It Will Matter Eventually

September 21st, 2020

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Tampa Bay’s 3-headed monster can’t get out of its own way.

Through two weeks, the Bucs have failed to integrate their deep tight end corps into a new offense shaped around Tom Brady’s skills. That’s a surprising development because Brady was fond of utilizing his tight ends in New England during his 20-year career.

Of course it helps when you’re throwing to a Hall of Fame tight end in his prime, but Rob Gronkowski, now 31, hasn’t made his mark yet as a target in Tampa. Right now, Gronk looks like a guy who took a year off from the grind. He’s a little slow and a little rusty, although Bruce Arians said his fourth-quarter blocking against Carolina Sunday was exceptional.

Gronk doesn’t look like Gronk, explains Ira Kaufman.

Gronkowski has been targeted only four times, with two catches for 11 yards. He’s struggling to achieve his traditional separation from linebackers and safeties.

“That’s the one thing I expected to see that we haven’t seen yet – Rob Gronkowski being a factor,” says NBC analyst Tony Dungy. “That’s the one guy he (Brady) knows and they haven’t hit it yet, but they will.”

Brady has directed nine passes in O.J. Howard’s direction, completing five for 47 yards and a touchdown. Cameron Brate couldn’t get his hands on his only target for the season.

Add it all up and these three tight ends are averaging only 29 receiving yards per game as a collective group. Perhaps things will change Sunday in Denver, but for now this is an underachieving unit.

And when you factor in their contracts, the lack of production looks even worse. Gronkowski’s base salary is $9 million while Brate is on the books for $4.25 million. Still on his rookie deal, Howard’s base salary for 2020 is $2 million.

It’s very early in the season and Brady is still feeling his way with new teammates, so things could change. New narratives are written every week in this league. Mike Evans wasn’t much of a factor in Week 1, but he dominated the opening half against the Panthers.

Chains Count

Brate must be wondering what the heck is going on.

The one target is troubling enough, but more ominously, he can’t get on the field. His 11 snaps through two games didn’t give him much of an opportunity to earn Brady’s trust. Brate had solid days in training camp, but those were practices at One Buc Place. He has yet to catch a ball from Brady when it counts.

Tom Brady and O.J. Howard

Howard has seen 71 snaps while Gronkowski has been on the field for 96. Howard’s TD grab at the Superdome was a well-designed play that sprung him wide open in the left corner of the end zone.

What we haven’t seen are those Brady darts over the middle to his tight ends that keep the chains moving. As a result, Howard and Gronkowski have generated only three first downs as a tandem.

There’s only one football and it’s not like Brady lacks for credible targets at wide receiver. On Sunday, several dropped passes prevented the Bucs from rolling to an easy win.

But sooner or later, this tight end trio needs to be more involved.

The Bucs have to make a determination on Howard going forward. Brate is chained to the sidelines while Gronkowski is pining for glory days.

You know what they say about glory days? They pass you by in the blink of an eye.

Missing Piece

Evans is back in form while Chris Godwin looks good to go at Denver. Scotty Miller is doing a nice job and Tampa Bay’s backs were more involved in the passing attack in Week 2. Leonard Fournette has energized the ground game.

If Brady can get these tight ends going, even a little bit, this offense will be very difficult to contain.

Buc fans don’t play favorites in this situation. They don’t care whether it’s Gronkowski, Howard or Brate who steps up against the Broncos, as long as someone makes a difference.

Funny thing about these 3-headed beasts. Sometimes, they can be a pain in the neck.

Ira Kaufman’s column is presented by Bill Currie Ford, where the stunning offers are waiting for you. Click on Ira to visit, where GM Sean Sullivan will help you personally.


42 Responses to “It Will Matter Eventually”

  1. zzbuc Says:

    Agree with you Sage…., the only question is how much money do we spend on TE…..That´s what doesn´t make sense…..
    Last year we didn´t thow the ball to TE either, so that´s not much of a surprise…..That´s not how BA usually plays……Sooner or later this could be a problem, because TB12 needs those TE like water.

  2. 813bucboi Says:

    the offense has to continue to create an identity….the TEs will get more involved as the season progress…no need to force things….it’ll be pick your poison mid season…dominate in the playoffs!!!!

    GO BUCS!!!!!!

  3. 813bucboi Says:

    brate could be on the trading block quietly?….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  4. Coburn Says:

    Brate either needs to get the ball more or maybe be traded. He’s too good of a pass xatcher and seems to fit what Brady looks for. At some point I think Arians just needs to be less stubborn. So much talent at what position and flat out said in his presser right ends don’t get much priority on this scheme

  5. Coburn Says:

    Just think how much salary could have sent to a Godwin extension. Could you imagine not being able to extend a guy like him, David, or Shaq because or money we spent on tight ends this year that could have been carried over.. and then not end up using them,?

