Rusty Tight Ends

January 16th, 2020

Details passing game.

Toward the end of the season, the Bucs’ receivers corps was so shattered by injuries, Tampa Bay was pulling dudes off the street to catch passes.

But unlike a lot of teams, the Bucs were also loaded with tight ends. You will be hard-pressed to find any team with two tight ends as talented as O.J. Howard and Cam Brate.

But when the Bucs decided to lean on those tight ends, the tight ends dropped the ball, literally.

So prior to the final game, Joe asked Brate what happened. In short, Brate explained he believes in the phrase, “If it is not broke, don’t fix it.” And Brate said there was nothing wrong with the Bucs’ offense repeatedly targeting two of the best receivers in the game, Pro Bowlers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.

So Brate believed it was rust, in part, was why the Bucs tight ends didn’t answer the bell when called upon after Evans and Godwin went down with season-ending injuries.

“If you look at the season as a whole, the way Mike and Chris have played, they get the lion’s share of the targets,” Brate said. “And that is the way it should be. Those two guys are incredible receivers. Both Pro Bowlers. The quarterback’s progressions this year, they started with Mike and Chris — as it should.

“I think that definitely plays into it.”

In effect, Brate told Joe that all of a sudden when the tight ends needed to be a key cog in the offense, it wasn’t as simple as flipping on a switch. Still, Brate emphasized, there was no reason for the Bucs to target tight ends because the passing game keying on wide receivers was humming.

“Yeah, it has been frustrating at times,” Brate said. “It’s not like we haven’t been moving the ball on offense. If we could eliminate the turnovers we would probably be the best offense in the league. It’s hard to question the coaches [as a result].”

This all makes sense but there were plays that the tight ends should have made regardless of who is targeted throughout the season.

For example, Breshad Perriman wasn’t a key target until the injuries piled up, and then he raised his game to a point he likely will be a coveted target on the open market when the free agency dinner bell rings in March.

Bucs tight ends had critical drops on easy passes in December. That shouldn’t be a result of who was targeted in the passing game against the Giants in September.

In a big picture theory, Joe fully understands what Brate is saying and it all makes sense. Still, key drops on short passes in key situations should be made regardless of the focus of an offense. Brate was hardly alone in this.

Joe thinks the world of Brate and believes he (and Howard) were terribly underutilized this past season. And with Brate’s salary, Joe has a dark feeling this interview may be Joe’s last with Brate as a Bucs tight end.

Unless the Harvard product reworks his contract.

But yeah, Joe gets what Brate is saying. Sometimes, flipping the switch isn’t that easy.

29 Responses to “Rusty Tight Ends”

  1. PSL Bob Says:

    If they’re not going to be used much as receivers, I’d let one of them walk. And, because of the salary cap, I’d say let go of the most costly one (i.e. Brate). Lie you Joe, I really like Brate, but as they say, this is business.

  2. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    That explanation is ludicrous.

    Is he saying that ME and CG are getting all of the balls in practice as well as games?

    If so, wouldn’t the $6 million man lean on Ryan Griffin to throw him a few balls after practice?

    Maybe, the tight ends while in England visited Stonehenge on a side trip and developed a bad case of “Stone hands.”

  3. BradentuckeyBuc Says:

    You can’t not love Brate, would love to keep him, but plain and simple that contract has to go! Rework it or off to New England he goes…

  4. LordCornelius Says:

    Mis-use of resources. If we aren’t going to use Howard like the weapon he can be then move on.

    Howard also was responsible for at least 2 INT’s I believe that just bounced off his hands, in addition to a fumble, so he was making big mistakes with limited opportunities.

    Howard = Dirk Koetter’s pick. Just like VHIII = Mike Smith’s pick. Charles Sims = Lovie Smith. Devin White + corners = BA + Todd Bowles’ picks

    Hard to build a successful franchise with a lapdog GM formula and a carousel of failed coaching hires.

