Ever since Mike Evans was drafted by the Buccaneers in 2014, we’ve known what a special receiver he is. Chris Godwin looked like a steal in 2017, and he cemented his status as one in 2018. But man, how easy is it to overlook the fact that Tampa Bay now has a 1-2 punch at receiver that can match up with the top two on any other team in the league?
That’s what the Bucs have now. With DeSean Jackson off to Philadelphia, Godwin slides up to that No. 2 role and forms a formidable duo with Evans. In all honesty, the two felt like a 1-2 last year, but Jackson was in the mix as the No. 2 guy frequently enough to say otherwise. But now, Jameis Winston has a chance to work with Evans and Godwin as his top two full-time. That should be a major advantage for the 25-year-old quarterback as he plays out the fifth-year option on his contract in 2019. @PFF_Buccaneers provides some perspective-giving stats to back up just how good of a tandem Evans and Godwin are:
Wanna know how to make an @NFL QB's life easier?— PFF TB Buccaneers (@PFF_Buccaneers) July 3, 2019
Get a WR tandem like the @Buccaneers have.
Here is their 2018 NFL passer rating when targeted:
Chris Godwin - 111.1
Mike Evans - 97.3
NFL WR avg - 89.3
Photo: Kim Klement - @usatodaysports pic.twitter.com/VskRSgInH3
As the tweet points out, the league average for receivers’ passer rating when targeted in 2018 was 89.3. To have TWO receivers well above that league average is almost an embarrassment of riches.
Godwin’s 111.1 is beyond impressive, especially when you consider the fact that last year was his first full year of meaningful snaps in the NFL. As for Evans? Mike Evans is Mike Evans. He’s talented, reliable and consistent. Having Evans, who is one of the league’s elite receivers, and a rising star in Godwin should be inviting to any quarterback. And that’s without getting any deeper into Tampa Bay’s weapons, such as tight end O.J. Howard.
So, as Winston heads into a crucial year, the passing game is set up to go his way. A duo like Evans and Godwin isn’t easy to come by. Weapons like Howard, Cameron Brate and newcomer Breshad Perriman only add to the potential for explosiveness through the air. As for the offense as a whole? The backfield will be serviceable. The offensive line might not be where everyone wants it to be, but Winston has made do with inefficiency up front in past years.
This offense, under the direction of Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich, is set up for Winston to do big things in 2019. He has a coaching staff that believes in him and a wealth of options to distribute the ball to. It’s time for him — and the Bucs — to step up to the next level.