“What Was The Best Game O.J. Howard Has Played?”

May 29th, 2021

Riffs on Bucs tight end.

Bucs thought they got a steal in 2017 when all-world tight end O.J. Howard slipped down the draft and fell in their lap.

And while some were screaming for the Bucs to draft a running back to improve their sad, pop-gun rushing attack, the Bucs figured they couldn’t pass up a talent like Howard.

Outside of some scattered plays here or there — spectacular plays — Howard’s impact has been a lot more hype than substance. Since Howard was drafted, there is no question that Cam Brate has been the Bucs’ most consistent tight end.

Brate even had a touchdown in the NFC title game. Howard? He was injured (again) after suffering a blown Achilles in the fourth game of the season (which may have been his best game the past two years).

One guy burned out from the Howard hype is former Bucs guard and current popular local sports radio personality Ian Beckles. Taking to his podcast, “In the Trenches,” Beckles said it’s time for Howard to man up and produce.

Live up to the hype or be gone.

“I don’t know if he reaches half of the expectations yearly,” Beckles began. “He hasn’t been healthy at all. Last year we had old-ass Rob Gronkowski who was beat up and went through a whole season and didn’t miss a snap. …

“O.J. Howard has not impressed me. In any aspect. What was the best game O.J. Howard has played to this point? He really has not done a whole lot. I don’t ever remember O.J. Howard having one of those breakout games. … And it seems like he has been here for 15 years. And it seems like he is hurt all the damn time.”

If you want to play rear-view mirror logic, sure, the Bucs would have been better off with a running back. But you know what? Joe thinks that’s just water under the bridge. The Bucs got a ring this past winter, even without Howard.

The Vikings (Dalvin Cook) are still looking for one.

Joe also believes Howard was misused last year. He was used primarily as a blocker. His game is running downfield. To use this guy as a blocker, where he’s barely adequate, is a waste of talent.

Rob Gronkowski is blocking now, which should allow Howard to run downfield (think the Chargers game last year). However, there are few grains of sand left in Howard’s hourglass with the Bucs.

Howard is in the final year of his contract. Joe thinks it is fair to say with some big names also having their contracts coming up (Chris Godwin, Carlton Davis, Ryan Jensen, Jason Pierre-Paul, Antonio Brown, Leonard Fournette, Alex Cappa, Ronald Jones) Howard better produce this season if he wants a pricy contract offer from Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht next March.

2021… it’s time.

As always, Beckles welcomes feedback and encourages listeners to submit Bucs questions by e-mailing him at IanBeckles@RadioInfluence.com.

Enjoy an Ira Kaufman Podcast. Click below to listen or subscribe at Apple Podcasts.

38 Responses to ““What Was The Best Game O.J. Howard Has Played?””

  1. Bobby M. Says:

    As a fan of the team, i dont really care about how we use our TEs if the result is contending for the playoffs and possibly a SB. Gruden didn’t use Alstott the way he was accustomed….we also won a SB. Beckles is right…..Howard cant stay on the field. I believe Parcells stated your best ability is availability….that’s the reality of the NFL and for Howard. I dont think Howard was a bad draft pick….I just dont think he’s worked out. Winston was a bad draft pick….we wasted 5 yrs on a player that simply would never be able to execute.

  2. Medicated Pete Says:

    I want this year to his best ever then say bye, bye after Bucs hoist another Lombardi Trophy.

  3. Tackleblockwin Says:

    There is no reason OJ can’t become a better blocker other than he doesn’t want to. It is a mindset thing. Gronk and OJ are similar size. Gronk learned early on that your not getting on the field if you can’t block.

  4. Davenport Says:

    I had high hopes for Howard but all he is now is an insurance policy against Gronkowski being injured and removed from the passing game.

    Would not be surprised to see him traded/cut before September 1

  5. MrSandman Says:

    TE value will increase now that blocking low isn’t allowed

  6. DaBux Says:

    OJ had best show up or he will be gone by the trade deadline. Licht is counting on him paying attention to TB12 and the coaching staff. Let’s see if the kid has enough pride to avoid the “bust” label.

  7. Buczilla Says:

    Howard is kinda like Jameis, in that he’s not a total bust, but there are so many things wrong with him that he may as well be. Hopefully he turns it around this year.

  8. Marine Buc Says:

    It’s very simple at this point – either OJ stays healthy and has a great season or he is gone.

    We use a two tight end set about 25% of our offensive plays. So we definitely need OJ, Brate and Gronk to stay healthy and contribute.

  9. Lou. Says:

    Howard was NOT misused. An all-around in-line tight end with supposedly generational talent HAS to block. That’s all there is to it. If bloggers can learn to code, the Buc offensive players can learn to block. Well.

