Positive Reinforcement

August 17th, 2020

Renewed focus?

Maybe O.J. Howard wasn’t motivated? That’s hard to suggest since he made enough splash plays to show he’s talented as can be.

Maybe Mr. Entertainment, America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston, didn’t have enough street cred for Howard, so whatever words of encouragement Jameis may have had for Howard, they were blown off?

It seems a combination of having a long learning curve, and positive reinforcement from both park-violating, home-invading, NFLPA-ignoring Bucs quarterback Tom Brady and foot-rubbing tight end Rob Gronkowski, has boosted Howard’s confidence to the point he is demonstrating in training camp why the Bucs spent a high draft pick on him.

Howard has always had the talent when healthy. Anyone watching Bucs games saw that. But there was something missing. “Consistency” seems to be the best word. Whatever it was, it was enough to fuel trade rumors for the better part of the past year.

Bucs coach Bucco Bruce Arians seems to see a different tight end in Howard this summer.

“I think the biggest thing for O.J. was just learning what we’re trying to teach,” Arians said. “That’s a very difficult position in this scheme and he’s come in and he’s got a great handle on it right now.”

So what happened since the end of last season? To hear Arians, it sounds as simple as receiving encouraging words from Brady and Gronk.

“I think Rob’s helped him confidence-wise – seeing how good he is and telling him how good he is,” Arians said. “When you’ve got a guy like Gronkowski and [Tom] Brady telling you you’re good, you’re probably pretty good. I think that’s helped, but he’s playing really, really well right now.”

Howard also spoke yesterday via Zoom, and he didn’t deny that Brady brings an edge to practices, which may be paying off for Howard.

“When he speaks, everyone listens,” Howard said of the six-time Super Bowl winner. “That’s the type of leadership ability that he has. Like I said, he does a lot of coaching. The thing about it is, he coaches up everyone at one time.”

So how different is having Brady at quarterback? One difference Howard noted, is that everyone is on the same wavelength because Brady demands it.

“He likes certain routes ran certain ways and when guys can listen and we can get the job done and stay on the same page that he’s on, he can trust [us] and make that throw,” Howard said. “[He can] make a throw that he may not see 100 percent clearly, but he should expect you to be in the position that he’s always been telling us about over and over again.

“I think when he does that, it sticks with you. It gets in the heads of all the receivers and tight ends, and we’re always on the same page. That’s just a different type of leadership that I see from Tom.”

Look, talk is fun and maybe cheap after the first padded practice of the season. All this chatter doesn’t mean a damn thing if the team doesn’t produce come Sept. 13.

But who doesn’t think this offense isn’t going to look sharper with a guy like Brady calling the shots?

20 Responses to “Positive Reinforcement”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Nothing like a contract year and bringing in a future HOF player to compete…..that should motivate most.

  2. Clean House Says:

    Let’s see it on the field. As far as him not trusting in JW, that’s absurd for someone in his position draftwise and in terms of what’s expected. ME13 ,Chris Godwin , and Brate has no problem with JW. Their careers have all progressed nicely when they did their part.

  3. stpetebucsfan Says:

    If the testing keeps the Covid under control this could be a really healthy year for the Bucs and the other teams.

    The difference in contact and injury opportunity from this years erased pre season and in years past is truly significant. These guys should be healthy and rested when they hit the SuperDome.

  4. BigHog Says:

    What Tampabaybucsfan said, to the highest power!!!

  5. Mike Says:

    I can’t blame ANYONE for not trusting JW.

  6. Tampabuscsbro Says:

    Remember how good Fitz made OJ Howard look?

    Really makes one think.

  7. BucsFanForever Says:

    With TE’s Gronk, Howard, Brate and Auclair on the roster we could have the best set of TE’s in the league. Which other team could be better? Chiefs #1 Kelce might be one of the best along with 49ers Kittle but does anyone else have 4 like we do?

  8. JimbobBucsFan Says:

    Perhaps, he was not well coached prior to last year. Perhaps, he did not have the “right” mentor until this year.

    Naw, he was of low character and unmotivated until money came into the picture.
    After all that is why most of the guys play football anyway.

  9. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    OJ was drafted on his perceived potential and his imposing physical make-up. Every skill position offensive player on any team would be jacked to have first-ballot HOF QB throwing to them, and should listen intently to every suggestion. DUH!

