Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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'We're One of the Best in the League' Says Bucs' Howard | Carmen Catches Up

Bucs tight end O.J. Howard had high praise for his offensive teammates and Tampa Bay was listed as one of the most-improved teams heading into 2020 by ESPN.

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-Tight end O.J. Howard voiced his confidence in the Buccaneer offense on national television. Howard went on Good Morning Football and gushed about the players surrounding him.

"You look at us and line us up versus any offense in the league, we're right up there with the top of them," Howard said to the GMFB crew via NFL.com's Kevin Patra. "So only time will tell how good we are. But I think when you put us on paper, we're one of the best in the league, if not the best."

He may be a little biased, sure, but he's not wrong. On paper, the Bucs boast some serious offensive firepower. They have two 2019 Pro Bowlers to lead their wide receiver room in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, both of whom land in MOST top 10 WR lists across the league (*coughs* Madden). The pair combined for nearly 2,500 yards and 17 touchdowns last season. Those totals would have likely been higher had Evans not missed three games and Godwin two. Godwin still managed to finish with the third-most yards of any receiver and tied for the fourth-most touchdowns. Evans' 89.0 yards per game average ranked fourth in the league and his 17.3 yards-per-catch rate ranked him sixth in the league. Tampa Bay also has a crop of young wide receiver talent waiting in the wings, whether it be Scotty Miller, Justin Watson or newcomer Tyler Johnson, just to name a few.

The receivers especially helped lead the way for an offense that finished first in the league in passing yards with 4,845 and third in total yards with 6,366. They also ranked second in the league in passing first downs with 244.

Throw in the tight end room that Howard is a part of and this paper really doesn't look fair. Arguably the best tight end to ever play the game is now out of retirement and on the Buccaneers roster. Gronkowski has a Hall of Fame-worthy career already after playing nine seasons. He retired after the 2018 season and has spent the last year getting healthy.

The running back room shows promise and it's anyone's guess how it ends up shaking out with the addition of third-round pick Ke'Shawn Vaughn.

Oh, and this is all at the disposal of quarterback Tom Brady.

Yeah, it's hard to think all of that won't translate from paper to the field this season.

-Two Bucs staffers make The Athletic's 40 Under 40 list. In the inaugural edition of their list, The Athletic released the names of the 40 most impressive NFL coaches, front office personnel, league executives and agents. The Bucs had two representatives in wide receivers coach Kevin Garver, 32, and director of football administration Mike Greenberg, 34.

Garver came in with Head Coach Bruce Arians after rising up the ranks under Arians in Arizona. Prior to that, Garver spent six years at the University of Alabama under Head Coach Nick Saban. Garver helped lead the best wide receiver tandem in 2019 in Evans and Godwin, as noted above. Under him, both pass catchers have flourished, honing their route-running ability and football acumen. They show no signs of slowing down either and even with the departure of third wide receiver Breshad Perriman in free agency this past offseason, Garver has a slew of young talent waiting in the wings to step up. The Bucs are expecting big things from Garver's unit but they'll also be aided by a veteran presence in Brady at quarterback.

Greenberg is an absolute magician for the Buccaneers, who routinely boast some of the lowest dead cap numbers in the league year-in and year-out. Working with General Manager Jason Licht, Greenberg has struck team-friendly deals with some of the league's top talent. His most recent feat including keeping all of the Buccaneers' starting front seven together, re-signing the likes of the league's sack leader in Shaq Barrett, defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and outside linebacker Jason Pierre-Paul.

-Bucs rank as one of the most improved teams heading into 2020, according to ESPN*.* Members of the ESPN staff went through and ranked all 32 teams based on how much they improved this offseason. With the additions of quarterback Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski, it's no surprise that the Buccaneers finished near the top. Third, in fact.

"The Bucs added top-shelf talent at quarterback and tight end, but this roster didn't need a savior," wrote Jeremy Fowler. "Tampa Bay is well-stocked at nearly every position, and the franchise worked overtime to retain key defensive free agents Shaquil BarrettJason Pierre-Paul and Ndamukong Suh."

Fowler's best point is perhaps a little contradictory to this list, actually. Yes, the roster improved with the additions of some future Hall of Famers, but the roster was already pretty set up. The 2020 offseason was about retaining current players. Now, the name of the game is continuity in the team's second year under Arians as the Bucs attempt to have their record reflect all the improvements they've made.

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