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There hasn’t been this much anticipation for a Tampa Bay Buccaneers football season since, well, maybe ever. With that anticipation has come a lot of conversation as to what production will look like per player during the 2020 NFL season. Will Tom Brady throw deep often enough to make Mike Evans as effective as normal?

Is Rob Gronkowski going to remain Brady’s favorite target, even with fellow tight end O.J. Howard looking ready to break out? Which running back will lead the way in the passing game? How about on the ground?

I’ve used statistics from past Bruce Arians-led offenses and from the past performances of each individual on this list to compile production predictions for each skill player on the Bucs offense. Important to note: these predictions assume a 16-game, healthy season for all players. Because of that, I’m not anticipating much action for rookie wide receiver Tyler Johnson and rookie running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn this season, due to a combination of injuries and no offseason to really earn more playing time.

Passing Game

Quarterback

Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Some have predicted the Bucs will go with a more ball control, run-oriented offense in 2020, and this is perhaps the first myth I will dismantle for you today. Simply put, no Bruce Arians-led offense will EVER be a run-oriented offense. EVER.

Most Bucs fans are aware of Jameis Winston’s eye-popping 626 attempts which led the NFL last season under Arians. The Bucs finished the 2019 campaign fourth in the league in pass attempts, the third consecutive year that an Arians-led offense has finished in the Top 5 in the NFL in pass attempts. As the NFL has shifted into predominantly a pass-first and pass-often league of which Arians was one of the initial proponents, the Bucs head coach has simply continued to increase his own team’s pass volume to stay ahead of the curve.

That should be just fine with Brady, who has finished in the Top 10 in the NFL in pass attempts each of the past three seasons, including first in 2017. Brady isn’t likely to hit Winston’s 626 attempts given how often the Bucs were playing from behind thanks to Winston’s turnovers last year, but he still should be safely in the 560-590 range. Let’s set the mark at 585 to get aggressive in a league that trends more pass-heavy every year, and predict a 64 percent completion rate, roughly the average of the past five seasons of Brady’s career with a slight regression projected in.

Attempts: 585
Completions: 374
Yards: 4,600
Touchdowns: 33
Interceptions: 11

It’s going to be difficult to predict yards accurately, but a ballpark assessment is the goal. Last year, Brady averaged 6.6 yards per attempt in an offense with little juice and no vertical threats down the field. It was a completely different league the last time Brady had an average YPA that low, back in 2002.

There’s no way he’ll repeat that mark in this offense, so conservatively I’ll guess he lands around 7.8-7.9 yards per attempt, looking at Brady’s larger career sample size and what Carson Palmer did in the pre-Bucs version of Arians’ offense. That mark would have put Brady at 11th place in the NFL in yards per attempt a season ago, so that still may be too conservative of a prediction. A 7.86 average yards per attempt would put Brady at around 4,600 yards passing for the season, good enough for fifth-highest in the NFL last season.

Bucs QB Tom Brady

Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Passing touchdowns are a difficult stat to predict, as it is a little more of a random occurrence than simple completions. Last year’s 24 passing touchdowns was the lowest mark for Brady since 2006, and even if you think he’s declining, the sheer uptick in weapons and an improved passing offense makes him a safe bet to get over 25 in a healthy season. I think all of those tight ends creating mismatches in the red zone could put Brady even higher than my assessment in this category, but we’ll be realistic and predict 33. That mark would have tied him for second in the NFL with Winston a year ago. Remember, we’re talking about probably the best red zone quarterback of all-time, in an offense built to thrive in the passing game in that area of the field.

As for interceptions, I’ve seen the stats on quarterbacks throwing a career-high number of picks in their first year in Bruce Arians’ offense, but I’m not buying that being true for Brady. Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer were all quarterbacks with a proclivity for interceptions before that point, and none of them are the best quarterback of all-time, who has made a 20-year career out of minimizing mistakes. Putting the ball in the air more will come with some inherent risks and unlucky results, but Brady hasn’t thrown more than 12 interceptions in any season over the past 10 years, so you can’t convince me he’s eclipsing his career high of 14 in 2020.

Wide Receivers

Mike Evans

A huge year is looming for Mike Evans, as he has a chance to become the first wide receiver in NFL history to eclipse 1,000 yards for seven straight seasons to begin his career. When a guy has a six-year sample size and every one of those seasons is marked by elite production at his position, it makes the prediction part of this pretty simple.

