We don’t know exactly what Tampa Bay’s new offense will look like until September, but there are some clues out there that suggest the Buccaneers could go away from the league-wide trend of throwing more to tight ends.
The Bucs had a major shakeup at the position this week when they traded Kellen Winslow to Seattle and brought in free agent Dallas Clark. The Bucs basically replaced one veteran pass-catcher with another.
Tampa Bay coach Greg Schiano said he believes Clark can get back to being the same player he was before injuries limited his production with Indianapolis the past two seasons. In 2009, Clark caught 100 passes.
But, even if Clark is healthy, he might have a tough time registering a 100-catch season. The Bucs hired former New York Giants quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan as their offensive coordinator, so it’s safe to assume this offense will at least look a little like what the Giants run.
In a 2011 season in which eight tight ends, including Winslow, were targeted at least 110 times (according to ESPN Stats & Information), the Giants took a completely different approach. New York’s top tight end, Jake Ballard, was targeted 58 times and ranked No. 25 in tight-end targets. Ballard produced 38 catches for 604 yards and four touchdowns. Backups Bear Pascoe and Travis Beckum were targeted 16 and 10 times, respectively.
Maybe Sullivan doesn’t take the exact approach the Giants did. Maybe a healthy Clark convinces Sullivan to throw to the tight ends more often.
Or maybe the Bucs will follow what the Giants did and dare to be different than the rest of the league.