If you read any of Mike Clay’s work over at ESPN, you’ll see the Bucs have been granted the honor of having the easiest strength of schedule for the 2021 season. Clay’s analysis is based on his assessment of current rosters around the NFL.

Basing strength of schedule off of the records of last year’s opponents only changes things a little for Tampa Bay, moving them to the 4th most favorable outlook. None of this means much in May, but on paper the Bucs appear to be poised for another strong regular season, largely due to the lack of top-tier quarterbacks on their schedule.

The Buccaneers face just two of Pro Football Focus’ top ten-graded quarterbacks from last season in Josh Allen and Dak Prescott. A few of PFF’s top 20 graded passers exist on the Bucs schedule, but after No. 11 Matt Ryan (2x) and No. 13 Matt Stafford, Daniel Jones (No. 17) and Ryan Fitzpatrick (No. 19) hardly represent the same caliber quarterback. It is worth noting that Tampa Bay will begin the 2021 season facing PFF’s No. 8, No. 11 and No. 13 QBs three weeks in a row.

Even if you don’t ascribe to PFF’s exact QB rankings from a year ago, the general sentiment remains the same. The Bucs do not face many premier quarterbacks during the 2021 season, a fact which bodes very well for the regular season fortunes of the defending Super Bowl champs.

Only five quarterback matchups stand out when surveying the Bucs schedule: Week 1 against Prescott, Week 2 and Week 13 against Ryan, Week 3 against Stafford and Week 14 against Allen. Tampa Bay has four matchups against teams that haven’t made a decision on their starting quarterback yet, including the Saints twice, New England and Chicago. All three of these teams boast impressive rosters, but have questions at the game’s most important position.

Young QB Matchups Highlight Bucs Schedule

Ohio State QB Justin Fields mock draft

Ohio State QB Justin Fields – Photo by: USA Today

It’s not out of the question that defensive coordinator Todd Bowles could be preparing for an incredible amount of rookies or first-time full-time starters at the quarterback position this year. Depending on how early several rookies are ushered into starting roles, the Bucs could be looking at Mac Jones in Week 4, Justin Fields in Week 7 and Zach Wilson in Week 17. Add to that trio Tua Tagovailoa in Week 5 and Jalen Hurts in Week 6, and that’s five potential first-time starters on the Bucs 2021 slate.

The Bucs defense didn’t always play to potential last season, but ironically played their best football of the year against Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes in the playoffs. In their quest to return to the Super Bowl, they’ll face very few quarterbacks in the same tier as Rodgers or Mahomes. On one hand this should raise expectations for a 14-win (or better) season, but will it prepare Tampa Bay well enough for the level of quarterback play they’ll face in the postseason?

Issuing a response would be pointless right now, as only time will tell how challenging the Bucs’ quarterback matchups end up looking by the end of the season. But in a weakened NFC that could be on the brink of losing Aaron Rodgers, a rebuilding division with plenty of question marks and a schedule that features many unproven or underwhelming opposing quarterbacks, the Bucs have no excuses in their mission to capture the No. 1 seed in the 2021 NFL season.

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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8 months ago

In recent years, the Bucs made a bad habit of making rookies and backups look really good, producing results way beyond their actual long term performance would have suggested. Whether it was Marcus Mariota in his debut game against the Bucs (opposite Jameis Winston), or Mitch Trubiskey, or Teddy Bridgewater, or Daniel Jones, or Kyle Allen.
Our much improved defense should be better equipped to avoid such humiliation in the future .. but never count as a bad quarterback someone who is not tested because they are a rookie or a backup.

Captain Sly
Reply to  Naplesfan
8 months ago

Agreed! Justin Herbert torched us for 290yds 3TDand nearly beat us. Taylor Heinicke in playoffs worked us, We actually got beat by Nick Foles and personally I was more worried about Taysom Hill starting in the playoffs than Drew Brees… Todd Bowles defenses seems to struggle with QB’s he doesn’t have much game film on. He get overly aggressive and tries too get cute with his exotic blitzes leaving us vulnerable in the secondary. Seem to happen more with Bowles than other Bucs coaches from the past.

8 months ago

I agree with Jon. However, I want 17-0 for Tom, but I predict 14-3.

8 months ago

Sack Presscrap is such an over paid and over rated QB for Dallass Cowgirls. What playoff caliber team has he played and beaten? The guy is slightly better than average QB with some of best weapons and o line IMO. Big stats against crap teams and not much else from him.

Reply to  fredster
8 months ago

I don’t know man. I disagree. I think Dak is an elite QB. Sure, he has a ton of weapons. But he was producing and winning at an elite level when the WR core sucked. So he’s done it with plenty of weapons, and with very little.