As the season winds down, the Bucs need to pick up some momentum for the future. That means getting the younger guys more and more involved. One of those would be rookie tight end O.J. Howard, who is having a pretty solid rookie season. He has 402 yards and five touchdowns this season. When Tampa Bay drafted Howard out of Alabama in April, the prospect of running two tight end sets with Cameron Brate on the other side had fans salivating. However, the Bucs have failed to get both involved interchangeably throughout the season.
In the first thirteen games of the season, it seems like it’s either Howard or Brate getting targets, instead of both. To truly put all their assets to use, the Bucs need to mix it up and get both guys involved. The Tampa Bay offense has plenty of problems, starting with the backfield. The play-action passing game isn’t easy to implement if the Bucs aren’t running well. But over the final three games, it would be encouraging to see the run game pick up, which in turn would feed the passing game. Getting Howard and Brate involved on those play-action passes out of the two tight end sets should finally materialize and give fans hope about the offense heading into 2018.
Howard tied a season-high with six targets in Sunday’s loss to the Lions. He caught for of those for 54 yards and a touchdown, shining as one of the Bucs’ top threats through the air. If he can put up another touchdown or simply serve as a reliable target for Jameis Winston on Monday night, it will give the Buccaneer offense a better chance to move the ball and attempt to keep up with a tough Falcons team.