  10. gp Says:

    At this point, I’d like to see him have a breakout year (or at least last the year) and then go elsewhere in free agency. At least then we may get a comp pick for him and recoup some of our investment.
    I, for one, was pleased with the pick initially because of his reported athleticism.
    Sorry to say, I haven’t seen enough of that athleticism on the field yet. You have to be in the game to produce, and he just hasn’t been able to get into enough games for us.

  11. DoooshLaRue Says:

    He’s no ASJ.

  12. PassingThru Says:

    OJ is a decent insurance policy as Gronk has a history of season-ending injuries. There isn’t really a trade market for OJ:

    1. He makes $6 million which at this time of year limits his market.

    2. He’s coming off an Achilles injury which impacts a player’s explosiveness, hops, and cutting ability.

    3. He only has one year left on that contract.

    4. Good tools, but never delivered a TE1 season.

    The most you could pray for is a fourth round pick and that would only happen if another team’s TE1 suffers a severe injury. OJ is worth more in Tampa Bay as an insurance policy.

    Keep him around as an insurance policy. Who knows, he might have a good season and get Tampa Bay a comp pick.

  13. TOM Says:

    OJ sucks

  14. jimm Says:

    perhaps oj would flourish in a position with less blocking demands. he may make a better wideout where inline blocking isn’t required.

    that’s not happening on this team. if they think hudson is ready for #3 maybe give oj some outside routes during pre-season to give other teams a look and possible trade as wideout.

    i really liked auclair as blocking te … too bad he’s gone.

  15. Joe in Michigan Says:

    OJ Howard reminds me of another TE the Bucs had in the early 2000’s, Rickey Dudley. Dudley was taken 9th overall by the Raiders because he was a good athlete. Far from a great football player, but a vertical threat at the TE position.

  16. Hope springs eternal Says:

    Hate to diss a guy but its hard to be enthusiastic about OJ. Pretty much a bust. Potential vs actual has been negative for too long. Good luck with a fresh start somewhere else.

  17. SC. Bucs Fan Says:

    As pessemistic as I am about Howard I’m more pessemistic out Becomes posting something good about anyone

  18. Buc-em-up84 Says:

    I don’t know what are some of you bucs fans problem with OJ Howard
    At least he is contributing more than Kickstand Ryan Griffin. No one seems to have a problem with him soaking up a seat on the bench

  19. Cobraboy Says:

    So what is a TE? Blocker? Receiver?

    I ask because TE’s who do both at an elite level are rainbow unicorns.

    If a TE is a solid receiver…like Howard…should he be blocking? If a TE is a blocker…like Auclair…should he get passes thrown his way?

    What is Brate? is he a blocker? What about Hudson? A blocker? You want to trust either with Brady’s health? Sealing the edge? Mano-a-mano power blocking?

    How about Kelce? Is he a blocker?

    Seems to me the success of a TE is how coaches match his skill within a scheme. Prior to Arians, I am not sure that has been done.

    And clearly, this coaching staff is very high on Howard, as is Brady.

    Who knows more? This team’s coaching staff…or casual fans constantly ready to cut players who aren’t All-Pro??

    Besides: who are you gonna get for Howard in a trade? And how many nanoseconds would it take for another team to pick him off the waiver wire*?

    *Could be a few, mainly because of his contract.

  20. Marine Buc Says:

    Also noteworthy- I watched OJ’s interview with Pat McAfee and I was a little concerned when Pat asked OJ if he was 100% healthy and ready to go – OJ’s response was “ummm not quite 100% but I’m definitely around 90% or so…

    This response did not sit well with me…

  21. Ward Says:

    rookie year against Buffalo… breakout game

  22. Kobe Faker Says:

    “Kobe Faker was the leader and originator of #FreeOJHoward movement

    OJ Howards best game was 2017 vs Buff Bills

    OJ is a thin ankled receiving TE and not a blocker

    OJ doesn’t have the sturdy stocky build to take the punishment throughout the whole season

    Not a Arians type of TE

    should have traded him for a 2nd round pick

    wrong place at the wrong time”

    Kobe Faker

  23. Joe Says:

    Howard was NOT misused. An all-around in-line tight end with supposedly generational talent HAS to block.

    “In-line” meaning tight to the tackle? You would hope so. Howard simply isn’t a good blocker. So why use him as a blocker? His skill set is getting downfield and mismatches on linebackers and safeties. Seems a terrible waste not to use his strengths. This is known as being “misused.”

    And since he’s not a good blocker, aren’t you screwing up the offense by using him as a blocker?

  24. HeyItsAdam Says:

    Beckles nails it like he’s doing a Home Depot demonstration.

    And yes, we had got a ring WITHOUT Dalvin Cook, but I’ve seen some pathetic losses in my 16 years as a STH. I once saw Dalvin Cook, while sitting on the bench with an injury, put up more fantasy points than Peyton Barber who STARTED a game for the Bucs (literally 0 to -2).

    Who knows what could have happened if we had a legitimate running back to take the heat off Jameis’s arm in 2018 and 2019?

