Russell Gage Is “Vastly Overqualified”

July 25th, 2022

High praise.

So, when Bucs receiver Chris Godwin gets back to 100 percent, it appears the Bucs’ passing offense will be as good or better than last season’s dominant group.

That seems to be the conclusion drawn by Bryan Knowles of Football Outsiders.

Knowles typed up the Bucs chapter in the Football Outsiders 2022 Almanac. And there, Knowles went into a deep analysis of new receiver Russell Gage, as can be expected from the stat-geeky site.

Simply put, Knowles believes when Godwin returns healthy, Gage will be play a role beneath his skillset.

And Joe takes that to mean the Bucs may not miss furniture-tossing, bicycle-throwing, V-card-forging quitter Antonio Brown.

Tampa Bay has declared open season on the slots behind Evans and Godwin with no clear favorite as to who the third receiver will be. But Brady went out and specifically called Russell Gage to get him to join the team, which is a fairly good indicator that he’ll be the first guy up. Gage is vastly overqualified as a third receiver; he’s an excellent route-runner who consistently finds a way to get open in the intermediate areas of the field. Gage’s most common routes in Atlanta were slants, curls, and outs—those were 40% of his targets, with an average target depth of 6.4 yards. We expect that aDOT to go up in Tampa Bay’s more vertical offense, but he’ll likely still be the guy catching the shortest passes when everyone’s up to full speed, with Godwin’s depth of target going back to double digits as it was before Brown came along.

Well, if Gage consistently finds a way to get open, rest assured the laser-accurate arm of Tom Brady will find him, Joe’s confident typing that.

Remember what Adam Rank of said about Brady and slot receivers; he always makes them look better. Gage will be that guy until Godwin returns.

Joe, in theory, sees Gage being just like Brown was with the Bucs. When Godwin returns, Gage will be the No. 3 receiver, barring injuries. So too was Brown despite the fact he had truly sick skills.

40 Responses to “Russell Gage Is “Vastly Overqualified””

  1. Goatfarmer Says:

    No one will ever be a better route runner than Antonio Brown, but Gage gets open and gets separation, so his route running is obviously plenty good enough. I’m excited to see him operate.

  2. mark2001 Says:

    I see no problem with having our 1.2.3 receivers actually 1a, 1b, and 1c receivers.

  3. Bucsfan13 Says:

    Joe was panicking about the loss of offensive production with the loss of Gronk, but now the passing offense will be the same or better than last year? Which is it? I think Gage will be fine, but he’s no AB. AB might be a head case, but at one point he was consistently the best WR in the league. Gage is nowhere near AB’s class in route running. There’s a reason why Brady attached to him after only playing one game with him in NE. AB had a great football IQ. AB was also in Brady’s trust circle. We have no idea if Gage will earn his trust. I know AB quit on the team, but let’s not pretend that AB will be easily replaced. If the passing offense will be better, who’s replacing Gronk’s production?

  4. glen k mattingly Says:

    Let’s not forget Scotty Miller. That kid can jet.

  5. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Gage is definitely a #2 WR on most teams…….if Evans or Godwin are injured, Gage can mostly fill the void….

    So….who is our #4?,,,,,,,,,My vote goes to Perriman….but we have Miller, Johnson, Grayson & Darden…..

    Here’s hoping Darden makes a big leap this year.

  6. mark2001 Says:

    Tampabay… I said 1c, because I think he might be as good as many 1b receivers, and at worst a 2.

  7. Casual Observer Says:

    TBBF – Darden has looked like a bust to me. Not good on returns. Hope I’m wrong.

  8. Joe Says:

    Joe was panicking about the loss of offensive production with the loss of Gronk, but now the passing offense will be the same or better than last year? Which is it?

    You need help with reading comprehension. This post is the analysis from Bryan Knowles of Football Outsiders (see the link in the story). Also, this story is specifically about the wide receivers (not including tight ends).

    Yes, Joe is very concerned about the loss of Gronk. Joe is not Bryan Knowles.

  9. Joe Says:

    Let’s not forget Scotty Miller. That kid can jet.

    If running fast is all it took, dudes in the Olympics would be on NFL teams. Joe just saw over the weekend a documentary on Steve Largent. Dude couldn’t run a lick. When he retired, he held every receiving record in the NFL

    John Ross ran fast too. What’s he doing these days?

  10. Dooley Says:

    Doesn’t have to be AB, just be able to do what we asked of AB as the 2nd/3rd option and that’s being a contributor no matter what route you get off of the tree on a given play. Gage proved in ATL he can be a viable target in the screen/short pass game, over the middle on the hashes(Brady loves those deep breaking routes over the middle) and has flashed the ability to beat certain coverages deep. Gage didn’t score on us last season, but he did work on our mash unit secondary to the tune of 16 catches on 19 targets for +150 yards.

  11. mark2001 Says:

    Dooley.. point well taken. What really hurt us last year was Godwin going down, and Brown using it as a lever to play his prima donna card.

  12. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Out of the 4-#4 WRs listed above, my money is on Grayson.

