Big Difference

May 19th, 2020


It’s hard to believe Bucs tight end O.J. Howard had most of the snaps at tight end last year.

Why is that? Because his production was so low from what many expected.

Howard had 782 snaps compared to Cam Brate’s 431. However, Howard had just 148 more receiving yards than Brate, and one touchdown reception to Brate’s four.

Clearly, Howard was used more as a blocker last year and the results weren’t very convincing.

So in looking at new arrivals for teams, Mike Clay of BSPN, a spreadsheeter, looks at the best upgrades of the offseason.

Clay has new Bucs tight end Rob Gronkowski as the No. 9-best upgrade in the NFL.

Gronk is back! Following a one-year hiatus, the superstar tight end has reunited with Brady in Tampa Bay. Gronkowski is now 31 and struggled with injuries prior to his brief retirement, but considering his history as an elite player and impact downfield target (he has never finished worse than sixth among tight ends in yards per target), he’ll likely be an upgrade for Tampa Bay. Incumbents Howard and Cameron Brate remain on the Tampa Bay roster, though both will obviously play lesser roles in 2020. Howard has yet to pan out since being drafted in the first round in 2017 and will spend a lot of time blocking this season.

Joe isn’t ready to suggest both Brate and Howard will play lesser roles.

The Bucs need to protect park-violating, home-invading Bucs quarterback Tom Brady, who is less than mobile. Brate isn’t a blocker and Howard, at least when tasked to block last year, wasn’t up to the task.

Howard is an excellent downfield target and Brate just catches touchdowns. Gronk, meanwhile, is a crushing blocker.

You see Joe working here? It sure smells to Joe like Gronk will be doing a lot of pass blocking.

“Now hold up Joe!” you may holler. “It’s crazy to use Gronk mainly as a blocking tight end.”

Joe won’t disagree. But prior to last year if Joe wrote that Bucs coach Bucco Bruce Arians would try to turn Howard into a blocking tight end, you’d have told Joe he was nuts.

And look what happened.

18 Responses to “Big Difference”

  1. Hodad Says:

    Well Joe, out of all of our TE’s I can sure tell you who has the hottest girlfriend! Hubba hubba.

  2. ToesOnTheLine!!! Says:

    Agree Hodad! I just fear that Gronk in 2020 is more persona than production at this point. I do hope I’m very wrong. Regardless, $10M per year and a girl that fine…Gronk is da’ man!

  3. AwShbucs Says:

    I dont get why OJ struggles with blocking now when his college tape suggested he could be dominant in that regard. I remember watching a game cut up of Bama vs Texas A&M. And there were several reps where OJ was matched up 1 on 1 with Myles Garett in pass protection and OJ stone-walled him.

  4. SC Bucs Fan Says:

    Gronk will play on 3rd down and long 2nd downs as well as in the red zone. Howard and Brate can handle the bulk of the snaps to keep him fresh. As long as Arians uses his TEs – a worry for sure – there will be enough work for all of them.

  5. Joe Says:

    I dont get why OJ struggles with blocking now when his college tape suggested he could be dominant in that regard.

    He’s not blocking children any longer.

  6. Geno711 Says:

    Howard had a bad year as a receiver last year. So did Brate. Howard was solid as a blocker or we would have been bitching him out. The easiest things for us to see are blown blocks. Brate has never been a good blocker but was not asked to block at all. If you see Brate blocking this year there are probably injuries to Gronk, Howard and Auclair.

  7. Locked In Says:

    Joe, O.J not being an effective blocker – your opinion/observation or are you actually hearing that from Buc coaches, other analysts, stats geeks?

  8. AwshBucs Says:

    Myles Garrett was a day 1 starter in the NFL and is a physical freak. He was a hardly a child.

  9. John Sinclear Says:

    Awsh – It’s kind of simple. At Bama he didn’t have to hold blocks long enough for the QB to order out pizza delivery before the throw.

  10. Craig Says:

    O.J. is going to have to show something before he gets a lot of snaps. I can see Gronk and Brate starting and Gronk blocking while Brate slips out for screens and crossing route.

    Occasionally I seem Gronk following Evans down the sideline. I don’t see O.J. in much if he hasn’t improved, at least his attitude, over last season. He needs to break the sight of him being seen as soft and get tougher.

  11. Joe Says:

    O.J not being an effective blocker – your opinion/observation or are you actually hearing that from Buc coaches


  12. pick6 Says:

    It’s great for OJ long term, he’ll show OJ how to use his physical tools better at the position. It’s like when Mike Evans was fortunate enough to get a super accomplished veteran who played in the ideal style for his body type, it catapulted his development

  13. pick6 Says:

    also , i don’t think $10 million and the adoration of an all-world starting QB amounts to a run blocking TE. He’ll do plenty of it but he is there to be the fallback option

  14. pick6 Says:

    *to be the security blanket

  15. Sorryjackchuckiesback Says:

    Probably keep him safe blocking more than running down Field!! He’ll be less likely to get injured!!

  16. HomerSimpsonRocks Says:

    FFS quit being a troll. “Park violating, house invading”


  17. ItzOK Says:

    Homer simpson:

    You don’t like it when the Click bait title creating, no real article providing, facilitator of regurgitated news to appear as an article, putting more nicknames to make it appear as more words to fill a word quota, Trolling All you Bucs fans with GMC, Winston, Schiano, Dominick in the story to get reactions from the trolls, Itz Just my Shtick, Itz successful so why change it ever, if you don’t like get your Bucs fix elsewhere, Joe’s do this in articles.

    I love it. It provides me with 10 min of entertainment daily.

  18. fernando diaz Says:

    the I can see them all 3 on the field creating mismatches