Will The Day Ever Come For O.J. Howard And The Bucs?

August 24th, 2021

O.J. Howard and Metallica.

Joe isn’t much of a Metallica fan. In fact, Joe’s not a Metallica fan. Maybe Joe likes three of their songs. The rest? Meh.

Joe’s just not a speed metal guy.

So yesterday while Joe was driving into One Buc Palace, on the radio was one of the few Metallica songs Joe likes. “The Day That Never Comes.”

And Joe thought of Bucs tight end O.J. Howard.

Howard, in the Bucs’ preseason game last week against the Titans, didn’t look anything like the 19th overall pick in the 2017 draft. He looked slow. And his hands were, well, just like too many times in the past: inconsistent.

And with the Bucs starters largely getting the night off (Jason Pierre-Paul likely needed it as he mowed his lawn that afternoon on a brutally hot summer day), it was weird seeing Howard playing with guys who next month will be accountants, Amazon drivers, high school history teachers and Geek Squad technicians.

It sort of reminded Joe of Noah Spence two years ago. He was playing with camp meat in the fourth quarter of the fourth preseason game.

A lot of folks this spring and summer automatically penciled in Howard as being fit (as always) coming back from a blown Achilles. He looked far from it last week.

Joe always had in the back of his mind just how serious of an injury a destroyed Achilles is. It killed Earnest Graham’s career.

Howard at times has splashed and flashed. Too often, he’s been inconsistent or just plain bad (his Magic Johnson stunt of a behind-the-back-pass for an interception springs to mind — but damn that Jameis and his picks). Howard is nowhere close to the hype entering the draft where people projected him to be a combination of Kellen Winslow, Sr., Mike Ditka and Tony Gonzalez.

While there is no doubt that Howard has talent and a skill set, Cam Brate has been way more consistent. And we must remember the Bucs won a Super Bowl without Howard.

So as Joe was listening to “The Day That Never Comes,” Joe wondered if Howard, who is in the last year of his Bucs contract, may finally reach his potential? Just not with the Bucs?

You know, waiting on the day Howard reaches his full potential with the Bucs is a day that never comes?

Could it be that Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht (he’s a Metallica fan), at the end of this season, channels Metallica’s cover of Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” — and turns the page on a former first-round draft pick who never met the lofty goals so many envisioned for him with his original team?

39 Responses to “Will The Day Ever Come For O.J. Howard And The Bucs?”

  1. Medicated Pete Says:

    Turn the Page is such a beautiful song but it’s gonna be a bitter sweet ending for OJ. I don’t see any circumstance in which he returns

  2. Joe Says:

    I don’t see any circumstance in which he returns

    He might come back at a discount. Who else is going to cut him a fat check unless he blows up this year?

  3. Christopher Schiefen Says:

    😅 Metallica hasn’t been speed metal since about 1983. I do wonder what kind of music the Joes are into.

  4. Bucschamp Says:

    Sad but true Joe sad but true

  5. Rod Munch Says:

    God, it’s like the people need someone new to hate each year. Howard, when healthy, had mostly been effective. 2019 was by far his worst year, but a lot of that had to do with Arians usage of the TE and his refusal to use any of Howards talent. Last year, 2020, OJ was playing great and out producing Gronk pretty easily. Then he got hurt, with a major injury. It used to be you’d be out a year with his injury, then you still wouldn’t be back to speed for another 3-6 months after that. Yes, surgery has gotten better and he’s back sooner now, but even if you get back sooner, you still need some time to knock the rust off and get back up to speed.

    Personally I don’t like rooting against high draft picks by the Bucs the way so many people do around here. It’s like they NEED to see people fail to justify their miserable existence, and if someone who a stud can’t get it done, it helps them explain to their wife why the job at Publix isn’t a failure.

    In any case if Brate can block better than OJ, then OJ loses his job. It’s up to OJ to continue to get better as he comes back from a major injury. Lets see where we are in another few weeks since it’s obvious OJ isn’t 100% right now.