Bucs WR Mike Evans

Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Getty Images

We’ve got 374 catches, 4,600 yards and 33 touchdowns to divide up between a host of offensive weapons, and I’m giving Evans more of the yards than anyone else, even if he isn’t the volume receiver Chris Godwin is. Here’s my predictions for the Bucs’ franchise wide receiver:

Catches: 75
Yards: 1,152
Avg: 15.4
TDs: 7

I fully anticipate the Bucs offense operating heavier in the short-intermediate areas of the field, while still hitting plenty of deep shots with greater efficiency than it did a year ago. Evans’ catch numbers could be even lower than this, but I doubt his yardage will be. The Bucs aren’t going to use him in the quick game or get him any manufactured touches on screens, but Evans is one of the premier deep threats in the NFL, and he and Brady already have shown great chemistry in training camp.

It might not be the most statistically dominant campaign Evans has ever put up in the NFL, but that’s only due to the talent around him and the fact that there aren’t more balls to go around. If anyone else gets hurt, Evans is the skill player I’d bet on seeing the most bump in production.

Chris Godwin

Catches: 81
Yards: 1,047
Avg: 13.0
TDs: 7

Bucs WR Chris Godwin

Bucs WR Chris Godwin – Photo courtesy of the Buccaneers

I expect Godwin to lead the way in catches for the Bucs once again this year, as he tends to play the most volume-heavy position in Tampa Bay’s offense in the slot, while running a lot of routes to the middle of the field – the place where Brady threw the vast majority of his passes a season ago. Godwin might see more quick hitters this season which will push his average yards per catch down a tad, but his contested catch ability and smooth adjustments outside his frame should make a big impact in close quarters down near the red zone.

Scotty Miller

Catches: 26
Yards: 353
Avg: 13.6
TDs: 3

Bucs WR Scotty Miller

Bucs WR Scotty Miller – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Some might expect Miler’s average yards per catch to be up higher than this in 2020, but while he will likely make a few big plays down the field, I also think the Bucs will get him involved on some smoke routes and screens this season that should function more like carries in the run game.

Miller’s speed and elusiveness are two traits the Bucs could really use on the field this season, even if most of what he’s doing is opening up space for other players. His ability to balance quick-hitting targets in space with big plays in the vertical passing game is a missing element to the Bucs passing game that should help keep defenses from doubling Evans on a consistent basis.

Justin Watson

Catches: 13
Yards: 142
Avg: 11.0
TDs: 0

Bucs WR Justin Watson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Bucs WR Justin Watson – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

As long as Miller stays healthy, it’s hard for me to see Watson wresting away much playing time from his more talented teammate. Watson will also be relied on heavily for his special teams prowess this season, especially with Dare Ogunbowale moving on. Combine that with the depth the team has at tight end, and it’s easy to see how Watson could struggle to get on the field offensively this season.

Tight Ends

O.J. Howard

Catches: 51
Yards: 707
Avg: 13.9
TDs: 5

Bucs TE O.J. Howard

Bucs TE O.J. Howard – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Howard’s yards per catch might take a slight tumble this season after being the No. 1 tight end in the NFL in that category since he entered the league in 2017, but his overall game is going to take off. I’m predicting an excellent season for the Bucs’ fourth-year tight end, who should lead the way in snaps, catches, yards and targets at the position.

Rob Gronkowski

Catches: 40
Yards: 520
Avg: 13.0
TDs: 6

Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski

Bucs TE Rob Gronkowski – Photo by: Tampa Bay Buccaneers

If I’m wrong about Howard, than Gronk’s numbers will look a lot better than this, because I fully believe he’s still very capable of being a top tight end in the NFL. Having said that, I think Tampa Bay’s plan is to limit Gronkowski as needed, keeping him fresh and capable of making an impact late in the season. He’s also by far the team’s best run-blocking tight end, so a good chunk of his workload may come in the run game rather than through the air.

Cameron Brate

Catches: 18
Yards: 150
Avg: 8.3
TDs: 2

Bucs TE Cameron Brate

Bucs TE Cameron Brate – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Where Gronkowski and Howard have been two of the most big-play tight ends in the NFL during their careers, Brate is the underneath chain-moving type who could see his best opportunities come out of tight end-heavy sets in the red zone. He’s reliable and will have fine rapport with Brady, the opportunities will just be limited.

Antony Auclair

Catches: 3
Yards: 25
Avg: 8.3
TDs: 1

Bucs TE Antony Auclair

Bucs TE Antony Auclair – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Mark my words: Auclair is gonna grab one of the 33 touchdowns next season, and there will be much rejoicing when he does – especially up in his native Canada.

Ronald Jones II

Catches: 33
Yards: 265
Avg: 8.0
TDs: 2

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II

Bucs RB Ronald Jones II – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

Brady has a reputation for targeting running backs heavily in the passing game, but I think they’ve been more of a last resort for him in his career when he can’t find anyone else open. I don’t think that’ll be the case with the Bucs, although Jones will still produce just fine as a receiver. There will be a regression to the mean from his average of 10 yards per catch on 31 catches last year, but RoJo is the Bucs’ running back that should get the majority of touches in the passing game this season.

