Separation Stats Favor Tyler Johnson, Russell Gage And Unavailable Bucs

May 24th, 2022

Joe enjoys the NFL’s NextGen data because it’s objective, derived from sensors in equipment and tracked via technology.

There is no clown involved to spin the numbers.

Via NextGen, the NFL tracks “Average Separation,” defined as “the distance (in yards) measured between a WR/TE and the nearest defender at the time of catch or incompletion. Or as Bucco Bruce Arians might say, “it tracks how wide-ass open you get.”

The unsettling thing about the 2021 Bucs numbers is that among their top-3 receives/tight ends when it comes to separation. Two aren’t on the roster and the third, Chris Godwin, won’t be full-go when the season begins.

Here’s the Bucs with the best “Average Separation” in 2021, and Joe threw in newcomer receiver Russell Gage, who was with the Falcons last season.

Rob Gronkowski — 3.4 yards
Antonio Brown — 3.4
Chris Godwin — 3.3
Russell Gage — 3.1
Tyler Johnson — 2.9

Mike Evans — 2.7
Cameron Brate — 2.6

Joe was impressed by Tyler Johnson showing up. Arians often was heard saying last season that his backup receivers need to do a better job getting open. It seems Johnson had success in that area but likely was inconsistent.

As for Gronk leading the way with his slightly plodding style, Joe thinks that speaks to how well Gronk knows the offense and the precision of his route running within it.

32 Responses to “Separation Stats Favor Tyler Johnson, Russell Gage And Unavailable Bucs”

  1. K2 Says:

    It is harder to get separation with double coverage. So, Evans separation numbers, though probably correct, don’t properly reflect is refined route running skill.

    Not surprised by Godwin’s numbers…he’s a monster on the field.

  2. Gofortheface30 Says:

    Great point K2. The day any team rolls coverage to Tyler Johnson will be a first

  3. Cobraboy Says:

    Evans’ wingspan is in excess of his “wide open status”.

    Besides, those stats are when the ball is caught. It does not show how often the receiver is NOT “wide ass open”…where Brady won’t throw him the ball. THAT is what Arians was talking about.

  4. Robert Says:

    so tired of the ME excuses.

    He’s not very fast lol. might be a good TE soon.

  5. AC Says:

    Take catch radius into context and Gronk sits way above the pack, then maybe Godwin, and everyone else is about the same.

  6. #8 Says:


  7. SPARKY Says:

    When I go back and look at Evans catches, most of the time he is not wide a$$ open. Brady seems to have faith in throwing the ball where only Evans can get it, and Mike is the best in the NFL at getting it. Unbelievable how many of Evans catches are with the defense within a yard or closer.

  8. Capt Kidd Says:

    Robert, tell that to Jalen Ramsey. LOL

  9. Mike Says:

    Mike Evans is a beast. His moves, speed and size combination and catch radius is just killer.

  10. Chris Tucker@Apple Roof Cleaning Tampa Says:

    I agree with everyone, Mike Evans is a beast. His wingspan like Cobraboy says is incredible. He made Johnny Manziel in College, not the other way around.

  11. Bucsfanman Says:

    “ME excuses”?!
    Huh? Right. He is the ONLY receiver IN HISTORY to have EIGHT straight 1,000 yard seasons.
    But that’s about it. Other than that he’s pretty turr-a-bull.

  12. geno711 Says:

    @Robert with poor take.

    Here is my take.

    Evans speed is solid and works for this team as it is set up. He runs more deep routes than Godwin, Gronk, Johnson, or AB. Therefore, he is more likely to have not only a DB covering him but some help from a safety. Not every play but more play than the rest of those guys.

    Seems pretty intuitive then that his average separation at time of a pass thrown to him would be less than the other guys.

    Where Evans is elite shows up in the TD catches. His length matters to any football fan that appreciates winning. Please point to me out any other player in the NFL that is as elite as he is in getting contested catches in the red zone for TD’s.

    I will wait.

    I will wait.

    I will wait.

  13. PassingThru Says:

    Separation is an important stat with Brady, he prefers separation versus contested-catch specialists, which is why Landry wasn’t a good fit, except for perhaps work in red zone. Evans is solid, he uses his strength, and athleticism to kill on contested catches, and he’s no slouch when it comes to speed. Gronk’s separation is due to him taking an advantage of LBs, he’s too quick for a LB and it takes more than one DB to take him down. AB got his separation due to crafty route running and moves; sure he’s a headcase, but he’s an elite receiver and elite headcase (such versatility!).

    I’m actually surprised Brate is at 2.6 yards. Brate is smart, he knows how to find the seams in coverage, but he’s s l o w.

  14. Cobraboy Says:

    Evans is so slow he’s caught 1000yds every years he’s been in the NFL.

  15. Biff Barker Says:

    Robert Says:

    so tired of the ME excuses.

