Don’t Sleep on O.J. Howard Returning
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have a lot of questions to answer this offseason in free agency, especially at the wide receiver position. Players like Chris Godwin and Antonio Brown are studs, and bringing them back is going to be a major part of how this offense runs next year. The three-wide receiver sets are obviously dangerous with Mike Evans, Godwin, and Brown. Throw Scotty Miller in as a change of pace deep threat and the Buccaneers have defensive coordinators in the fetal position by the third quarter. Lost in this is the most dangerous part of the offense. The two tight end packages.
12 Personnel (2 TE, 2 WR, 1 RB) is the preferred base package for Bruce Arians, especially in goal-to-go situations and in 1st and 10s. The reasoning here is it gives them the most options. If they run they have extra beef up front exchanging say a 174 pound Miller for a 245 pound Cameron Brate. If they pass things get tricky. Both tight ends could stay in to block for a shot downfield, either could stay in with the other running a full route, one could go on a seem route while another is ready for a quick out in the face of a blitz, etc. It becomes extremely difficult to predict what the Bucs will do, and in turn, defensive players will be out of position.
A lot of the year after Howard went down the Bucs ran their 12 personnel sets with an extra lineman. This gave them that extra push up front on rushing downs at the cost of a passing option. Keep in mind the extra lineman would still be in to block, but it doesn’t give them the same versatility. The other option was Brate. He’s a bonafide pass-catching monster. He runs great routes and has some of the surest hands in the game. The problem they run into here is his blocking. He’s just overmatched. If he’s out there he doesn’t even get put in pass protection (the coaching staff knows better) and against defensive ends and even the larger linebackers he gets manhandled at the line on running plays.