Leonard Fournette

Catches: 22
Yards: 152
Avg: 7.0
TDs: 0

Bucs RB Leonard Fournette - Photo by: Getty Images

Bucs RB Leonard Fournette – Photo by: Getty Images

Fournette is a capable receiving back who spent far more time as a featured receiver in Jacksonville last season than he should ever spend again. I hope Tampa Bay realizes this, but I still think Fournette will get his fair share of targets in the passing game. He’ll be fine in that role, but ‘fine’ isn’t a desirable offensive outcome on a team with far more desirable options on passing downs.

LeSean McCoy

Catches: 12
Yards: 87
Avg: 7.3
TDs: 0

Bucs RB LeSean McCoy

Bucs RB LeSean McCoy –
Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The addition of Fournette should make McCoy an afterthought after the first few weeks of the season. Unless there is an injury ahead of him, expect McCoy to be see a pretty light workload this season.

CLICK PAGE 2 TO SEE LEDYARD’S PREDICTION FOR THE BUCS’ RUNNING GAME IN 2020

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About the Author: Jon Ledyard

Jon Ledyard is PewterReport.com's newest Bucs beat writer and has experience covering the Pittsburgh Steelers as a beat writer and analyzing the NFL Draft for several draft websites, including The Draft Network. Follow Ledyard on Twitter at @LedyardNFLDraft
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Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
1 year ago

Justin Watson 0 catches 0 yards?

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
Reply to  Jon Ledyard
1 year ago

Yeah I see it Now. When I first started reading it didn’t show up in my screen.Lol

Pete Wood
Pete Wood(@littlebrownjug)
1 year ago

I agree with your predictions with three exceptions.
Tom Brady throws less than 10 interceptions.
Chris Godwin will have better numbers than Mike Evans.
No way Ronald Jones averages 4.6 yards per carry. I just don’t see it.
Go Bucs!

DT25
DT25(@dt25)
Reply to  Pete Wood
1 year ago

Averaged over 4.2 YPC last year with a poorly graded run blocking OL that replaced the weakest link with a superior run blocker in Wirfs…along with Gronk. Then consider we now have a QB who will command the LOS and check into run plays when he recognizes favorable fronts. I definitely see it being possible. I’d venture a guess of 4.4 to 4.5 for him this season, but 4.6 wouldn’t surprise me at all given all the work he’s put in.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
1 year ago

Fournette merely being on the field opens up the playbook completely. RoJo on the field teams knew we were running the ball last year. We were Very Predictable, But not now! I think Fournette sees waay more playing time than RoJo, just an all around better player. Cheers!

bucballer
bucballer(@bucballer)
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 year ago

U may be correct Captain Sly. Did u see the size of Fournette in that picture? Guy is built like a brick shithouse. Didn’t realize how stour he was. Guys a beast! Unless RoJo just busts out this year… which I hope he does… Fournette should end up with the better stats. Historically speaking and history has been proven false before. I’m just saying…

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
Reply to  bucballer
1 year ago

I like RoJo but in his best effort he’s still below Fournette’s worst efforts. Some times we get caught overthinking!

DT25
DT25(@dt25)
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 year ago

Is it though? RoJo’s best efforts so far in his short career saw him tally 4.2 YPC, just 0.1 YPC less than Fournette’s best…both last season…and that was nearly an entire yard more per carry than what most would consider Fournette’s “worst” effort, when he averaged a Peyton Barber-esque 3.3 YPC in 2018. Fournette has the name recognition and draft status, sure…but so far, nothing about his professional career has really shown his worst is anywhere close to RoJo’s best. Might be more accurate to say that sometimes we get caught underthinking because we rely too much on preconceived opinions… Read more »

Last edited 1 year ago by DT25
DT25
DT25(@dt25)
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 year ago

Wouldn’t be surprised to see their stats very similar. But I actually see it the other way around…think teams will believe Fournette provides the more potent rushing threat based on reputation alone and he’ll still see a few more stacked boxes. Wouldn’t be surprised if RoJo gets very few stacked boxes to run against early in the season and carves them up. Eventually think teams will have to pick their poison…but really, think Jones and Fournette both end up with around 800 yards on the ground if they stay healthy, Fournette will likely lead the way receiving (although if his… Read more »

BigSombrero
BigSombrero(@bucwild02)
1 year ago

Good read Ledyard. Bruce Arians may not change his offense, but Brady will audible to a run as he sees fit. I expect plenty of dinks/dunks/handoffs. It’s a Brady hallmark, even when he has 4.4 speed at WR(like Phillip Dorsett last year). Brady is in for a big year. 4300 and 28 TDs with 20 INTs including 4 pick 6s. Without all the explanation, I previously predicted Evans getting his 1k, Fournette leading the team with 1600 all purpose yards(1000/600), Godwins 2019 numbers taking a slight dip, and Gronk/Brate/OJ having equal productivity. I also agree McCoy will contribute little since… Read more »

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

4.4 speed! Man Phillip Dorsett couldn’t catch The Corona Virus if he tried! Brady had nothing to throw to in NE compared to what he has now.