    He’s not very fast lol. might be a good TE soon.
    Just because you dont like him doesnt mean 8 consecutive 1,000 yard seasons go away.
    Agree Mike, Beastly HOF Buccaneer in waiting!

  16. Buccos Says:

    AB is good at creating seperation between himself and NFL teams as well.

  17. GOB Says:

    Brady has always been one of the best “accuracy+” throwers in the league. Which is accurate throws to open reciever. He’s also never been out of the top five in “step closing”, which is accuracy throwing to windows with 2 steps separation. Another one is “tight windows” which PFF describes as accurate throws with a defender within an arms length of his target.
    What this all means to me is, if you get NFL open, Brady will find you.

  18. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    There were fewer receptions for TJ…..therefore more margin for variance…..these are sort of like running stats………one large number can throw the average off.

  19. GOB Says:

    TBBF, agreed

  20. SickofLosing Says:

    “Mike evans is slow and might be a tight end soon” lmfao hour fast was Jerry Rice or Tim brown

  21. GOB Says:

    SickofLosing is right. Speed is nice, but it doesn’t always equal separation, or the ability to get open. If it were true, track stars would be superb recievers. We all know how many of them have failed. Football speed is much different than 40 time. A better metric is the three come drill. It’s much more representative of the ability to get open in tight spaces. What Brady loves most, is recievers that can get open quickly. That’s why he loved AB.

  22. TJ Says:

    Like all stats they NEVER tell the entire story. (Too many variables) Godwin had a TON of quick sideline screens where the receiver were ALWAYS at least 5 yards off. Like it was mentioned Evans always was double teamed. Gronk floated and nestled into the soft spot of the field halfway after the play developed. Its hard to determine that stats true value without breaking down the differant types of routes individually as well. Basically it is most valued for traditional dropback play actions etc.

  23. Allbuccedup Says:

    Looks like tyler johnson just needs some more stick um and he will be fine.

  24. Biff Barker Says:

    Pinch yourselves Folks. We were the Yucs.

    But today our main recieving corps is Evans, Godwin and Gronk. All big bodied players who can block, are much faster that it appears, and have a large catch radius.

    WTF, Is this for real? Solid OL blocking for Tom Brady too?

    Also, many players on today’s team are easy to like too.

    This is enough to make us savor the moment. We could be taking a swan dive into the crapper soon enough.

    But before that Bucaroos, lets kick the snot out of NOLA while we have a good team. I hate em.

  25. 1sparkybuc Says:

    I believe Jerry Rice has 11 consecutive 1,000 yard seasons, just not from his rookie year.

  26. SB Says:

    ^^^^ This is true. However, he is the G.O.A.T!
    Mike needs just 4 more to beat him.

  27. Red-sparrow Says:

    Mike Evans ain’t the fastest or the smartest receiver like an Antonio brown in my opinion. However, he’s automatic in the red zone and I think Tom realized his red zone effectiveness and that’s where he trusts Mike the most. Hence why Evans had career highs in touchdowns the past 2 years.

  28. SB Says:

    Red-sparrow Says:
    May 24th, 2022 at 5:51 pm
    Mike Evans ain’t the fastest or the smartest receiver like an Antonio brown in my opinion


    Did you just put ‘Antonio Brown’ and ‘smartest’ in the same sentence?

  29. Defense Rules Says:

    ‘As for Gronk leading the way with his slightly plodding style, Joe thinks that speaks to how well Gronk knows the offense and the precision of his route running within it.’

    Surprised me too Joe, but PERHAPS there’s another explanation. MAYBE defenders were more concerned that Gronk was out there to block them, and didn’t want any part of that action. Personally I’d stay a lot further than 3.4 yds away if I saw Gronk bearing down on me with a head of steam in the open field.

  30. Defense Rules Says:

    Oh and Joe, TJ’s spot on; stats never tell the whole story. Even NextGen stats. The stats you gave were for when the ball was CAUGHT. QBs like Tom Brady are well known for hitting guys on the fly & ‘throwing receivers open’.

    Gronk’s a great example. Seen many times when TB12 would put the ball so high that even Gronk had to fully extend to catch it; defenders never had a chance. At that point, the ball very well might’ve been 3.4 yds from the defender even if the defender was within a yard of Gronk when he ‘launched’ for the ball. Probably similar situation with ME13. Size matters when 6’6″ receivers like Gronk are going against 5’9″ DBs.

  31. Eddie Marz Says:

    All I know is I’m very very happy Mike Evans is a Buc. Some of you just don’t appreciate how good he is.GOBUCS!

  32. Mikejp Says:

    Joe, do you if the Nextgen stats has data of “longest separation of each play for each player “, which is a better indicator for receivers. For example, Tyler only managed to separate 3 yard at 10% of his plays and Tom threw him all, then Tyler averages 3 yards at receiving. However, he is too bad for most of the time. While Tom threw balls to Mike even he separates only 2 yards.