So far quarterback Jameis Winston has done his best to prove he can be a distributor in the passing game like Tom Brady. Having said that, one player Winston has yet to involve in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense is O.J. Howard.
O.J. Howard Could Help Tampa Bay Buccaneers Defeat New York Giants
He continues to throw to Mike Evans like he did in 2016 and spreads the pigskin evenly between DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries. Rookie Chris Godwin also appears to be a significant factor going forward. Charles Sims is a pass catching running back.
However, the use of the tight ends has been interesting. It seems that Winston and offensive coordinator Todd Monken are still trying to figure out how to use them among all the weapons they already have.
Cameron Brate was vital last year, but his targets have dropped to fourth on the team, although he has caught a higher percentage of his targets than Evans, Jackson and Humphries.
Another reason Brate’s targets have diminished is the Bucs have also incorporated Alan Cross for two catches and Howard for two catches.
For the most part, the Buccaneers have gone to form of using Brate as the primary pass catching tight end. Howard’s main role is blocking at the line of scrimmage.
This week’s matchup against the New York Giants provides an opportunity for the Buccaneers to use Howard in the passing game. It is also a situation where the Buccaneers might need Howard to win the game altogether.
The Giants have one of the most athletic, hardest hitting secondaries in the NFL. They ranked as the second best secondary in the league last season according to Pro Football Focus. The Giants and the Denver Broncos were the only teams to have more interceptions than passing touchdowns allowed last season.
Landon Collins might be the best all-around defensive player in the NFL at strong safety. With a 2016 stat line of five interceptions, one which was returned for a touchdown, 13 passes defended, one fumble recovery, four sacks and 100 solo tackles, Collins deserved to win the Defensive Player of the Year over Khalil Mack.
Corner backs Eli Apple and Janoris Jenkins are versatile enough to shut down Evans and Jackson. Add in Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and recent acquisition Ross Cockrell and the Giants could prevent Winston from spreading the sugar. Jenkins did deal with an ankle injury last week.
However, the Buccaneers might be able to exploit New York’s new starting free safety Darian Thompson. Thompson has been adequate with 13 solo tackles through three games, but he will be making just his fifth career start and appearing in his sixth game overall.
B.J. Goodson began the season as the starting inside linebacker for the Giants but has missed the past two games because of a shin injury. Calvin Munson has been the replacement but Goodson still has more solo tackles (14) in one game than Munson has total tackles (10) in two games.
Howard may be able to slip in between the hashmarks. Howard’s size and hands also give him the ability to make plays out of nothing.
If Winston has already made an effort to establish a connection with his other rookie Godwin, why not make the effort to establish the rookie that was drafted in the first round?