  6. Rod Munch Says:

    I don’t know if Sean Payton was having a legit QB competition or not, but if he was going to start Hill, Winston completely screwed up his plans tonight.

    9/10, 123 yards, 2 TDs…

    Now, if you want to talk about OJ… what if the Bucs had dumped OJ and used his $6m, plus Gabbert’s $1m, and used some salary cap trickery, and got Winston to backup Brady. Now that I could get behind. This team isn’t winning more than 3 games if anything happens to Brady and we’re needing Gabbert to start.

  7. Joe Says:

    and got Winston to backup Brady

    See where you are going there. Winston learns how to be a pro quarterback by watching Brady and groom Winston to take over when Tommy retires.

    Bbbuuuttt… imagine just how uncomfortable that would be for all parties. For five years you built up a guy as being the savior and then you tell him (after he throws for 5,000 yards), “You are going to the bench to learn from Brady and maybe in X-years you will start again.” You’re begging for a split locker room. No one knows how Winston would have reacted to that.

    You gotta go cold turkey which is what the Bucs did. And it worked out.

  8. unbelievable Says:

    I had a similar thought, and commented about it during the preseason game:

    My thought is that he plays this season and is never quite healthy, we end up parting ways, and then he finally realizes his full potential somewhere else and becomes a beast.

    That said, I do think there is some truth to the notion that maybe he doesn’t really love the grind of football. Too many times in years past he should have ran someone over with his size and speed, but did not. That said, he did appear to be playing very well last season before injury…

  9. Crickett Baker Says:

    Yeah..Winston threw for two touchdowns to a terrific receiver that was both times darn well covered. If it went slightly different, both of those touchdown passes could have easily been interceptions. I hope I’m wrong because all I’ve said about JW being great after Brees’ tutelage will make me a laughing stock from my friends, if so.

  10. gotbbucs Says:

    Even when healthy, there’s just always been something about Howard that doesn’t pass the eye test for me. He’s just such a rigid athlete, there just doesn’t seem to be any bend to him. Every movement is really tight and robotic and it makes him look like he’s laboring no matter what he’s doing out there.
    It’s just odd, because he tested well at the combine, but it just isn’t translating to the football field.
    He moves kind of the same way that I used to view Gerald McCoy, he could usually get to where he was supposed to be but his lack of bend and flexibility always kept him from completing the play all the way through. This is why I would call both of them stiffs.

  11. dmatt Says:

    I agree, tooooo many times he should have ran somebody over with his size and speed, but it ain’t happening wit OJ. U either have it or u don’t n after 4 inconsistent years, he don’t. I watched the replay of Bucs vs Steelers Monday night game 2018 n with about 6:25 in the fourth quarter Fitzpatrick threw a short dump off pass to OJ, he was running in the open field n just flat out laid down to avoid a tackle from a 217 pound safety. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. He flat out gave up. This was as the Bucs were trying to make a comeback to win the game. He also dropped a pass right in his hand. Now is the time to sever ties with him. I’ve seen enough of his garbage.

  12. D-Rome Says:

    Great article on Howard. He’s a bust like Jameis was a bust. When it comes down to it who would you rather have catching the football, Howard or Brate? My pick is Brate.

  13. D-Rome Says:

    Now, if you want to talk about OJ… what if the Bucs had dumped OJ and used his $6m, plus Gabbert’s $1m, and used some salary cap trickery, and got Winston to backup Brady.

    Dumb. That’s like your wife divorcing you for another man but she invited you back so you can learn to be a better man from her new lover.

    We’ve seen this same old song and dance with Jay-Miss. He threw into traffic the other night and got lucky. Most of the time those are INTs. We watched this for 5 years. He’s a bust.

  14. Rod Munch Says:

    Joe – But Joe, the reason I bring it all up is Winston did some sort of post or something saying something like, ‘you can’t be mad for being replaced by the GOAT’ — and he was OK to take less money to go to NO and take that backup spot.

