The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have tons of star players on the offensive side of the ball who are expected to play at the most elite level in the sport.
These players can still have breakout seasons, but there’s also those who we either haven’t seen play a professional snap in the league, or left the fans wanting more. Let’s take a look at possible breakout players for the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers on the offensive side of the ball.
Wide Receiver Chris Godwin
This was an obvious choice to start with. Chris Godwin displayed his “want to” as he was one of the hardest working players on the roster. All throughout training camp in 2017, Godwin displayed grit and toughness to go along with his ability to learn the offensive plays and more importantly, understand them.
Although injuries to the receiving corp had a deciding factor in whether Godwin saw the field or not, Godwin did not disappoint when he was given his chance to play.
When Desean Jackson went down with an injury, Godwin stepped in and displayed flashes of play making ability. Godwin averaged 15.4 yards in 2017, but averaged 19.5 yards on his explosive plays.
By the halfway mark of the season, Godwin saw the field more and displayed his ability to make the most of what he had. During the last two weeks of the 2017 season, Godwin put up impressive numbers. Godwin had a 98 yard game and a very impressive 111 yard game against a division opponent who still had something to play for.
Godwin ultimately finished the 2017 season with much to anticipate hauling in 34 passes for 525 yards and one beautiful touchdown.
(Video Credit: NFL.com)
I expect Godwin to see the field more in 2018 more or less in the slot, almost mimicking Jackson’s rare ability to make plays in space. Godwin has proved himself worthy of a starting position as stated by Offensive Coordinator, Todd Monken during Official Team Activities.
The chemistry between Godwin and franchise quarterback, Jameis Winston, is there to build upon in 2018. I predict 60 receptions, 765 yards, and 5 touchdowns for Godwin in 2018.
Running Back Ronald Jones II
Ronald Jones II will be graded, by most Bucs fans, solely on how productive he is on this Buccaneers team that has suffered from a nonexistent rushing attack. Going into the 2018 NFL Draft, the Buccaneers knew they needed to grab a running back in the earlier rounds of the draft.
Taking a lesson from the 2017 NFL Draft, General Manager Jason Licht realized the Bucs lacked an explosive player at the tail back position, and waiting until the later rounds was out of the question (see Jeremy McNichols).
The best way to describe Jones II’s game, is that he’s an explosive back who plays to the whistle and falls forward for those extra few yards after contact. He turns on his speed long before the defender has a chance to make the tackle, giving himself a better chance at breaking tackles on the second level.
If there was one aspect of the Buccaneer’s running game that was sorely missed last season, it was big play capabilities from the tail back group. This is what Jones II brings to the Bucs. He is literally an explosive play waiting to happen.
With the upgrade and shifts to the offensive line, Jones II and Peyton Barber should be able to eat yards all day. If Jones II can hit the ground running, literally, he’ll be able to take the 2018 Tampa Bay Buccaneers offense to the next level.
Quarterback Jameis Winston
As we all know by now, Jameis Winston will be serving a three game suspension to start the 2018 season. This shouldn’t take away from his ability to have a breakout season. Winston will return to the starting lineup for the Buccaneers possibly week four or after the Bucs bye week, depending on how quickly the Bucs want to reintegrate him back into the flow of football.
Winston finished the 2017 season with much left to be desired. I’m not saying he played horribly, I’m saying he came back from a shoulder injury, a different quarterback. Winston seemed calmer and more in tune with his throwing ability. I do believe the injury Winston suffered, limited his ability and trust in his throwing arm.
During Winston’s last few games upon returning from injury, he was averaging no less than 270 yards and averaged nearly two touchdowns a game. He kept the Buccaneers within a touchdown or less in each of those loses except for the week 17 match-up against the New Orleans Saints, in which he won with a go ahead beautiful touchdown pass to Godwin with seconds left on the clock.
(Video credit: NFL.com)
The biggest area Winston needs and has constantly needed to improve since entering the league, is his turnovers. 2017 Winston had a problem with fumbling the ball. Yes, his interceptions were down, but the fumbles continued his trend of turning the ball over.
If Winston can clean up the turnovers, then there’s no reason for him not to be ranked in the upper half of eligible quarterbacks this season.
Even with the missed games Winston had, he still put up 3504 yards with 19 touchdowns. Winston could’ve easily posted another 4000 plus yard season and possibly 25 or more touchdowns.
This is where his breakout possibilities come into play.
If Winston could post those numbers with an injured shoulder and missing some playing time, who’s to say he can’t come back stronger after his suspension? That would go a long way in quieting some of those critics who suggest he’ll never be great.
With another off-season of work with his pass catchers under his belt, and his chemistry with Cameron Brate, Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, and Godwin, the sky is the limit for Winston in 2018.
Every season is an opportunity for any player to become a star. Just take a lesson out of the Bill Belichick playbook. Belichick brings in somewhat unknown players and turns them into key components of the overall teams success. Every player on the Buccaneers roster has the ability to become great, the question is, what will we see from them each week?
Philip Schwegler is a long time Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan and lives and dies with the team. He is a Managing Editor for Full Press Coverage Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Follow him on Twitter @PhilSchweg for more of his work and everything Tampa Bay Buccaneers Football.