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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Liam Coen Envisions Chris Godwin Having Big Role in the Slot

New Bucs Offensive Coordinator Liam Coen Sees a Role for WR Chris Godwin similar to what Cooper Kupp does for the Rams, and Godwin has already proved himself as a big-time producer out of the slot

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Liam Coen, the Buccaneers' new offensive coordinator, was the Rams' assistant wide receivers coach in 2019 when wide receiver Cooper Kupp had his first breakout year (an even bigger one was on the horizon), with 94 catches for 1,161 yards and 10 touchdowns. Two years later, Kupp had a season for the ages with 145 grabs for 1,947 yards and 16 touchdowns. Coen, at that point the offensive coordinator at the University of Kentucky, wasn't on hand for that season but still knows how Kupp was used in the Rams' offense.

Coen sees great potential for Bucs' wide receiver Chris Godwin in a similar role.

"You've got a guy [in Mike Evans] that's 6-4 and change, 220, and can move like he does," he said on Tuesday after being introduced to the local media. "Then you've got a guy like Chris that I think can be really dynamic on the inside. That's where I envision him playing, is more on the inside, playing that 'F' position that ultimately Cooper played. A lot of things do run through that. So I'm excited about him."

This isn't really speculative, either. There is already plenty of evidence from the 2020-22 seasons that suggest how productive Godwin can be in that 'F' role. In an offense run by Tom Brady and directed by Byron Leftwich, the Bucs used Godwin in the slot more and more each season. He was there 51% of his snaps in 2020, 53% in 2021 and 60% in 2022. Throw in the plays on which Godwin was lined up tight with the line, often to take advantage of his blocking abilities, and now those three-year percentages are 67%, 70% and 72%.

During those three seasons, Godwin ranked fifth in the NFL in receptions per game (6.5) and ninth in receiving yards per game (72.3). Kupp, by the way, ranked first and third in those categories in that span. Godwin also had exceptional catch rates, hauling in 77.4% of his targets in 2020, 77.2% in 2021 and 73.2% in 2022.

The Buccaneers tried a new approach with Godwin in 2023, only using him in the slot 32% of the time and lined up tight 7% of the time. That approached worked, too. Godwin's catch rate dropped to 63.8%, not unexpected given a lower share of his throws were quick screens and underneath passes, and his overall receptions total dipped from 104 in 15 games in 2022 to 83 in 17 games in 2023. However, he still produced 1,024 receiving yards, nearly identical to his 2022 total, and his average per catch jumped up by 2.5 yards.

Godwin, like Evans, has shown throughout his career that he can succeed in any receiver role and win on every kind of route. It sounds like his 2024 role in Coen's attack will be more in line with what he did in 2020-22.

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