    I don’t even blame Licht anymore because it’s obvious he isn’t the decision man. It’s on the owners for building a stupid structure / having horrific vision for hiring GM’s and coaches and the balance between them / the formula for success going back to Dominic.

  5. thisisouryear!! Says:

    I love Brate and he has chemistry with Winston. If Winston stays, I would keep Brate and trade OJ, but if not I would trade Brate.

    To me the tight ends should have been used as outlets a lot more. I understand opening up the field by going deep but if Jameis\Leftwich\Arians used the tight ends in that capacity I think turnovers would decrease by a large amount.

  6. Ace Says:

    BULLCHIPS! these guys are professionals and get the opportunity to fine tune their game week in and out and practice i don’t want to hear the rust thing that’s a weak excuse. Gotta answer the call when your number is called or CHEAP younger guys like T Hudson will gladly take those reps.

  7. Craig Says:

    I think it comes down to the obtuse ducks that Jameis throws in games. The kind that are a surprise when they actually go where they did in practice.

    Jameis appears to be two different QBs. The practice and film study model, and the one that can’t remember that when the game is going.

    Maybe it is because of those eyes, maybe someone says BOO to him from across the line, I don’t know, but I have watched those duck-like throws flop around all over the place.

    It could also be too much time in the weight room to turn our tight ends into blockers.

  8. Brandon Says:

    With a $200 million salary cap next season, a good TE for $6 mil a season is a bargain.

  9. Adrnagy Says:

    “ if we could eliminate the turnovers”

  10. SammyRebel Says:

    He needs to just go bye bye pleaseeeeee 6 million on maybe suh perhaps or a part of jpp’s contract yeah gimme dat

  11. Allbuccedup Says:

    Overrated tight ends. Keep Howard cause he’s cheaper for now.

  12. 813bucboi Says:

    my favorite part is: If we could eliminate the turnovers we would probably be the best offense in the league.

    thats right brate!!!!!…tell your JW stop turning the ball over because he’s holding us back from greatness…..

    GO BUCS!!!!

  13. Says:

    Joe, not sure the quotes here amount to Brate claiming the drops are because of rust, as you state. He is simply talking about the offense runs through ME and CG. There is no context of the prompts of his quotes as to how his answers relate at all to dropped balls.

  14. No Risk It No Biscuit Says:

    Their paycheck every Friday should keep them sharp as a knife. Smh

    Trade them and bring back our DEFENSE!!!!!

    Go Bucs!!!

  15. diggler Says:

    A Brate article but no mention of Winston’s chemistry with him?!

    MORE Winston articles!!!

  16. SteveK Says:

    Harvard man sees truth: playoff dreams crushed by turnovers!

    Wake up and smell the turnovers.

  17. stpetebucsfan Says:

    If BA is not going to use them…get what we can if anything for Brate and OJ use Auclair and find a small tackle in the draft and make him a ferocious blocking TE.

  18. Defense Rules Says:

    @Brate … “If we could eliminate the turnovers we would probably be the best offense in the league. It’s hard to question the coaches [as a result].”

    Great bottom line Cam. So 41 turnovers this season, 35 of them involving the QB. Other than that, Bucs would have lit the NFL on fire. But Cam’s not gonna point fingers, especially at the coaches. Smart move Cam. He knows which side his $6 mil bread is buttered on.

    Aahh yes, the wheels on the bus go round & round. Thump thump Jameis. Bye bye Cam.

  19. BucEmUp Says:

    Howard was complete trash this season. His head and effort are not there. Don’t know why, he’s clearly got the talent. Brate just cost too much money as a number two tight end. Should trade Howard draft night to move up.

  20. catcard202 Says:

    So basically Brate is telling every DC in the league to bracket coverage toward Evans & Godwin, then force Bucs #3 WR to beat you…As TE is so far down the progression sheet, they aren’t worth worrying about.