Last edited 1 year ago by Captain Sly
Dave
Dave(@bucball02)
Reply to  Captain Sly
1 year ago

And 4.4 speed means?…..absolutely nothing! The dude ran 2 routes even remotely league average. 9 route, and comebacks. That’s your argument. Bust Phillip Dorsett, who’s on his 3rd team in 4 years, has 4.4 speed. Comments like this make me wonder if you know anything about football.

Also, I said it before and I’ll say it again. I’ll bet you $500 on Brady under 20 picks, and $100 each on Brady under 4 pick sixes, and Fournette under 1600 total yards. Because none of those have any shot at happening

Last edited 1 year ago by Dave
PatrioticChief
PatrioticChief(@patrioticchief)
Reply to  BigSombrero
1 year ago

You think Brady is going to throw six more picks than his career high with one of the best offensive casts of his career. Why?

lambeau
lambeau(@pbmd)
1 year ago

Sombrero–Brady doesn’t throw picks, you’re thinking of someone else.
I think he loves Scotty Miller, they’ll be in 11 personnel more than 12, and Miller will get 500 yards.

BigSombrero
BigSombrero(@bucwild02)
Reply to  lambeau
1 year ago

Every QB in an Arians offense throws interceptions, especially in their first season. Big Ben, Carson Palmer, Andrew Luck, Jameis Winston all had career highs in interceptions their first year in this offense.

Put me down for 20, especially if the secondary is as bad as it was to start last year.

The Wall
The Wall(@the-wall)
1 year ago

Brate is too good and is getting paid too much to be limited to 18 catches. I hope Howard is as good as you say but I will believe it when I see it on the field.

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
Reply to  The Wall
1 year ago

Agree! That equals about $350k per catch for Brate. I gotta get more value than that.

Donkey__Hunter
Donkey__Hunter(@donkey__hunter)
1 year ago

I think the distribution numbers among the WR’s and TE’s are pretty spot on. Not so sure about the YPC for the RB’s though.

Lol anyone who thinks Brady will throw 20 picks.

bozo
bozo(@bradylover)
1 year ago

followed brady to Tampa , but fell in love with bucks, so much talent, cant wait to see it happen. however on paper don’t always work out .

Captain Sly
Captain Sly(@captain-sly)
Reply to  bozo
1 year ago

Gotta say “The Bucs” here on the Pirate Ship not “The Bucks”…Anyways welcome aboard!

BigSombrero
BigSombrero(@bucwild02)
Reply to  bozo
1 year ago

The Bucks?? Get outta here Bozo!

Dave
Dave(@bucball02)
1 year ago

Agree with pretty much everything. Especially with Rojo outproducing Fournette. Only disagreement I have is that I think Miller blows 26 rec and 352 yards out of the water. I think he’ll end up with 50 rec and 600 yards with 3 TD’s. The rest is very close to what I had

rocky
rocky(@howsyourburger)
1 year ago

Interested to see the difference in opinion when it comes to Tom Brady and Bruce arians and the tight end. Last year everyone was saying how OJ was gonna be a break out and in fantasy drafts was being selected as a top 5 tight end. When his production was sour the spotlight wasn’t so much on Howard but instead on arians and how he never operates a heavy pass load to tight ends. Now with Brady back with gronk and having the talented Howard will it be brady passing to the TEs in the offense or more subtle numbers… Read more »

Vinsane38
Vinsane38(@vinsane38)
1 year ago

From the Bucs archives of my brain:

I remember TE Ron Hall in the backfield for third downs…even got a few carries.

If the cut Ogbunwale, I wonder if Brate or OJH stays on field in the backfield?

bucballer
bucballer(@bucballer)
Reply to  Vinsane38
1 year ago

Yes! Brate can and will be used in that fullback/TE hybrid role per BA.

PatrioticChief
PatrioticChief(@patrioticchief)
1 year ago

I think Evans gets double digit touchdowns barring injury. Just go through the camp reports. I read Brady to Evan touchdown so many times that my eyes began to glaze over. The running back situation is interesting. Something tells that Fournette or RoJo will crack 1000 yards, if only barely. My money is on RoJo but we will see. They have the talent to be the best offense in football but whether they live up to their paper potential is anyone’s guess. I am cautiously optimistic.

Bucsfan1983
Bucsfan1983(@bucsfan1983)
1 year ago

Brady will throw for 35+ TDs, bet that.

Mb Nfl Double Your First Deposit Football Team Vs Bucs Pewter 728x90 Jpg