  6. Jaymiss Pick6 Again Says:

    “Glory days, they pass you by in the blink of an eye.” The Boss. Great song and how many of us 50 somethings have pined for our Glory Days. Nice post Mr. Kaufman.

  7. PSL Bob Says:

    I rooted for OJ’s success, but have not been impressed so far. He’s made some really good plays and then looked terrible on others. No consistency. As things stand now, I’d jettison a couple of the Big 3 (Brate, Gronk, OJ) next year to clear cap space for Godwin. The only real benefit of Gronk so far is his superior blocking skills. But does he want to stay in the league primarily as a blocker? Don’t think so. Let’s see what Auclair and Hudson can do. As little as the TE’s are targeted, can’t do any worse.

  8. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    Imma keep on saying it over and over and over and over again…………..

    BYRON LEFTWICH is the problem…….a major problem at that.

    He’s unimaginative….predictable and just flat out sucks as a playcaller

    I know Bucco Brucie is trying to prop him up as HC material….but sorry Brucie….I don’t see it.

  9. TSmitty3000 Says:

    Let’s be honest about these tight ends.

    OJ is nothing more than a combine warrior. I’m an Alabama fan and OJ didn’t dominate in college. He primarily got open on misdirection plays.

    Gronk is done. Dude is a first ballot hall of famer, but he’s simply a blocking tight end at this stage in his career.

    Brate hasn’t been the same since the injuries. Brate used to be a great red zone threat, but hasn’t been the same since those injuries.

  10. Guadalajara, Mexico Fan Says:

    I wonder if TB12 does talk to BL about the the game plan. I mean, TB12 knows his straights and skills, why not to talk to you OC and let him know that using more the TE will be a plus and would rise TB12 game.

  11. 813bucboi Says:


    keep saying it…

    BL will make you eat crow every week…just like he did sunday!!!

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  12. TheBucsAnthem Says:

    I like turkey ^^^^^

  13. Jaymiss Pick6 Again Says:

    Respectfully disagree YSmitty: There is one ball and there is Evans, Godwin, Miller, Watson, Shady, Fournette, RoJo, Gronk, Brate and Howard. Just too many mouths to feed. I purposely stayed away from Bucs skill players in FFB for this reason.

    It’s a commitee and Coach Arians doesn’t really utilize TE with the possible exception of Heath Miller back in the day.

  14. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    As much as we get burned by other team’s TEs….you’d think we’d use our own.

  15. Bucfan81 Says:

    Don’t worry Gronk won’t be here next year. That money will all go to Godwin. Hopefully the Bucs start trimming the fat during the off season and the high priced free agents that don’t produce walk the plank. No need to waste money on positions that are under used.

  16. Coburn Says:

    Have to agree with anthem on lefty. Not a bit fan . Second half you could see Panthers adjustments, especially in run game to trick our speedy defense. Saw nothing from lefty like that. Very vanilla run game

  17. Defense Rules Says:

    Sorry Ira, but I can’t see BA & BL getting the TEs more involved in the passing game until both of them start trusting our OLine to do its job without TE blocking help. I think that’s why Brate can’t get on the field (questionable blocking skills?).

    Seems also like both Brees & Bridgewater had some excellent checkdown outlets for most of their games. Brady? Not so much. Differences in philosophy between the Bucs’ attack & the other 2 teams I know, but still, it seems that there’s something about Bucs’ pass play designs that’s limiting Brady. Quite unimaginative for the most part. The same could probably be said about the running game though. Bucs need to get creative & polish this thing fast because we’ve got some tough opponents ahead of us this season.

  18. Jason Says:

    The perfect TE for this offense is Luke Stocker. Just saying.

  19. 813bucboi Says:

    Second half you could see Panthers adjustments, especially in run game to trick our speedy defense. Saw nothing from lefty like that.

    you dont fix what aint broke….lol….panthers needed to make adjustments because they were getting slapped around….

    offense needs better execution…playcalling is fine….

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  20. Lamarcus Says:


    You must be BL girlfriend or something. BL has no business being a OC

  21. Bucsfanman Says:

    It was mentioned briefly above and I noticed it too; TEs aren’t getting separation. Gronk, specifically, had a LB all over him on a play where Brady was clearly looking for him.
    They are CLEARLY running routes so I don’t buy the notion that they are not part of the overall “scheme”. Why run routes then?

    There’s also probably some truth in Defense Rules notion of trusting the OL.
    The TEs will have bigger games. It’s a matter of time.

  22. Coburn Says:

    Except our run game was broke until right at the end. First most of 3rd quarter they were keying on the run and knew we were trying to run the clock. Instead of trying to punish their over agressiveness against the run we just kept doing same thing with some 3 and outs

  23. Clean House Says:

    Ira you’re wrong about one thing, some of us do play favorites.

