Prior to their Week 10 home match-up against the Arizona Cardinals, we outlined what Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end O.J. Howard had to do to get back on a career high pace.
For the final eight games, Howard has to average three catches, 49-yards and just about one touchdown in every game for the rest of the season. On Sunday, he had four catches for 47-yards and a score.
So, saying Howard is on track to redeem himself is a given. And it’s a good sign for the Bucs as they move forward seeking to figure out which players are capable of being a part of their future success, and which ones aren’t.
Not only did Howard reach four catches in one game for just the second time this year, he was targeted more in Week 10 than any other week in 2019 thus far.
When he wasn’t catching passes, Howard was heavily involved in the team’s offensive production by protecting his quarterback and helping spring his teammates for big gains.
In Week 10 alone, running back Ronald Jones brought in eight passes for 77-yards, leading the team in receptions on the day and coming in second in yards behind Mike Evans’ 82.
Not only did Jones help lead the team in receiving stats, he matched his reception total from the first eight games of the year in just this one performance. Jones now stands fifth on the team with 16 receptions, and he’s now fourth in yards (201).
Most of his yards and receptions this past Sunday came on screens. And on most - if not all - of those screens, O.J. Howard was downfield making key blocks helping his teammate find space and gain more and more yards as the Cardinals defense consistently struggled.
On other plays, Howard was held in as an in-line blocker to help protect Jameis Winston from the Arizona Cardinals pass rush. Because of Howard’s efforts as a blocker as well as a receiver, Winston had his fourth game in 2019 throwing for at least 350-yards.
As we saw, the Buccaneers needed each of Winston’s 358 yards through the air to pull of their three-point homecoming victory. Howard was every bit as involved in each and every play without recording stats as he was when he did.
It was a strong showing from the third-year tight end, who voiced disappointment himself in his four-game first half performance (Howard missed two games due to injury). His coaches also voiced frustration over Howard’s lack of involvement on the stat sheet, but also voiced optimism.
The optimism came to fruition in Week 10 more than it had before. And for the sake of Howard’s and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ shared futures, they’ll hope to see more of it in Week 11 as they host the NFC South leading, New Orleans Saints.