Bruce Arians: O.J. Howard’s Eyes Should “Light Up”

Tom Brady relied heavily on Rob Gronkowski in New England. He clearly missed him last season, as Brady completed just 37 passes for 419 yards and two touchdowns during the regular season to his tight ends.

Now in Tampa Bay, Brady will have former first-round pick O.J. Howard as his top tight end.

Howard was rumored to be in trade talks last season, but now finds himself with the greatest quarterback of all time and arguably the best situation in the NFL for a tight end.

“[Howard’s] eyes should light up,” Bucs coach Bruce Arians said, via Jenna Laine of ESPN. “It’s still going out on the practice field and earning that trust. I think that will be his No. 1 focus. You have a quarterback that likes to throw to tight ends — go earn it and get balls thrown to you.”

With Mike Evans and Chris Godwin getting much of the attention on offense, Howard has the potential to pop in 2020 with Tom Brady.

How excited should Howard be? Brady has thrown for more yards (16,563) and more touchdowns (176) to tight ends since 2001 than any other quarterback in the NFL.

There’s still some things Howard has to work on. As Laine writes, Howard’s 7.3% drop rate led all NFL tight ends with at least 30 catches last season. Arians benched him in Week 11 after his drop resulted in an interception.

Howard finished last season with 34 receptions for 459 yards and just one touchdown. He’ll look to improve those numbers in 2020.

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