  13. AtticusFlinch Says:

    Great take. The only thing keeping Gage from being the Bucs’ true “possession” receiver who consisrently moves the chains (at least until Godwin is back 100% and takes the slot position back again), is the needed mind-melding process between he and Tom Brady. The off-season has always been the time when Brady establishes the rapport and trust with his new receivers and that hasn’t happened yet with Gage, to my knowledge. So expect a lot of private practices that Brady will likely set up with Gage along with Kyle Rudolph and perhaps the other two rookie TEs. Gage’s success will depend on route timing, body position at the catch, and other GOAT expectations like the ability to telepathically communicate with Brady after each huddle breaks. As we’ve seen with Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, and the other Buc receivers not named Gronk or AB, truly getting on the same page with the GOAT takes a boatload of quality time together outside of Training Camp.

  14. mark2001 Says:

    Doosh… I wondered where Graysons name went. I don’t know if he is as good as a healthy Scotty Miller, but he certainly proved his worth last year.

  15. Upstate NY BUC Says:

    Still like Tyler Johnson’s skillset, just needs to focus on his hands… his blocking skills are solid! I hope he turns some heads in camp. Go Bucs.

  16. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Here is the good thing… argument can be made as to who is our #4…..that means we have a good #5, 6

  17. Señor Harry in Costa Rica Says:

    As Dooley said, Gage does not have to be as good as AB, and thank God, not as unstable and loco. Once Godwin is in game shape we have a starting WR group (plus Lombardi Lenny) that will be very difficult to cover, in fact, impossible for most teams.

  18. Bucs Win Says:

    Russell Gage is going to ball out because Tom Brady.

  19. Dooley Says:


    Same here. Johnson’s been on the back burner in terms of reps since his rookie year and coming into camp out of shape last off-season didn’t help, but one of the first few workout vids Fournette posted about a month ago I saw Johnson was in the building with Lobster Roll Lenny puttin in work. Ty Johnson’s size and the body control he showed as a primary target in college hasn’t translated to his time as a pro, but it’s good to keep in mind he’s been on a limited rep regiment with the talent we’ve had at WR the last two seasons. One of a handful of WRs I hope to here gets repped until he pukes once the joint practices roll around as they’ll be as close to game reps w/o the stakes of a game being on the line.

  20. sasquatch Says:

    I can say personally, I will not miss AB. And the team won’t either. They adapt.

  21. sasquatch Says:

    Joe Says:
    July 25th, 2022 at 10:49 am

    You need help with reading comprehension. This post is the analysis from Bryan Knowles of Football Outsiders (see the link in the story). Also, this story is specifically about the wide receivers (not including tight ends).

    Yes, Joe is very concerned about the loss of Gronk. Joe is not Bryan Knowles.

    Burn! 🤣🤣🤣

  22. Alstott up the gut Says:

    When Godwin went down and AB walked away (I was at that game 🤦🏻‍♂️), it became so clear how important those losses were to that season. Hate the talk of some unknown injury, but adding Gage might be the most important offseason move this year. This will give Brady the options he needs.

    PS- I will miss Gronk as much as everyone else, but just remember how impactful Brate was during our playoff run 2 years ago. I think Brady knows what he has in him as well.

  23. GOB Says:

    The only drawback to Gage is his size. He’s very slight, and can’t play outside. AB could play all over the field. Gage is a definite downgrade from AB. Brady knows exactly how to use pure slot receivers. Welker and Edelman couldn’t play outside either, and it didn’t matter.

    In my opinion, the success of the passing game hinges on Gage. If indeed Brady can turn him into an undefendable short yardage monster, it will open things up for others. Teams would often bracket Welker and Edelman, allowing recievers to work behind the linebackers and in front of the safety. Brady is a master at using his eyes to hold defenders.

  24. Kody Says:

    Let’s not forget how awesome Rachaad White is as a receiving back. If he gets snaps, he could be a factor in the passing game as well. Love having backs with hands as good as WRs.

  25. D-Rok Says:


    For Atl last year, Gage played 202 snaps in the slot, and 203 snaps out wide. So, he did play outside for 50% of his snaps. Thus, I’m confused by your comment that he can’t play outside. He already done did that last year.

    Verily, if Godwin mans the slot upon his healthy return, and Evans plays outside, does this mean Gage will be the other outside WR opposite Evans? Or, will Gage be the 2nd slot in a 4 WR set?

  26. Goatfarmer Says:

    White hasn’t played a down in the NFL. It’s hilarious to read how people are anointing him as the new Marshall Faulk. He’ll be lucky to have the career of Charles Sims and I’d be happy with that.

  27. D-Rok Says:

    Info found on Draftsharks website, for perspective:

    “I think he’s a guy that can play 3 positions,” new HC Todd Bowles said after the team signed Gage. “He can play outside or he can play inside. He’s tough. He’s scrappy. He’s quick. He’s got very good hands, and he’s a competitor.”

    Last year found Gage averaging 9.45 yards per target outside, according to PFF numbers, vs. 6.98 in the slot. His YPT in the slot actually checked in higher than outside each of the previous 2 years, though. For the past 3 years combined, Gage averaged 7.76 per target outside and 7.18 per target inside.