    Disheartening that our 1st round draft pick was not motivated to learn on his own, to be the best at his craft. And now 4 yrs later, OJ is finally excited. These player types tend to fade when they are not in the spotlight, so it will be interesting to see how he is used this year by Brady and BA/BL, and his reaction. I am hopeful – OJ has amazing potential.

  10. lambchop Says:

    What changed is Juice got a jump during the Berkeley Prep practices. Good for him to get on that. That and the trade rumors were definitely the catalyst.

    I thought people saying Juice would be the odd man out of the TE group were smoking some good stuff. Juice has the one thing that none of the other TEs have – SPEED. He’s going to go off this season if he’s working on the little things in his game. Brady will find him and utilize the matchup opportunities on slow LBs. With the way this offense is talented, it’ll be so much fun as an OC and QB to have a play dialed up for any situation.

  11. lambchop Says:


    Only the Eagles come to mind, but it stops at 2 with them. Auclair isn’t gang busters, so I’ll give the Bucs the edge with 3.

  12. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    I hear ya, Lambchop. OJ is still a question mark for me. I want and hope he proves me wrong.

  13. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    Playoff expansion means that Bucs should be in the mix. My concern is strength of NFC South Division. Saints might falter in Brees farewell tour, but still talented enough across Offense and Def. Birds are better than we think. Lot of 1st Rd picks on roster who want to prove worthiness. And…Stinking Panthers – geez, Christian McCaffrey is scary enough, and Teddy B is dang solid. Cats will be a challenge.

    Then we have Pat Mahomes, Aaron Rogers, and Vikings – at home. Should be wins with Brady. MUST-freaking-see TV!

    Hopefully BA does not overlook weak teams – Giants, Raiders, Lions. These teams are already considered basement dwellers for various reasons, and should be Bucs W’s.

    Pundits are assigning Saints as NFC south champs with Bucs as #2. I disagree. NFC South has always been unpredictable, and I expect 2020 will be same. Birds will make some noise, as will Panthers. Prediction: Birds, Bucs, Saints, Panthers with the first three making playoffs. Just having fun!

  14. Sport Says:

    The Brady Effect. It’s real. Which finger do you think he uses for that 6th ring?

    Or does he wear them on a necklace?

    Display case?

    What will he do with his 7th? I know for damn sure which finger that one will go on.

    Reporter “what would you like to say to the people out there that said you can’t win without Belichick?”

    TB12 holding up his middle finger with his new SB ring on it “This one means a lot to me and it should mean something to them too.”

    In BA I Trust!

  15. REDZONE BA Fan Says:

    sport – I like the one finger salute w Ring #7. Good one!

    I love me some Brady – and this year will be proof of “Brady or Belichick” argument.

    I also respect Belichick – he found a way to win 6 rings with 6 different types of teams in a parity league, albeit with Brady as his QB. So, here we go to finally get our answers in 2020.

    My only “yikes” moment is that Belichick has never let a player go who is critical to his success. BB did not fight for Brady to stay in NE. I recognize too, that Brady wanted out of NE, for a reason.

    let the games begin, please…..

  16. Sport Says:

    Redzone. – no doubt they arm barred me into total respect for Brady, Belichek. They just kept outsmarting and had a confidence they would always win and they did. Crazy.

    💯 agree ‘let the games begin, please…’

    In BA I Trust!

  17. Clean House Says:

    Let’s see if Brady can take Hall of Fame candidate BS past one playoff win.

  18. AwShbucs Says:

    I mean one of the first things I noticed about OJ after we drafted him was that he had little respect for Jameis. For his rookie performance on HK he mocked one of Jameis’ pregame speeches. Cant blame him, not everybody responds to the rah-rah schtick.

  19. Jeagan1999 Says:

    I would not be surprised if Howard had a big year. It has to be demoralizing when you realize that no matter how well you play, your QB is going to turn the ball over at a critical moment and cost you the game.

    Don’t have to worry about that now with TB12!

  20. unbelievable Says:

    Tampabuscsbro Says:
    August 17th, 2020 at 9:21 pm
    Remember how good Fitz made OJ Howard look?

    Really makes one think.


    You mean the 1 single TD pass he threw to Howard?

    Yea, it’s a real head scratcher lol.