If there was an award for most valuable team unit, there’d be a two man race between the receivers and the edge rushers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and you’d be hard pressed to convince me that the receivers don’t take home the cake in 2019. What was expected to be a dynamic duo of Mike Evans and Chris Godwin followed by “the other guys” finished as a dynamic unit that featured three receivers finishing with 600 plus yards and 6 plus touchdowns a piece. Let’s jump in and react to what transpired on the gridiron in 2019 for this unit.
Chris Godwin blossomed into everything fans and this front office envisioned and more when the team took him with the 84th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft. Godwin led the team in all three major receiving categories with 86 receptions, 1,333 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns. Godwin was the #2 rated receiver when it came to DYAR as recorded by Football Outsiders with a rating of 433. Godwin caught 72% of the passes thrown his way and finished #1 in the league in DVOA (defensive adjusted value over average per play over an average WR in the same game situations) at 35.6%. Godwin rose to the occasion time and time again in 2019 for this offense.
Mike Evans put in another season that solidified him as a top 5 talent out wide in this league. Despite the season ending a bit too soon, as did Godwin’s, Evans balled out as a whole. Evans finished ranked 7th in DYAR at 303 and finished with a 57% catch rating. Evans was 13th in DVOA at 18.2%. Evans season wasn’t without some negativity however from fans as several occasions his effort was put in to question. After returning to the game footage, I just didn’t see anything that would be a cause for concern and when you take a step back and look at the big picture, Evans put together another great year worth talking positively about. Evans when all was said and done finished with another 8 touchdowns and 1,157 yards receiving while setting some franchise milestones.
Breshad Perriman was the story of the year for this group despite the records Evans set and the year Godwin had. Perriman set career highs in every receiving category this season which all things considered, was an amazing feat in and of itself. The third receiver at one point was written off by nearly all fans, myself included, as someone who should be released for the potential comp pick. All Perriman did was go out and play like a number one receiver down the stretch. Perriman would finish 29th overall in DYAR and 15th overall in DVOA. Those numbers would help the Buccaneers as a whole become the only team with three receivers rated in the top 30 in both categories by Football Outsiders. Finishing with 645 yards and 6 touchdowns is simply amazing when you consider that thru week 12 the receiver had all of 11 receptions for 139 yards and 1 touchdown. Perriman earned himself a hefty pay increase this off-season as he returns to free agency.
With Breshad Perriman making a name for himself, “the other guys” quickly became Justin Watson, Bobo Wilson and Scott Miller.
Watson would end the year with a DYAR of 20 and DVOA of -2.1%. Statistically speaking, it wasn’t much to write home about as the second year receiver finished with 15 receptions, 159 yards and 2 touchdowns. Respectable numbers for a #4 receiver however going into camp, there was an expectation that Watson could push Perriman for the 3rd spot in line behind Evans and Godwin. Watson made strides, but it just hasn’t been enough to feel confident in the receiver heading into the 2020 season.
Scott Miller was a big fan favorite heading into the regular season and boy did he ever fall short of expectations. It really wasn’t Miller’s fault, expectations were out of whack after a good camp and pre-season and the team just couldn’t consistently find a way to get the ball in the receivers hands. It took nearly three quarters of the season before the team found a way to get Miller into a working role but when he struck, he struck big. The rookie finished with 13 catches for 200 yards and a touchdown. Miller graded out poorly as a whole, with a DYAR of -5 and a DVOA of -17.3%.
Bobo Wilson, fan favorite and favorite to hate all wrapped into one it seems. Wilson didn’t finish the season and it was best for both parties to part ways and it just never looked to be working out. Wilson finished with a DVOA of -52.0% and a DYAR of -29. Wilson would only catch a third of his targets for 3 total receptions and 35 yards receiving.
This was a unit worth talking about all year long. From training camp to the finale in week 17, the receiving core produced and produced regularly. One can only wonder what could have been had Jameis Winston lowered that turnover ration a bit more and really figured things out in this offense.
The firepower out wide, without even talking about the tight ends and running backs out of the backfield catching passes, was simply incredible. The greatest receiving core in team history statistically speaking came out of what was expected to be a two man show with some nobodies after that. Funny how a year comes and goes and opinions change.
The front office has some work cut out for them in determining how to approach Breshad Perriman’s free agency and how replaceable his skillset is in this offense. Should Perriman return, this group should be a force for some time.