#2? Are you @#$%ing kidding me!
As pissed off as this makes me and as it should many Bucs fans, the reason PFF ranked the Buccaneers’ wide receiver unit second in the league, heading into the 2020 season is fair. PFF does not look at the teams, and say, “Oh! They have to elite receivers, so let us compare stats and rank accordingly.” No, they look at the entire depth chart. The Dallas Cowboys coming in at #1 is a bit of a question mark in my book. But who am I to argue? A disgruntled fan? A guy who has ownership of a media website or just a guy who does not like the Dallas Cowboys? In part, I do not like the Dallas Cowboys.
#2 is better #7
Before the 2019 season, PFF ranked the Buccaneers receiving unit #7 in the league citing, “Chris Godwin and Mike Evans will form one of the NFL’s most potent receiving duos in 2019. Evans ranked second among wide receivers in 2018 with 543 deep receiving yards while Godwin has already made a name for himself after two years in the league. He’s achieved an overall grade higher than 80.0 in each of those first two seasons and led the Bucs with a 111.1 passer rating when targeted last season. Factor in PFF’s second-highest graded tight end in O.J. Howard (89.1), and you have yourself quite the young and talented receiving corps.” And of course, Jameis Winston connected with Evans for 1,157 yards, 8 touchdowns, Godwin for 1,333 yards, 9 Touchdowns, and OJ Howard for 459 yards and 1 touchdown, totaling 2,949 yards (57.8% of his 5,109 yards) and 18 TDs (54.5% of his 33 TDs).
Cue the G.O.A.T.
With the emergence of Chris Godwin, who received the League’s second-highest PFF grade of 90.4 for a wide receiver, Brady should have no problem connecting with him quickly and often for 10-20 yards.
“Godwin is bigger than quarterback Tom Brady’s traditional slot targets, they look like a good pairing for what Brady likes to do offensively.” – Per PFF
Mike Evans is a beast, and there is no doubt, based on track record, that he will continue his 1,000-yard streak for another season. It’s time for Randy Moss to take a back seat to Evans for the most consecutive 1,000-yard seasons since coming into the league feat, even if PFF graded him at 85.2 last year and lists him as 45th out of their top 50 receivers coming into 2020.
Brady has not lost his deep ball throwing ability.
Brady’s connection percentage was only .2% lower than Winston’s 40.4% last season, although, Winston slung the rock 101 times, which is more than close to half the times Brady threw it deep. According to PFF, “Tom Brady has never been the league’s best deep passer, but like everything else in New England, his deep passing suffered from the lack of quality receivers in 2019. Brady’s numbers were solid if not spectacular, and that’s with nobody winning on a consistent basis. Transporting him into an offense with some of the best deep targets in football should see him catapulted back into the top 10 in 2020.”
Bucs have depth
Justin Watson, Scotty Miller, and newcomer Tyler Johnson will compete for the 3rd and 4th on the roster. Scotty Miller was limited to 10 games last season, sitting behind Breshad Perriman, but managed to catch 13 passes for 200 yards and a touchdown before heading to injury Reserve for ha hamstring injury in December. Being healthy and the third roster spot wide open, Justin Watson, who did catch 15 passes for 159 yards and 2 touchdowns last year, will have to step his game up in what will be very stiff competition.
Maximizing all three spots
Not sold on their depth, the Buccaneers drafted Tyler Johnson in the 5th round of the 2020 NFL draft, and Johnson has hands. He will definitely bring fierce competition for the 3rd spot. Johnson in the last two seasons as a Minnesota Golden Gopher caught 164 passes for 2,487 yards and 25 touchdowns, compare that to Justin Watson’s 286 catches for 3,777 yards and 33 touchdowns for his 4-year totals at Penn State, and Scotty Miller’s 215 receptions for 2,876 yards and 23 touchdowns in his 4-year career at Bowling Green, and on paper, it looks like Tyler Johnson could have a leg up in the competition. However, considering that the word on the street is that there may only be one preseason game, and with the start of the NFL season 54 days away, ( 57 for the Bucs), Tyler Johnson could end up being the odd man out by default, due to lack of transition. COVID-19 really screwed things up for a lot of folks.