Welcome to the 2021 version of my Bucs Passing Game Production Predictions! Running in place of my typical Wednesday morning Bucs Briefing column, this article will detail where I expect each Bucs pass catcher’s production to finish when the 2021 season ends. Last year, I wasn’t too far off when you account for injuries.
Important to note: these predictions assume a 17-game, healthy season for all players. Because of that, I’m not anticipating much action for rookie wide receiver Jaelon Darden or second-year running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn this season. Obviously injuries will occur, I’m just not trying to predict them in these projections.
Many are expecting Brady to eclipse his 40 touchdown passes from a year ago, but those numbers are more random than we like to admit. What can be relied upon is Brady’s yardage totals and completion percentage, both of which I believe will increase from a year ago. With an extra game to work with and a more efficient, pass-heavy offense, Brady should stand out in both areas.
Due to better chemistry with his receivers, I’m guessing Brady’s interception numbers dip a bit, too. Most of the quarterback’s picks last season were the result of miscommunications or being hit as he threw. If the Bucs gel better as a unit this season, Brady’s turnover numbers could dip again. He may not throw 40 touchdowns, but Brady will once again be everything the Bucs hoped he would be.
Catches: 71 Yards: 1,037 Avg: 14.6 TDs: 9
Brady spreads the ball around so much, that expecting a massive season for any one target is probably foolish. In this Tampa Bay offense, everyone will see the football plenty. Evans won’t have any issue with that, especially considering he’ll still be the top big play option for the offense. His yard per catch numbers will come back up a little bit in 2021 after the inconsistencies of last season.
Catches: 82 Yards: 1,123 Avg: 13.7 TDs: 7
I expect Godwin to be the volume target in the Bucs offense. As a result, he’ll be the most likely candidate to go over 1,200 yards this season, although I’m predicting he comes up short. Godwin’s all-around game will shine this year as he readies himself for a potentially huge free agency period.
Catches: 72 Yards: 905 Avg: 12.6 TDs: 5
I don’t expect Brown’s production to match Evans’ or Godwin’s simply due to his comparatively lower usage, but the former All-Pro can still put up big numbers. Brown will come closer to statistically matching Evans or Godwin than many seem to think. The Bucs’ usage of Brown on bubble screens and the short passing game will keep his yards per catch down, but expect a few more big plays from the 33-year old receiver as well.
Catches: 19 Yards: 270 Avg: 14.2 TDs: 2
I feel for the Scotty fans out there, but there just isn’t opportunity for a major role in Tampa Bay right now. Miller’s usage plummeted when Brown joined the team last season. With another year of development for Tyler Johnson, it’s hard to envision Miller getting a ton of snaps this year. Barring injury, of course.
Catches: 22 Yards: 288 Avg: 13.1 TDs: 1
It will be a year of patience for Johnson, who could earn the fourth-most wide receiver snaps by season’s end. This versatility will help get him on the field more often than Miller, although they probably end up with similar numbers across the board. If Johnson can take steps toward consistency for the future, that will be bigger than any numbers the Minnesota product can put up.
Catches: 8 Yards: 94 Avg: 11.8 TDs: 0
Unless there is an injury, don’t expect to see Darden play a ton of offense this season.
Catches: 33 Yards: 437 Avg: 13.2 TDs: 6
I am expecting Tampa Bay’s offense to run heavily through their top three wide receivers, which will be another blow to Gronkowski’s production. He’s capable of much more as one of the premier big play tight ends in the NFL. The six touchdowns will be the box score indicator that Gronkowski’s value is still translatable to the stat sheet.
Catches: 22 Yards: 289 Avg: 13.1 TDs: 1
Howard needs a big season in a contract year, but it’s hard to be optimistic at this point. Even if Howard were in a better place for target share, I’m not sure that would be best for him right now. He needs to mentally overcome his injured Achilles and stack consistent performances more than anything else this season.
Catches: 12 Yards: 120 Avg: 10.0 TDs: 2
Ol’ Reliable will have a cameo or two this season. Brady enjoys Brate’s presence in the red zone, so expect a couple scores from the Bucs No. 3 tight end, at the very least.
Ronald Jones II
Catches: 14 Yards: 119 Avg: 8.5 TDs: 0
It could be a resurgent year for Jones, but I still expect modest returns in the passing game.
Catches: 43 Yards: 348 Avg: 8.1 TDs: 3
Bernard should dominate the reception totals by the Bucs’ backfield this season. If he doesn’t, their running backs were deployed inappropriately.
Catches: 8 Yards: 59 Avg: 7.4 TDs: 0
My bold prediction in here is expecting Fournette to get phased out of the backfield by midseason. He’ll still pick up a handful of carries on the year, but the Bucs would be foolish to offer him much of a role given the rest of the talent on their roster.
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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