Football is the ultimate team game. You've probably heard that phrase before. But that's because it is. No player is isolated and two seemingly separate units can have a direct impact on one another. That's why it's not weird when a left guard calls out the receiver group for being a unit that can help the offensive line this coming season.
Guard Ali Marpet was the first to take the podium for a pre-training camp press conference on Wednesday. He fielded the usual questions about his move from right guard to center to now left guard in the past three years and the success of the line in general. But he pointed to a maybe unexpected unit for why he's optimistic about the latter: the wideout group.
"It's crazy," Marpet said. "There is a lot of talent and there is great coaching, and I think it's a great room. The cohesiveness there is really nice and I think that's something that's kind of built up. But yeah, between DeSean [Jackson], Mike [Evans], Chris [Godwin], Adam [Humphries], there's a lot of good players. That's going to help us run the ball, that helps everything. It helps everything from an offensive standpoint."
It goes back to that whole 'team game' thing. Theoretically, with the threat of a passing game, more defenses will opt to drop into coverage and even double-cover receivers, leaving less men to bring pressure up front. With more wiggle-room in that first level, the line can focus on creating holes for running backs instead of guarding against an incoming blitz. That's of course banking on the fact that whoever is calling the opposing defense doesn't opt to bring more pressure to hurry the quarterback into an errant throw. But with all the options the Bucs have at each receiver position, even a quick throw to the slot could be costly. Just ask wide receiver Mike Evans.
"I feel like we have one of the deepest and one of the best receiver groups honestly in the league," Evans said. "I'd put us up against anybody. When we are playing our best, you've seen it, we can compete with the best of them around the league."
Despite a disappointing year in 2017, the Bucs had the fourth-ranked offense in the NFL. That was largely due to the passing game. Bucs' quarterbacks racked up 4,366 yards and 26 touchdowns through the air. The Bucs routinely had four receivers involved in the game last season. Add in tight ends and some pass-catching running backs and there is no shortage of offensive options for the Bucs. While options are aplenty, Evans wanted to take a little more ownership on behalf of the receivers for the team's offensive success.
"Hopefully the receiver room can drive the team," Evans said. "A lot of our talent is in that receiver room and we're hoping to get a lot of big plays this year."
Those receivers will be under new receivers coach Skyler Fulton, who spent last season as the team's offensive assistant. With probable increased roles for second-year players Chris Godwin and Bobo Wilson, along with the return of vets like Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries, the receiver group should very well be able to make those big plays Evans was talking about, which should help out the entirety of the team.
"I'm excited that football is back," Evans said. "We had a bad taste in our mouth from last year and we're excited to get the ball rolling."