    Again, I always thought it was highly unlikely, but I really do think it’s something that the Bucs could have pursed. Think of this, Brady plays for 2-more years and retires, and lets say Winston stuck around, he’d still only be 29 – and with his arm and size, he’s someone that will be in the NFL until they’re 40, at least.

    Again, it was a dream scenario and I certainly can’t complain about what we got in 2020.

    For Winston, I really wish he had went to an AFC team so I could boot for him all season.

  15. AKicknTheBucNuts Says:

    Trade Time.

  16. Jaymiss Pick6 Again Says:

    Speaking of Noah Spence – he is a Bengal now. Dude just won’t go away.

  17. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Tanner Hudson > OJ

  18. Youngbucs Says:

    Rod get a grip it was time to move on from Winston. He still writing his story sit back and let’s watch it play out.

  19. Joe in Michigan Says:

    I remember the Bears game, when the Bucs were trying to get the ball to Tanner Hudson for unknown reasons (he’s slow with inconsistent hands), thinking that OJ Howard would’ve at least been able to get open.

  20. Chris l Says:

    He hasn’t been good and yes that play with the puck wasn’t jameis’ fault but at what point are you going to get over jameis or will the day never come like the song? The guy showed some flashes but never good enough to be a winner. Turnovers lose games plain and simple. The guy embarrassed the franchise. We have a true winner now and thank the heavens for mr Brady!!

  21. Joe in Michigan Says:

    OJ has inconsistent hands, too.

  22. Wild Bill Says:

    OJ on injured reserve? The case could be made.

  23. allbuccedup Says:

    They need to play OJ a lot in the last preseason game throw about a dozen passes at him hopefully he will catch 7 or 8 for 100 yards then trade him the next day while the skillets hot.

  24. SlyPirate Says:

    The best ability is availability.

    Brady said it takes years to develop rapport with a QB. Cannot stay healthy = Cannot develop.

    Move on.

  25. LJS4th Says:

    OJ was a luxury pick at the time. We had Cam Brate who was doing well and who is still better than OJ has shown. Overall it was a wasted pick.

  26. SOEbuc Says:

    Joes a Creed fan lol. Two preseason games people. They didn’t drop Godwin after a few drops in the playoffs. OJ isn’t going anywhere. This year at least so what’s the point in talking about it. Let’s wait and see if he can produce in the regular season.

    The funny thing is analysts all over rave about OJ Howard returning to the Bucs offense and not others like Vita Vea playing healthy in a regular season. Vea might have produced that pass rush that won us the NFCC and Super Bowl.

  27. PassingThru Says:

    There was no way Winston would agree to backup Brady this season. In New Orleans he know he was the presumptive starter, Hill is just a very good gadget player. Winston wanted a huge contact, to the tune of $30 million to $35 million, and he’s still looking for that payday. He ain’t going the make that payday playing second string QB behind a guy who isn’t expected to retire for at least two (and possibly more) seasons. In NO Winston has the opportunity to rehabilitate his image and perhaps game.

  28. Joe in Michigan Says:

    allbuccedup Says:
    August 24th, 2021 at 7:53 am
    They need to play OJ a lot in the last preseason game throw about a dozen passes at him hopefully he will catch 7 or 8 for 100 yards then trade him the next day while the skillets hot.
    All that for a conditional 6th or 7th Round pick?

  29. PassingThru Says:

    In terms of OJ, folks are understandably bitter about two SUNK costs:

    1. The sunk cost of a first round pick.

    2. The sunk cost of his final option year which is a very pricey $6 million. That money could have been used elsewhere, perhaps for CB depth, OL depth or buttressing that feeble special teams with a couple of ST specialists (they tend to be cheap). That $6 million is pure cap space eater too, it’s lost whether you keep him or toss him to the sharks.

