28.6 points and 446.8 yards per game. Those are just a pair of top-tier numbers the Tampa Bay offense put up in the first nine weeks of the season.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is back under center, and the offensive explosion has returned. Even with the Buccaneers defense on pace to allow the most points in NFL history, the offense keeps the team in games.
What allows Tampa Bay to move the ball so effortlessly are its receiving weapons. The tight end and wideout positions feature talented options for Fitzpatrick.
Mike Evans sits with 47 receptions for 786 yards. With eight games left to play, he is on track to surpass his career highs in both categories. DeSean Jackson has cooled down of late, but he still possesses the ability to take the top off of defenses.
The combination of Chris Godwin and O.J. Howard has been the difference maker for Tampa Bay. Both of the young pass catchers were expected to take a leap this season, and they have exceeded expectations.
Howard is on the verge of toppling his totals from his rookie season. His impressive 16.9 yards per catch make him a rare big play threat from the tight end position.
For Godwin, the stats may not jump off the page, but he has stood out in a crowded group of receivers. The Penn State product has a knack for hauling in contested catches down the field.
Brate, who caught 14 touchdown passes in the two seasons prior is one a solid tight end. He signed a long-term deal to remain in Tampa back in March, so he is valued by this front office.
Humphries had himself a big game against the Panthers in Week 9. He hauled in a pair of touchdown passes on eight catches for 82 yards for a career day.
If Tampa Bay has any shot at getting back into the playoff race, the talented offense will need to be at its best.
Ryan Fitzpatrick’s last stand
The playoffs have escaped Fitzpatrick up to this point. In his 14-year career, Fitzpatrick hasn’t played in a postseason contest.
As his career winds down, Fitzpatrick knows this might be his best chance. He has never played better. Despite his seven interceptions, Fitzpatrick has already tossed 17 touchdowns and 1,793 yards.
Fitzpatrick knows that his only chance to keep his starting job is to win. If Tampa begins to slide even further, there will be no reason for him to be on the field. The Bucs would quickly turn to back to Jameis Winston to see if he can show that he deserves one more look as the team’s long-term starter.
However, if he can replicate what he did earlier this season, the Bucs could win a few more games and make things interesting the rest of the way. He came so close with the New York Jets back in 2015, but perhaps he can finally get over the hump and make the playoffs.