FAB 4. So Far, Godwin Outperforming Fitzgerald In Arians’ Offense
Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians wasn’t kidding when he compared Bucs wide receiver Chris Godwin to future Hall of Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald, whom he coached in Arizona from 2013-17, at this year’s NFL Annual Meeting.
“I think Chris Godwin is going to be close to a 100-catch guy,” Arians said, “especially because I think he can play in the slot. He’s never coming off the field. … I’m not saying he’s Larry Fitzgerald by any means yet, but (he can) play the role like Larry did in Arizona.”
As Arians predicted, the Bucs offense is running through Godwin, who is playing in the slot like Fitzgerald did in Arizona. It was a move that PewterReport.com forecast back in March in a previous edition of SR’s Fab 5.
But what we didn’t see coming was just how dominant Godwin would be this season.
Godwin is the league’s third-leading receiver with 511 yards on 33 catches, behind only New Orleans’ Michael Thomas, who has 45 catches for 543 yards, and Dallas’ Amari Cooper, who has 512 yards on 32 receptions. His six touchdowns lead the NFL.
Through five games Godwin has 15 more catches than Pro Bowler Mike Evans, who has 18, and he has 143 more receiving yards and two more touchdowns than Evans does. Godwin already has three 100-yard receiving games in 2019 after producing just four combined in his first two years in the league.
Two weeks ago in Tampa Bay’s 55-40 win over the Rams in Los Angeles, Godwin had a career day with 12 catches for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Last Sunday in a 31-24 loss at New Orleans, Godwin recorded his first back-to-back 100-yard games when he caught seven passes for 125 yards and two scores.
But not only is Godwin outperforming Evans thus far, he’s also outplaying Fitzgerald through five games.
Godwin’s First 5 Games In 2019
33 receptions on 43 targets for 511 yards (15.5 avg.) with 6 TDs
Fitzgerald’s First 5 Games In 2013
24 receptions on 41 targets for 288 yards (12 avg.) with 3 TDs
Fitzgerald’s First 5 Games In 2015
35 receptions on 44 targets for 490 yards (14 avg.) and 6 TDs
In Fitzgerald’s first year in Arians’ offense he recorded 82 receptions for 954 yards (11.6 avg.) with 10 touchdowns in 2013, but also his best year under Arians, which came in 2015 with 109 catches for 1,215 yards (11.1 avg.) and nine TDs.
Fitzgerald finished the 2013 campaign by catching 82 passes for 954 yards (11.6 avg.) with 10 touchdowns. Missing two games the following year caused his numbers to dip to 63 catches for 784 yards (12.4 avg.) and two TDs.
But in 2015, Fitzgerald posted a career-high 109 receptions for 1,215 yards (11.1 avg.) and nine touchdowns in helping lead Arizona to a 13-3 record and an appearance in the NFC Championship. That kicked off three straight 1,000-yard seasons by Fitzgerald with at least 107 catches under Arians.
Godwin is on pace to crush all of Fitzgerald’s years in Arians’ offense. Not only is he on pace to not only make his first Pro Bowl with 105 catches for 1,635 yards and 19 touchdowns if Godwin maintains his current averages, but he’s also on his way to shatter some Bucs single season records, too. Keyshawn Johnson set the Tampa Bay single season record with 106 receptions in 2001, and Godwin would come close to breaking that mark.
But Godwin’s 1,635 receiving yards and 19 touchdowns would eclipse the franchise records of 1,524 that Evans set last year, as well as the 12 receiving touchdowns record that Evans set in 2014 and matched in 2016.
Godwin is not only playing Fitzgerald’s role in Arians’ offense – he’s playing it better than Fitzgerald ever played it through the first five games of the season. Let’s see if Godwin can keep up the pace.