    My favorite is Brate. I think its a sad underutilization on the part of this franchise over the past few years.

    I understand he was injured… but still they should be using him now, the guys a red zone stud and led the NFL in TDs not too long ago!

    I’d also love to see Gronk-

    Honestly I don’t even consider OJ as a true TE

    I like the other two- old school players

  24. Sumosam Says:

    We will use the tight ends when we need them. Who cares how much money they make. The coaching staff isn’t stupid. In games when it is better to use them, our coaches will use them.

  25. Coburn Says:

    Can’t help but feel this was one of those games where they should have used them… When in the past has Arians shown he is willing to feature tight ends much? He basically said in his presser today his offense doesn’t and won’t. Which is disappointing to hear

  26. Bird Says:


    Hahaha. Calling bucboi that
    We all know you are jameis girl…taking care of dem nuts


    In all fairness though , i will say i am not seeing leftwich offense’s creativity
    I know it takes time so not throwing in towel. Actually was texting during buc game with another die hard buc fan and he said same thing about Leftwich playcalling.

  27. 813bucboi Says:


    we all know whos boyfriend you are….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  28. bucsfan951 Says:

    Lamarcus Says:
    September 21st, 2020 at 4:19 pm

    You must be BL girlfriend or something. BL has no business being a OC

    dude, do you really want to talk about who is whos gf? you’re so balls deep on jw, its borderline scary

  29. Lamarcus Says:


    Hahaha. Yall just mad that this team does NOT look any better than last year with less talent 💀

  30. Buc N A Says:

    Ira I’m SURE IF Travis Kelsey sat out for a year and then came back he would be a wee bit rusty as well!! Remind ,e again how many rings Gronk has compared to Kelsey ho is obviously one of your boys??

  31. Reach87 Says:

    2 games… give it time. OBTY it’s not just the TEs, it’s the slot work and option routes. Takes time. Go Bucs!

  32. Ndog Says:

    This whole thing is just so disappointing we could be so excited right now about a team that is on his way up and we’ll just get better and better and better. instead we’re trying to flip a microwave a team to win in the next year or for lucky to really really sad and just rip the heart out of this franchise unbelievable how short-sighted these people are oh well I guess we’ll have another decade plus of being pretenders.

  33. Ndog Says:

    The worst part is we were sooooooo close to getting it right.

  34. Ndog Says:

    Having Brady on this team makes them almost impossible to root for. Simply put spoiled brats who’ve had everything go their way their entire lives are not easy to cheer for.

  35. SlyPirate541 Says:

    Brady needs to stop forcing it to Gronk. Everyone in the world knows the ball is going to Gronk when he runs up the middle. How about instead, the Bucs use this to their advantage and go somewhere else with the ball? This will eventually free Gronk up.

  36. bucsfan951 Says:

    Lamarcus Says:
    September 21st, 2020 at 5:56 pm

    Hahaha. Yall just mad that this team does NOT look any better than last year with less talent 💀


  37. bucsfan951 Says:

    Ndog Says:
    September 21st, 2020 at 6:46 pm
    Having Brady on this team makes them almost impossible to root for. Simply put spoiled brats who’ve had everything go their way their entire lives are not easy to cheer for.

    dude, just come out and say it. you want this team to fail so you can say “i told you so” its ok, we all know that is what you’ll say.

    you never answered my questions from the previous story from earlier this morning? too scared to admit i am right? don’t want any of this smoke? man, you’re a weak individual. NEXT!


  38. Colonel Angus Says:

    I agree the posters about BL play calling skills. We don’t seem to attack other teams weaknesses, we just go out and do our thing. I’ve never been a fan of that philosophy. I watched Brady and the Patriots offense attack their opponents where they were weak. If they can’t stop the run, pound the rock 40 times a game. If a team can’t stop TE’s, give them 15-20 targets a game…etc. Bucs are too predictable right now, hopefully that changes. Was nice to see a flea flicker, can’t remember the last time the Bucs ran one of those.

  39. Buc N A Says:

    Nice Ad placement Joe

  40. DoooshLaRue Says:

    JayMiss’s love juice sustains him!

  41. Nate1111 Says:

    Gronk is a cool guy but hes starter caliber anymore is blocking is fine though

  42. Buczilla Says:

    For the first time in a long time, I have some faith that this team is doing pretty much everything the right way. Licht has been making phenomenal decisions, our very young defense is playing well, we finally have a legit threat at running back, and we jettisoned yet another failed Buccaneers QB for the best of all time. With the cap going down next year we’ll have to get rid of some good players, but I think that we’ll still be in good shape.