Key Buccaneers position group to make biggest impact in 2022 NFL season
The opening months of this year’s NFL offseason were quite chaotic for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
At one point earlier this year, it seemed as if the Buccaneers were going to transition from being a Super Bowl contender to possibly entering a complete rebuilding phase. With Tom Brady putting an end to his 40-day retirement call coupled with general manager Jason Licht’s decision to re-sign several keen offensive contributors from the team’s NFC South-winning squad last year, the Buccaneers are projected to emerge as Super Bowl contenders for the third straight campaign.
For the Buccaneers to pull off another deep playoff run in the NFC, multiple positional groups must rise to the occasion in the season. Among them, Brady will need his wide receiver corps to lead the way on offense.
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Buccaneers Key Position Group For 2022 NFL Season
Even with the multitude of injuries at the position coupled with Antonio Brown’s departure from the team ahead of the NFL playoffs, Brady still managed to get the best out of his wide receiver unit last season. Four different wideouts hauled in at least 30 receptions, including Tyler Johnson (36).
What is set to dictate the success for the Buccaneers’ wideout corps this season will not come down to the production from either Mike Evans or Chris Godwin. Evans has continued to prove to be one of the more versatile receivers in the NFL today, and his route-running prowess has progressed over the years. On the other hand, Godwin is continuing to make steady progress in his injury rehab from his season-ending torn ACL ailment, and he is at the least on par to earn the green light to feature for Tampa Bay later this year.
Several other talents on the Buccaneers’ wideout depth chart will have to provide another dimension to the offense. Among them, Russell Gage Jr. is being counted on by Brady to do a “great job” in the 2022 campaign.
“He has to have a big year,” Brady said during a press conference at Buccaneers’ OTAs. “We signed him to a contract and he has to come in and do a great job. In the time I’ve spent with him, I really enjoy it and I think he has a great opportunity.
“That is a very important role for an offense that throws the ball as much as we do. … I think Russ, when he is out there, there is a lot of work that needs to go into the next six weeks to be ready.”
Gage joined the Buccaneers on a three-year deal worth $30 million in March. His versatility as a wideout was on full display during his four-season run with the Atlanta Falcons, which included hauling in 193 total receptions.
Now in Tampa Bay, Gage is set to be relied on when Buccaneers offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich rolls out 11 personnel, which consists of one running back, one tight end, and three wide receivers. Whether in contested catches down the middle of the field or in out routes, Gage must provide Brady with a safety blanket option in order to help elevate Tampa Bay’s offensive production.
More so, the Buccaneers are expected to call on Scotty Miller to assist in rounding out the team’s wide receiver depth chart. After multiple stout showings in Tampa Bay’s run to Super Bowl 55, a toe injury wound up halting his momentum last year.
At the least, Buccaneers wide receivers coach Kevin Garver believes that Miller has what it takes to be a vital contributor on offense.
“He’s going to have an opportunity just like everyone else,” Garver said during a press conference in May. “Obviously, the Super Bowl run that year, he contributed a lot to us and to the offense and made a lot of big plays for us. He definitely has the ability and I think it’s just a matter of what he does on the field moving forward.”
From Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles’ standpoint, as he noted during the team’s OTAs, he is looking ahead to a potential injury-free campaign for Miller.
“He looks good – he’s in shape,” Bowles said. “He’s running fast. He’s doing all the right things right now, so we’ll just knock on wood. Hopefully, that transfers to Training Camp and he doesn’t get hurt again.”
With Breshad Perriman and Jaelon Darden also expected to receive a fair share of snaps, Brady sure has what he needs to not only orchestrate a formidable campaign in his potential farewell season but also lead the team to a possible second trip to the Super Bowl in three years.