bowles.
The No. 3 quarterback behind Brady and Blaine Gabbert who was selected in the second round of the 2021 draft played in just one regular-season game in two years and was sacked three times while completing six of ten passes for 99 yards and one interception.
Mitchell Trubisky and Tanner Morgan were also used by Pittsburgh, while Mason Rudolph also completed a 67-yard touchdown pass to Calvin Austin III.