For much of the season O.J. Howard’s use has been questioned, and arguably so. His abilities as a blocker are elite for his position, but when you select a tight end at 19th in the draft you’re selecting him to be a game-changer, a downfield weapon, a guy like George Kittle, Greg Olsen or Jimmy Graham.

Through six games Howard has been targeted just 18 times, bringing in 13 receptions for 176 yards. In three of those games Howard has fewer than three receptions and he’s eclipsed 35 yards receiving just once.

“Part of it’s game planning, part of it’s opportunities in the game,” Bruce Arians said on Wednesday. “And he’s got to catch them, he dropped two balls last week. That hurts. Seeing a [hot read], catching it and getting 15 yards is big but the other thing is opportunities. A lot of the stuff that we’ve had for him in the red zone just hasn’t happened. We go into the game with 100-something plays and the game dictates what happens sometimes. Part of the time, what we have game planned for him, they take away.”

Wide receiver Mike Evans emphasized the effort that defenses have made to try and neutralize the dangerous tight end.

“Just keep going, he’s a hell of a player,” Evans said. “In one-on-one, nobody can really stop him. The teams have been doing a good job of keying in on me and him as well but we just got to do what we can to get O.J. the ball. He’s one of our best players on offense and I think we can get him the ball a little bit more.”

Quarterback Jameis Winston was also asked on Wednesday about what defenses have done to limit Howard’s damage and, like an echo through One Buc Place, talked about the factors that have gone into his lack of production.

“I can see that they get a lot of hands on O.J.,” Winston said. “O.J.’s been in a lot of positions where he’s attached to the line of scrimmage so every chance they get they’re whacking him, they’re getting their hands on him and trying to slow down his tempo. We’re going to get O.J. the ball… it’s going to happen.”

Howard isn’t worried about his usage though, he’s used about his impact. When asked, he was focused on doing whatever he could to help the team and not just in the form of catching passes.

“What happens happens,” Howard said. “I’m just here to play ball, I’m an NFL player. I want to succeed and whatever that is, that’s my job.”

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13 COMMENTS

  1. “I’m just here to play ball, I’m an NFL player. I want to succeed and whatever that is, that’s my job.”

    now that’s an answer I like, we need more players with that attitude.

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    • Player Speak… Doesn’t sound happy to be here to me. Better hurry up and get the play-action going. Jones should get the opportunity to get 100-yds Sunday while play-action feeds all WR/TE. This weekly dosage and everyone should get better.

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  2. We all knew OJ was going to be used as blocker not receiver because that what Arians has always done all this other talk is BS
    Arians does not use TE as pass catcher he uses them as blocker
    Howard has a lot of skill and is not used correctly……………. It the coach who is problem with Howard

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  3. It’s not BA its Leftwichs play calling, OJ not finding his groove, and a RT who cant block his guy alone. BA actually has a pretty decent track record with TEs…As OC of Steelers Heath Miller was a very productive TE. When he was OC and interim HC for the Colts they drafted Colby Fleener with the 34th overall pick. When he was with the Cardinals they used multiple TE sets with Fells and Gresham and they produced solid numbers between the two of them. Once BF and OJ find their groove and address the RT, OJ should be back to form. Too bad it probably wont happen till next season.

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    • Won’t happen until they’re identified as a running team… Must continue to run the ball, this OL does that pretty well. Using that energy helps when setting up in pass-pro then they will see downfield success in play-action for all.

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    • It’s both.

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  4. Arians will use him if he:
    1. Quits having penalties
    2. Quits dropping balls
    3. O line plays better
    He has had lot issues this year. Not like he catches everything and hasn’t had huge penalties! Duh!

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  5. Oh and
    4. He needs run better routes and get open! Go back and watch if you doubt that!

    So blame Arians you moron troll but it’s lot more complicated than your pea brain can comprehend.

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  6. It isn’t BA’s fault O.J. keeps trying to catch passes with one hand only and often just tips the pass to the opposing team to intercept and when he does catch the ball eventually runs out of bounds instead of using his size advantage and a good stiff arm to take it to the opposing team. He has been playing too soft!

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    • If Howard was making plays then maybe we could blame BA or BL on giving him more opportunities. Winning changes everything and maybe some of these topics too

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    • Agree 100% @owlykat! I’ll add that I’m not sure the press is helping Winston & Howard’s situation either.

      Here’s the two bigger reasons OJ Howard’s not getting more opportunities: Mike Evans and Chris Godwin! Plus we need to run the ball more. So how many more passing opportunities should he really be getting??

      I get that he was a first round pick but he was a first round pick for a HC who had experience with Tony Gonzalez as an OC. BA’s never worked with a TE like that but Koetter was never two-time NFL coach of the Year either!

      At the end of the day, we’ll see what we shall see. But I think most everyone would agree that if we would just win some damn ballgames then we really wouldn’t care who was getting the ball!

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  7. Owlykat you must be a Jameis lover or just a the announcer said it so it is true. But the balls he has tried to catch one handed we’re in him so fast he had no choice. You get the benefit of super high def slo mo. He is literally 2 seconds into his route and sees a fastball coming right at hi as his head turns. He has barely enough time to get one arm up on the pass. A little touch from our qb would be great. Everything doesn’t have to be a 100 mph heater when you get pressure. And as for the guy stating the heath miller he averaged 3 catches and 30 yards a game of that is stellar to you we didn’t need to spend a 1st round pick on that. Oh buckled called him out that he is soft because after running 30 yards and a defensive end closing end he went out of bounds. There is no creative play calling to get him the ball. We throw a quick screen to him once every two games and he gains 20 plus yards why not run that play 10 times a game. I do t understand how a coach that is the best to ever do it and is in the super bowl every year will run the same play over and over and play a whole game just throwing to runningbacks and quick slants and no other team immolates it. If it works keep using it. But we hear dumb excuses that we do t want to show everything early. Well we are 2-4 so we need to leave nothing out there. Come up with some new plays later instead of holding on to plays you know will work. Every year same junk outcoached outplayed

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  8. I’ve seen Jameis miss O.J. when he’s been open quite a few times and instead, he tries to force the ball elsewhere. So I think Jameis is as much to blame as anyone with the Bucs lack of use for O.J.

    I think one of our biggest problems is we don’t stick with the run. Or we stick with it for one drive and run it 9 times in a row. The Bucs need to get rid of the committee style backfield and go with one RB or the other. When you use a committee backfield neither player can get in a groove and get it going. I remember Emmitt Smith said it usually took him 9 – 10 carries until he got going. If he was on the Bucs he would have never had the career he had. The Bucs need to stick with one RB and let him do his thing. Then use the other to give rests and change up the pace. IMHO, it should be Jones, he’s electric and has more upside. Once we do this it will open up the passing game in ways we haven’t seen yet, and we might be surprised what Jones could do if he was to be the feature back and had more opportunities.

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