I can’t imagine too many receiver groups will be as good as the Buccaneers if they’re healthy.
If the Tampa Bay Buccaneers can get Mike Evans, Chris Godwin, Russell Gage and Julio Jones all healthy and rolling at the same time, Tom Brady is going to have four excellent weapons this season. Brady made headlines Thursday, announcing he was stepping away from the Buccaneers for an extended time. However, two of his top new targets will be ready to make a difference when he returns.
Tampa has had to go slot receiver by committee during the last few seasons, but the Bucs are getting a proven slot receiver this season in Gage. Gage can play outside when needed. He’ll catch the ball in traffic, and he’s tough over the middle. He has extreme body quickness, a great release and a tricky euro move off the line of scrimmage that is unique to him. Brady and Byron Leftwich will love working with Gage this year.
When he was with Atlanta, Jones was the number one—the first option. He’s always been the number one in his career. But that’s not the role the Bucs need him to play right now. I think part of the reason Jones doesn’t have a ton of red zone touchdowns in his career is that he was the first option, so he was normally double-teamed. That should not be the case in Tampa.
Jones is a football junkie and a very smart player. He can do it all. Jones is a route runner; he has speed, and he can block. He can do everything they need him to do. So, I think that maybe to start the season, Tampa Bay will use him in the Godwin role. Jones would be the ‘Z’ receiver instead of the ‘X’ opposite Evans. That receiver in the Bucs offense has to be a blocker. Jones is not only that but also a play-action guy and a target in the red zone.
The only issue with Jones throughout the last few years is his ability to maintain health. But when he is healthy, he’s as good as anybody out there.