The NFL’s free agency period is a wild roller coaster ride, and this year has been no different. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers were one of the teams most affected by these moves as they’re now tasked with replacing three players who accounted for nearly 550 receiving yards last season.
The “chris godwin draft” is a question that many people are wondering. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will try to offset the losses of Chris Godwin, Mike Evans and Leonard Fournette by drafting a player in the upcoming NFL Draft.
TAMPA, FLORIDA — The reigning Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost a heartbreaking game to the New Orleans Saints on Sunday, and it had less to do with the final score and being shut out by a divisional opponent and more to do with who was missing towards the conclusion of the game.
The Bucs lost over 60% of their offensive output on a night when they were anticipated to win the NFC South, perhaps jeopardizing their chances of repeating as champions with the playoffs only weeks away.
Chris Godwin, a wide receiver, tore his ACL and is out for the season, with no chance of returning for the playoffs. Then hamstring problems forced wide receiver Mike Evans and running back Leonard Fournette to leave the game. Fournette exited the stadium on crutches, but both players are expected to be ready for the playoffs.
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“He’s well,” says the narrator. Coach Bruce Arians stated Wednesday that he “looked like he did before he was wounded.” “We’ll just go with the flow throughout the game.” Allow him to tap out whenever he wants.”
Brown plays a different position than Godwin – he has the most offensive snaps of any Buccaneer, with 802 – and lines up all over the field, as opposed to Godwin’s slot role, but he can help second-year wide receiver Tyler Johnson, who will carry a major chunk of Godwin’s workload.
Godwin is “a central aspect of what we do,” according to Arians. “It’s up to Tyler and a few other men to fill that void.”
Johnson, like Godwin, has played a significant amount of time in the slot, accounting for 113 of 459 offensive plays. He has a few characteristics with Godwin, such as a high level of concentration required to make challenged receptions (such as the 18-yard catch Johnson made against C.J. Gardner-Johnson in the fourth quarter against the Saints), and his speed and height may be deceiving.
Few receivers, though, will match Godwin’s 5.8 receptions over expectation, which is among the league’s best this year. Few can handle Godwin’s high amount of targets and yet catch 77.2 percent of them with just two drops, nor are they as muscular as Godwin, whose blocking prowess Arians compared to that of a tight end.
Against the Saints, Johnson’s lack of physicality was evident. In the press, he struggled. He also dropped an out route in the fourth quarter while set up in the slot, although he did catch four receptions on seven targets for 41 yards.
But who will take Mike Evans’ place?
Scotty Miller took over for Evans on Sunday, and he struggled against the Saints, catching just two passes on eight attempts, one of which was intercepted by Gardner-Johnson, who chased him on a crossing route before swooping in. Last season, Miller showed off his clutch playmaking with a 48-yard touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings and a 39-yard buzzer-beater in the NFC Championship game.
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Owing to injury (he was put on injured reserve due to severe turf toe), he only saw four targets all season previous to Sunday.
Evans’ vast catch radius (he’s 6-foot-5 and 225 pounds) will be sorely missed, particularly in the red zone. Evans has the most end zone targets in the NFL since 2016. Miller is barely 5’9″ and weighs 174 pounds.
Although he may not win many jump-ball contests, tight ends Rob Gronkowski, O.J. Howard, and Cameron Brate must stand up and assist him.
Breshad Perriman might be back in action shortly. He was put on the reserve/COVID-19 list last Friday, less than a week after scoring the game-winning 58-yard touchdown against the Buffalo Bills, and he was given the nod over Miller, who was a healthy scratch in the Bucs’ Week 13 victory over the Falcons. He has a good combination of speed and toughness, and he can regularly get out of trouble.
“From what I’m hearing, he’s very close,” Arians said of his comeback.
What role does Le’Veon Bell, the running back, play?
Ronald Jones II will continue to be the starting running back on first and second downs, but Bell has an influence on the passing game. Ke’Shawn Vaughn, the Saints’ second-year running back, struggled against them, losing a second-and-8 throw in the flat and sliding on a short pass over the middle.
Jones isn’t a natural pass-catcher or pass-blocker, and he’s given up sacks this season to the Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots, but Vaughn lacks the experience.
Bell has an amazing 87.6 percent career pass block victory rate. In 98 career games, he’s only allowed five sacks. Bell also has the most scrimmage yards in the league since 2013, with 10,315 yards.
“It depends on how quickly he can catch up,” says the narrator “Bell, the Arians stated. “He was a terrific receiver in the past and spent some time in this scheme in Pittsburgh. In the next weeks, we’ll see what he can teach us and what he can offer us.”
Todd McNair, the running backs coach, said Thursday that Bell has pleased him thus far.
“He has an excellent understanding of what we do,” says the narrator “McNair explained. “It’ll all boil down to language and such. … He had a wonderful day today, learning the offense and comprehending all that we were doing. He didn’t seem to mind. He simply finished the exercise and didn’t make a single mental blunder.”
Expectations, however, should be kept in check. This isn’t the 2016 or 2017 Bell. With the Baltimore Ravens this season, he recorded a career-low 2.7 yards per carry. Even after Clyde Edwards-Helaire went down with an injury, he couldn’t get on the field with the Kansas City Chiefs last season. In the AFC Championship, he was a healthy scratch, and he didn’t play a single snap in the Super Bowl.
Still, he provides them with expertise they don’t have right now, and quarterback Tom Brady needs someone he can trust in the long run.
“I’ll tell you what, he’s got his trademark patience about him – the way he runs the football, for example.” “McNair explained. “”You can still see those traits, even if he doesn’t have the energy he had in his third or fourth year.”
What does the Buccaneers’ playoff outlook look like right now?
The Buccaneers still led the NFC South by three games coming into Week 16, and they have the NFL’s weakest remaining schedule, according to the FPI, as of Thursday.
However, overcoming the Green Bay Packers (11-3) for the NFC’s top spot and a first-round bye might be difficult. The Packers end the season with games against the Cleveland Browns, Minnesota Vikings, and Detroit Lions, two of which are at Lambeau Field.
The Buccaneers were also passed by the Dallas Cowboys (10-4) despite their head-to-head record, since the Arizona Cardinals are now 10-4 as well, and head-to-head tiebreakers are no longer used when three or more teams are involved. The Rams, who upset the Bucs in Week 3, are 10-4 as well.
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