    (PS: My personal rule is you’re not allowed to complain about your team for 5 years after a championship).

  25. Tampabuscsbro Says:

    Also Dalvin Cook wasn’t the right pick either.

    How good your running back is doesn’t matter in the modern NFL. There are two all pro players that went between Howard and cook but no one brings them up. Those were the right pick. The rushing attack was so horrible due to coaching and expecting the muscle hamster who goes out clubbing til 5 AM before games to do anything during that stretch.

    Once again, how good your running back is rarely matters in the modern NFL. Chiefs won a super bowl with a practice squad guy, patriots won with barely anyone that good. Eagles won with a committee to mix up the attack (this method tends to work the best. We won because of Brady, the line and the defense.

    Granted Fournette had a great post season that I am eternally grateful for.

  26. Beeej Says:

    Sure as sh*t, we get rid of Howard and he turns into Travis Kelce

  27. Wesley Says:

    Howard is gonna be a bad ass. Beckles is dead wrong here.

  28. Natural Selection Says:

    Where does the idea OJ is a poor blocker come from?

    PFF had him their #1 overall TE in 2018 with + grades for both run and pass blocking. ESPN advanced stats tabbed him with the best pass blocking grade among all TEs for the 2019 season. Narratives seem to take on a life all of their own. Brate is and has always been a legitimately terrible blocker in all phases. We have assigned OJ one on one pass blocking responsibilities on DE/edge many times through his seasons here. Like people were going gaga for Gronk doing in the playoffs. Coaches don’t put poor blocking TEs with that kind of 1 v 1 blocking responsibility.

  29. ModHairKen Says:

    I hate when I agree with Ian Beckles.

  30. Joe Says:

    What about Hudson?

    What about him?

    If a TE is a blocker…like Auclair…

    That’s just what the Bucs (Arians) would do when they needed to secure a block. They brought in Auclair.

    And clearly, this coaching staff is very high on Howard, as is Brady.

    Not sure at all Arians and company are that high on him. Nowhere nearly as much as Koetter and company were.

    Where does the idea OJ is a poor blocker come from?


    You blew your argument in less than two sentences. Those clowns don’t know sh!t from apple butter about blocking. Says who? Every NFL personnel person Joe has spoken with including those who worked for Super Bowl-winning teams.

    Additionally, Joe can see with his own eyes Howard is not a good blocker.

  31. Natural Selection Says:

    So ESPN advanced stats and PFF both take a back seat to Joe’s “eyeball test”? As well as the coaching staffs who keep putting OJ in 1 on 1 pass blocking assignments with defensive linemen. Good times.

    If you want to claim sources, put at least one name on it. Those “NFL personnel people” must not be designing our blocking schemes…..

  32. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Get em Joe!

  33. Cobraboy Says:

    Unless Arians is a liar, he has been super-high on Howard from the day he arrived at OBP.

    Same with Brady.

    IMO, Howard became even more of a weapon when lined up opposite of Gronkowski in 2-TE sets. By himself, he’s an easier key, as any one TE is…including Kelce in a SB.

  34. JeffreyLane77 Says:

    I can’t really see another team willing to trade for Howard right now? Any trade partner is going want a reworked contract reflecting Howard’s worth right now which isn’t $6million. Howard is going to want a multi year contract on his end. So unless OJ Howard has an impressive preseason I don’t see a trade happening this year. As a fan I will be upset if this team showcases his talent this preseason just to boost his trade value and after waiting this long for him to contribute the team trades him. Let him play out his contract. If he stays healthy and plays well try and bring him back. This should be Howard’s show us what you got year.

  35. Hissylizzard Says:

    Probelm has.been he has been injured and the offesne they ran didnt involve the TE in the passing game as much. They will probably incorporate him more this season. He was great as an extra target at Bama,with Brady, I’m sure they will test his hands and have him blocking for good pass protection ….not.to mention ,Gronk will be better after taking the year off before playing last season

  36. View from 132 Says:

    it amazes me that Ian has the kind of megaphone he does with Bucs fans. He’s a mediocre O-lineman from a terrible Bucs era. Howard will have himself a season. Watch. Gronk will barely play until week 12 or 14… he’s on the roster for the playoffs.

  37. The Red Mirage Says:

    NFW Beej, if there’s one thing Howard has proven it is that he can’t stay on the field. I don’t know what you guys that say he’s going to be great are watching, potential gets you fired, production gets you a contract. He’s never going to do spit in the NFL. Looks like Tarzan plays like Jane.

  38. #1bucsfan Says:

    Man this guy has sooo much talent. Just sucks he can’t stay healthy. Your no good to your team if you have all the skill in the world but yet can’t stay healthy or not throw the dam ball to the other team looking at you jay-miss lol idk what he has to do to be able to stay healthy but hopefully he finds it out and quickly