For the first time in a long time, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have plenty of talent at wide receiver. Now it’s up to the coaching staff to put it to good use.
In the last four to five years, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have finally attempted to put more than one receiving weapon on the field. It started with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans teaming up. Then the team added Adam Humphries, after that DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin entered the fold.
All of a sudden, there are a plethora of receiving weapons for Jameis Winston and the Buccaneers offense.
Last season the Buccaneers passing game had the fourth most yards (4,366) and the fourth most completions (378) in the NFL. The wide receiver position had seven players catch 59 percent of the teams passes (224), 62 percent of the team’s yards (2719 ) and 42 percent of the squad’s touchdowns (11).
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The Buccaneers had to rely heavily on the passing game last season due to the struggle to get a running game going, and the fact that the defense couldn’t keep them in the game. The top pass catchers for the Buccaneers last season were Evans, Jackson and Humphries. The trio made up over 80 percent of the production at the wideout spot.
Even with the emergence of third-round draft pick Chris Godwin, Tampa Bay has continued to add to their receiving corps. The Bucs selected dominant FCS wideout Justin Watson in the fifth-round this offseason.
The Buccaneers have plenty of talent and a new dynamic running back in Ronald Jones II to help bolster the offense, and now the question will be if they will be able to find a way to use each receiver effectively in coach Dirk Koetter’s offense.
Currently on the roster:
Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, Adam Humphries, Chris Godwin, Jesus “Bobo” Wilson, Freddie Martino, Justin Watson, Bernard Reedy, Jake Lampman, Sergio Bailey and Evan Philips.
Players on the bubble:
Jesus “Bobo” Wilson, Freddie Martino, Justin Watson, Bernard Reedy, Jake Lampman, Sergio Bailey and Evan Philips.
Basically, this group of players is fighting for the fifth wide receiver spot. Evans, Jackson, Humphries and Godwin are locks to make the team.
Most likely, it will come down to Jesus “Bobo” Wilson, Freddie Martino and draft pick Justin Watson in the battle for the fifth receiver, but with Watson missing some time in OTAs and minicamp, he is already behind the eight ball. It should be an interesting training camp battle to watch, as we could see some highlight reel catches from players desperate to make the final 53.
Winston and Fitzpatrick’s ability to complete the deep pass will be key for Tampa this season. Both combined for a 40 percent completion rating on deep passes last season. Jameis Winston completed 39-of-98 (40%) deep pass attempts for nine touchdowns while Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 12-of-31 (39%) for one touchdown. Jackson has been a reliable deep threat but he had his lowest yards per reception average of his career at 13.4 yards per catch in 2017.
Tampa Bay will need to start hitting on the deep ball if they want to get the entire receiving corps involved. It will make Jackson happy and it will open up the middle of the field for the rest of the pass catchers.
Wide Receiver outlook:
The Buccaneers have transformed one of the worst group of wideouts in the league, to one of the deepest. Tampa has so many talented receivers that they may have to get creative to figure out how to use all of them. With the prospect of finally having a running game, it could open up the field for the talented receivers and give Winston and Fitzpatrick more time in the pocket.
With so many offensive weapons now at Winston’s disposal this offense which already was a top ten offense last season, will have no excuse to put points on the board.
Buckle up and enjoy that ride because if all things click together this offense could be scary and exciting.
Feel free to comment or tweet me directly at @ND1Bucsfan. Thank you for reading and hope you enjoy and as always … GO BUCS!