Look For 120 Catches

June 30th, 2016
Big play receiver out of backfield?

Big play receiver out of backfield?

It is not too early for bold predictions.

It’s June 30 and soon, the good folks of Buccaneers.com will be too swamped with training camp to even predict when they will have their heads hit a pillow at night.

In offering his take on a bold prediction in a roundtable-like format, Buccaneers.com multimedia maven Scott Smith sees the running backs blowing up with receptions — 120 from Doug Martin, Charles Sims and superback Danny Vitale.

Now, as for mine. Basically, what I’m saying here is that the running backs will have a big place in the Bucs’ passing attack. Yeah, yeah, I know that Vitale is listed as a tight end, but he was drafted as a fullback and he might really be more of an H-back, and you get the point. These are the three primary guys who will be “coming out of the backfield” to catch passes.

Sims, as we know, was touted as a great pass-catching back when he was drafted in 2014, and he showed that last year with 51 receptions for 561 yards and four touchdowns. I think he’s still refining his game and will get even better. Let’s give him 60 grabs this year. Martin added another 33 receptions of his own, and he has looked very good running routes and catching passes on the practice field this spring. Remember, he had 45 catches as a rookie. So let’s give him 40, which is reasonable, and now you’re at 1,000. That leaves 20 for Danny Vitale, and while I think it’s possible he gets more than that, I don’t want to overstate it. There are only so many passes to go around.

So, 120 catches by a trio of “running backs”…is that a bold prediction? Well, again, you have to grant me the inclusion of Vitale in that group for it to work, but the last time three was near that mark was in 2003, when Michael Pittman (75), Thomas Jones (24) and Jameel Cook (20) combined for 119.

Before Joe gets going here, Joe suspects some of that Northwestern purple pride is showing through for Smith to include Vitale.

This isn’t an outrageous guess by Smith. If you break it down per game, 120 catches for the season basically averages two catches a quarter.

If this does happen, then Sims will have one helluva year, as Martin isn’t the best at pulling in passes.

While the Bucs will tell you they are still a running team, and their personnel backs that up, Joe doesn’t think Dirk Koetter, now calling all the shots, will run as much as Lovie Smith wanted him too.

New day, new era, new coach, new philosophy.

16 Responses to “Look For 120 Catches”

  1. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    I agree with that assesment, look for Sims to get a bigger role in the passing game, I don’t think we gave him the ball enough last year. I got excited every time they threw him a screen pass, wich was highly successful last year. He broke off some big runs on those screens for us. Im hoping we see alot more of that this year. I think Dougy is a underated pass catcher as well, he isn’t Sims but he still does a good job as a receiver and doesn’t dissapoint. The one guy I’m very intrigued by tho is ofcourse our new swiss army knife in Vitale. It will be very interesting to see all the different ways the bucs use him throught the season. Will we use him as a RB in short yardage situations? Or line him up at fullback and block or catch passes out of the backfield. Or even line him up at TE. He provides depth at so many positions. Great guy to have on your roster, suprised he lasted the whole draft.

  2. Buccfan37 Says:

    Joe and DemBoyz summed up the situation well. What can be added except Go Bucs!

  3. Defense Rules Says:

    This one’s a head-scratcher Joe. Sims and Martin together were targeted 114 times last year and hauled in 84 of those together (74% …an outstanding percentage). If they (and Vitale) did as well this year (74%) the 3 of them would have to be targeted 162 times to get 120 receptions. That’s a lot of passes (10 per game) going to RBs (counting Vitale as a FB like Scott Smith did).

    If the run game is working well (and it did last year in most games), I can see the Bucs running the ball at least as many times as they did last year (454 rushes was roughly 28 per game). Our OLine’s strength is run blocking and Coach will use that to keep opposing defenses honest I think. Bucs have great potential to have a very diverse attack and Dirk Koetter will take full advantage of that in my opinion.

  4. The bucfan 88 Says:

    Well I could see this come true Doug Martin is your short yardage catching back where u send him In about 3-5 yards and he catches that but sims is weapon x he can run all the routes and As a bonus you can spread him out as a WR and he has solft hands and Danny is just going to be a human bowling ball catching the ball so 120 from our RB is not crazy at all to me

  5. Mojiska Says:

    For that to happen vitale has to be pretty much the #2 t.e. which would mean the asj experiment would be over. Brate caught 23, asj caught 21, Myers caught 12. And remember, our #2 receiver only caught 33 (Jackson). I just want one of our t.e. to “blow up” for 40+ a year. That’s still less than 3 per game… we are in a sad spot at t.e. I think.

  6. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    “now you’re at 1,000”

    That is some strange math.

  7. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    @Defense Rules

    Not arguing with you at all, but keep in mind the quarterback was a rookie. If he progresses, its natural that receptions increase across the board.

  8. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Mojiska Says
    “For that to happen vitale has to be pretty much the #2 t.e.”

    I don’t know why people think he is going to be a Tight End. He won’t be. He’ll be a pass catching fullback, blocker and runner.

    Yes, it will add a little flexibility to the TE group, so you may be right about ASJ, but we always fill a FB position anyway, so it shouldn’t reduce a roster spot.

  9. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    And Vitale CAN run the ball. He just wasn’t called upon to do as much as most FBs in college.

  10. Erik w/ Clean Athletics 'The Kwon Alexander of Bucs Fans' Says:

    Mr. Smith’s prediction is weak.

    Vitale will have 60; Sims will have 60; Martin will have 40.

    That’s 160 catches between those 3 guys.

    That’s a bold (yet totally realistic) prediction.

  11. Defense Rules Says:

    @BuccaneerBonzai … “keep in mind the quarterback was a rookie”. Agree Bonzai that Jameis will have a much better year (higher completion percentage and a more experienced offense will lead to more completions). But if all our RBs, TEs and WRs step up to the plate and do better, the TEs and WRs especially should get more than last year (hopefully less injuries this year). I think that the RBs were used a lot last year (especially Sims) out of necessity a much as anything (ASJ and VJax injuries limited the TE and WR touches?). Kind of impossible to tell at this point though what this year’s offense will evolve into. But in any event it’s gonna be fun.

  12. Pickgrin Says:

    Its possible. I believe we will see more screen passes this year. And Jameis will get better at taking what the defense gives him which probably means more check down passes to the backs if downfield coverage is good.

  13. LakeLandBuc Says:

    We’re not getting any production from our WRs and TEs, the backs are our last hope.

  14. Mojiska Says:

    I think although he is definitely a fb, the touches he takes away from are the tight ends. I have no clue how he will be used, but to only put him in the fb role would be wasting a lot. In hurry up offense I would like to see single back sets and him flexed out, used like our version of Dallas Clark.

  15. Fred McNeil Says:

    Is Vitals a good blocker?

  16. martinii Says:

    Probably should include the slot receiver. He will line-up in the backfield