  21. gotbbucs Says:

    Everybody says trade Brate because his salary is too high. Do you really think other teams want to absorb that salary?
    Howard is the one with the tradeable contract. If the offense isnt going to utilize TE’s as much as before, fine, but trade the player that can fetch you the most in return. Howard, while he may be a better athlete, just doesn’t seem to translate it to the field. Kind of the looks like Tarzan and plays like Jane type.

    Brate has been a very good player. I would be hesitant to let him go.

  22. Buczilla Says:

    Maybe Brate is just being nice in hopes of keeping his salary and coming back next year, but that is a lame excuse. He’s a grown man, a professional, and gets paid in part to catch the damn ball. Wasted cap space on this dude and Howard as well if we will only seldom use them. Trade them and draft some blocking tight ends.

  23. gotbbucs Says:

    I do love how Joe completely ignored the “eliminate turnovers” part of Brate’s quote.
    Doesn’t exactly fit the agenda, does it?

    ….and I know, it’s Joe’s site and Joe will write about what Joe feels is relevant and interests Joe. Still a bit odd to not have at least one smart a$$ comment about Brate being a Winston “hater”, because let’s face it, who else could he have been referring to?

  24. gotbbucs Says:

    … and so if Brate, who has been here this whole time with Winston, feels this way about the “turnovers”, and has no problem saying it publicly, how many others in that locker room feel the same way?
    I would guess the entire defense is thoroughly feed up with defending the short field. The running backs I’m sure are over not being able to get many carries because the offense is always having to dig out of self inflicted holes. I know the offensive line can’t stand it when they have good protection and the QB throws one of those lame ducks right to the DB. I can’t imagine the coaching staff that spends the entire week scouting and putting game plans in place are thrilled to have all of that effort blown up within the first one or two offensive posession’s.
    These are things that are being brought into consideration with this decision, I guarantee it. If everyone is being honest with themselves inside that building, they’ll make the proper moves to go forward without Winston.

  25. jjbucsfan Says:

    Maybe it is because we had to keep our TEs and RBs in to help our trash offensive line protect the only chance we have to win. Everyone acts like any QB can do what JW does behind this line, in this offense, with no running game. Silliness

  26. D1 Says:


    “Maybe we keep our TE’s and RB’S in to help our trash offensive line protect.”

    I’d say that’s true on occasion, ie: per game basis, what happened frequently was the opposite. Maybe not correct to say opposite . Instead of the offensive line needing help there were boat loads of plays where the defense forced the team to block with TE’s and RB’S. This was the case as the season progressed and it proved to be very effective. Defense wise.

    This isn’t a negative or positive on the oline. Rather, it’s just how certain teams schemed vs the bucs . I’d have to really look at but it initially I have to think winston is more the reason than anything else.

    You are correct that not everyone could do what winston does , no question about it. The fact that other QBS avoid many of situations winston faces is not something a lot of fans consider.

    I’m seeing the idea , the running game needs to improve for winston to.
    It’s frequency has reached levels surpassing the most effective Soviet propaganda campaigns. It seems to have worked as well because no one really questions the accuracy. They should, fact is it’s not much of a factor.
    I hear the denial and predict the rebukes to follow. Just like anyone subjected to a steady stream of propaganda is expected to react. But that doesn’t erase the truth . Truth is , if youre expecting winston to improve if the running game is excellent. You’ll be looking for another scapegoat and saying 1 more year when it doesn’t happen.

  27. westernbuc Says:

    Cornelius, bad take.

    Those were Licht’s picks.

    He gave Brate a monster deal, he gave 93 a huge contract, he drafted Howard and VHIII. He took Noah Spence and Roberto.

    Then he hired a coach that doesn’t use the talent he used resources on.

  28. TOM Says:

    I don,t care who they have to sacrifice. (Winston, Brate, Howard or ?) Keep the defense intact. Lot more fun to watch. Defense wins champions.

  29. lowercaseg Says:

    I like brate, he has produced more than OJ and is more reliable. Trade OJ and pick up a blocking TE. Tanner Hudson seemed serviceable enough to be another pass catching TE on a low budget.