    I’m also not confident that OJ will be the same player. TE is a weird position, there’s the physical blocking component that relies on strength and leverage that will not be affected by the Achilles injury. However the receiving component might be affected as OJ will lose some degree of explosiveness and leaping ability. We just don’t know how much of the latter this injury will take from his game.

  30. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Rod Munch Says:
    August 24th, 2021 at 12:46 am
    Personally I don’t like rooting against high draft picks by the Bucs the way so many people do around here. It’s like they NEED to see people fail to justify their miserable existence.
    I always root for Bucs players, no matter where they were drafted, until it’s proven that they’re not good at football. VH3, for instance, proved it was time for the Bucs to move on from him. Is it OJ’s time to follow in the footsteps of Winslow and ASJ and join the NY Jets? We’ll see.

  31. Aceofaerospace Says:

    Still longing for Mr Pick-6, even after the Bucs win another Super Bowl and are the favorites to repeat, because Mr Pick-6 had a great preseason quarter against a team that finished last year at 1-15. Pathetic. Let it go. Mr Pick-6 will never be trusted to not throw a winnable game away. He’s just to ignorant and stubborn. He doesn’t think there is ever a pass he can’t complete. Saints 7-10.

  32. BradyBucs Says:

    ROD – You must be kidding about bringing Winston back to backup Brady.

    It would be a TERRIBLE decision for many reasons…

    1. Winston clearly doesn’t fit the CULTURE that the team now has under Brady. There’s no over-the-top dancing and other antics that Winston is known for. It’s more about being professional, being prepared, and executing and doing your job on the field.

    2. If Brady ever struggled in a game or ever threw some interceptions, you’d have a small group of adamant Winston fans calling for Winston to come into the game. This would be very disruptive to the team.

    3. The Bucs organization already put so much behind Winston for 5 years. Making him the #1 overall pick and ‘savior’ of the franchise. Even being patient with him when we screwed up with the Uber drive thing. They gave him plenty of chances and decided it was best to move on — which results in a Super Bowl.

    There’s no way in hell they’re bringing Winston back. Too many negatives compared to any potential upsides. Gabbert is just fine as a half-decent backup. Almost all NFL teams don’t have some stud backup QB due to the salary cap. You just have to hope your starter doesn’t get hurt. That’s just the nature of the game. Any team gets worse if something happens to their starter.

    Gabbert will be at least ‘serviceable’ if he had to come in and play, and Trask will continue to develop and also one day be a decent go-to option at QB.

  33. BradyBucs Says:

    AS FOR OJ,

    He lacks explosiveness of the line. He should be dominating his cover man on passing routes. He was recently playing against 3rd and 4th string players that won’t even make an NFL roster. He should have been embarrassing them. But that didn’t happen… in, OJ often embarrassed himself with dropping balls that hit him right in the hands.

    Hudson shows more HEART and better hands than OJ does. OJ needs more of what Hudson has.

  34. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I hate to give up on OJ, but he cannot help the team if he is never available due to injury…I mean, he’s as fragile as Blaine Gabbert.

    We have our tight end. Had him before drafting OJ and though we should consider a younger guy as well, there is no question who our starting tight ends should be.

  35. TOM Says:

    Now we know why so many teams passed on him & the Bucs got suckered in. IMO he should be traded or cut.

  36. Bradinator Says:

    The bests ability is still availability. No matter how good we think he could be, if he can’t get on the field, we’ll never know. Maybe a trade flier on him at this point?

  37. GhostofSchiano Says:

    Whatever team winds up with Howard or wherever he may roam,
    It will be a wasted draft pick, sad but true,
    Jason Licht proving he is not perfect, no Master of Puppets,
    But in the end the Bucs are still number ONE

  38. Tony1775 Says:

    Keep Tanner Hudson trade Howard for 6th rd pick….

  39. Buczilla Says:

    Howard is not a good player. Simple as that, turn the page.