    When Godwin, Evans and Antonio Brown were all on the field in 2020, the target distribution went: Evans 19.5%, Godwin 18.9%, Brown 15.7%.

  28. Dooley Says:


    That’s why I try not to pigeon hole our WRs(safeties too) as Gage & Godwin are interchangeable in terms of playing the X/Y/Z when we put 3 WRs on the grass. Godwin made teams pay being what Larry Fitzgerald was for Arians’ offense in 2016 & 2017, a big sure handed WR that got rewarded for his blocking prowess by being the primary target in the middle of the field. Our guy Godwin just got the role much earlier in his career. Now is Gage as good an open field blocker as Godwin? IDK, but I’m sure we’ll find out and I wouldn’t be shocked if Tyler Johnson also gets tasked to help prop up that role even after Godwin does returns.

  29. GOB Says:

    D-Rok, yes he did play outside quite a bit, but look at the breakdown. He’s done most of his damage as a pure slot receiver. I seriously doubt he’ll be playing much at all on the outside this year. When Atlanta put him outside, it was almost always with Pitts running corner routes, so he took most of the coverage with him. The bucs don’t have a TE even close to Pitts ability. So I suspect Brady will want him purely in the slot. Even with the number of outside snaps he had last year, I still contend he’s too slight to be an effective outside reciever, particularly in this offense.

  30. D-Rok Says:

    OK I follow your thinking, GOB. What he did in Atl may not translate exactly to our offense. I think he’s a great piece though, especially with Gronk’s status retired-maybe.

    Gage sure seems to be Welker/Edelman-esque as a projection into this offense. Makes sense given the make-up and talents of skill players on offense. I think he will add another dimension, making us less predictable on O.

  31. GOB Says:

    Like I said D-Rok, I think he’s the key to the passing game. I’m in no way poo pooing his talent. Gage is a fine player, and in Brady’s capable hands, I’m excited to see what should come. I still think they’re a weapon short. I think Licht is done, so a lot will depend on what Godwin can contribute. If they can get 80-85% of him by December, they should be fine. I just wouldn’t expect the same explosive passing game we saw last year. I think they go as far as the defense takes them.

  32. ChiBuc Says:

    D-Rok bringing the stats. Nice posts.

    GOB, I’m a lil confused by your comment…”The only drawback to Gage is his size. He’s very slight, and can’t play outside. AB could play all over the field.” I understand your thought process why he may play less outside (reading comprehension 101 with professor JBF), but size doesn’t seem like the best argument.

    Height: RG-6′, AB-5’10”
    Weight: RG-186 lb, AB-185 lb
    Arm length: RG-33″, AB-31″

    RG is a tad slight, but pretty comparable to AB size-wise

  33. Rod Munch Says:

    I read today that Godwin might actually be ready to go for week 1, I’ll be floored if that’s the case, i figured week 6 was more likely. That is fantastic news if true, and if Godwin is in fact fully healthy and not OJ-level “healthy”. I can’t imagine the Bucs would let him back out there unless he’s fully healed up, no reason to rush him back early if there are questions. Regardless, this is great news.

  34. Rod Munch Says:

    As for Gage playing outside… who cares? That’s why they’re bringing back Perriman. If Godwin is out, then Gage will play in the slot, if Godwin is healthy, the Bucs will run more 4-WR sets I’d guess since they like to keep Godwin in the slot, although there’s no reason he can’t play outside like he did earlier in his career and was successful at it.

    Also size has nothing to do with playing outside. D-Jax was a beast outside and he’s a tiny little feller. Also AB played outside when Godwin was in the slot and had a ton of success here in limited snaps.

  35. Anonymous Says:

    The question is who replaces the production left on the table due to the absence of Godwin & Gronk + AB! ….Rachaad (OJ) White will be a part of the solution to the problem and Gage will do what Gage does. It is of my opinion that Grayson, Perriman and Johnson are all bubble players, this new group of rookie wide receivers are not only fast but can really play this game, I expect at least 1 maybe 2 to make the final roster and at least 2 on the practice squad! Training Camp will separate the players from the track stars Scotty! Remember this is a new COACH ….Bowles the title is yours! …DO YOUR THANG!!

  36. steele Says:

    They’ll have plenty of flexibility once Godwin is back.

  37. ChiBuc Says:

    So many eager hands to receive limited balls, it’s like a Thai “massage” parlor.

  38. David Says:

    We all know The top three receivers.

    I’m excited to see if Miller is healthy and can do more with his added weight.
    I’m excited to see if Grayson keeps developing because he’s as fast as Scotty but looks like he can run better routes.
    Tyler Johnson is the most talented of the bunch… If he could pull his head out and make all the catches.
    Perriman is the older most consistent of the bunch but probably has the least amount of upside.
    We’ll see if Darden with his added weight takes a big leap forward.

    Anyway you look at it the Buccaneers have a pretty good stable of receivers for 4-6.

  39. DG060 Says:

    I think Gage is going to go off with or without CG being at 100%.
    He’s that good.

  40. William Walls Says:

    With Godwin and Gage, we have two WRs that are as effective on the outside as they are in the slot (which is to say, very). How are DCs going to scheme against that? I think we can already guess the answer: Not very well.