The tight ends have played an integral role throughout the season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Their ability to block has been a force multiplier. But those things do not fill a stat sheet. So here are some bold predictions for the tight ends that will fill it on Super Bowl Sunday.
In week 12 Rob Gronkowski was the leading receiver for the Buccaneers. He hauled in six of seven targets for 106 yards. That game against the Chiefs was his best of the season and a good example of his ability to take over a game.
During the regular season, Gronkowski has been a swiss army knife of tight ends. Blocking in both the pass and run game. In the passing game, he has contributed very well also. His 13.8 yards a reception have aided the offense with 29 first downs. Gronk’s 632 yards and seven touchdowns are proof that the Buccaneers did the right thing by bringing him out of retirement. Unfortunately, he has recorded his lowest catch percentage of his career (58.4%).
In the 2020 postseason Gronkowski has only had seven targets and two receptions. Luckily those two receptions have come when the Buccaneers needed first downs to keep drives moving. At roughly a 28.6% reception percentage he will have to step things up in the Super Bowl. Given his performance throughout the season, Gronkowski is either feast or famine mode for Super Bowl Sunday. If the wide receivers stutter and the team is behind Gronkowski is likely to see upwards of six to seven targets. This is unlikely though as the receiving corps has been performing more consistently. He is likely to see three targets for over 40 yards and a touchdown. His blocking will come in handy and he will occasionally sneak out for a pass.
Against the Chiefs, Cameron Brate showed up for four catches off six targets. He snatched those passes out the air for 35 yards and was trustworthy as ever. He has been his entire career.
In games where the Buccaneers have had a hard time, Brate has found himself injected to boost the offense. With an 82.4% reception percentage, he has been quietly dependable. This season he has pulled together 282 yards from 28 receptions. More than half of his receptions have been for first downs.
In the playoffs, he has been used more than usual. With 11 receptions he averages 49.7 yards a game. More than double his average per game during the regular season. Seven of those catches have been first downs and one was for a touchdown. In the Super Bowl, he should see similar usage as the rest of the playoffs. Brate will have five targets and four catches for 35 yards.
Bold Prediction: The Tight End Group
With the wide receiver corps applying the pressure to the Chiefs defense the tight end group will be used to mix things up and keep drives going. Gronkowski and Brate will manage a respectable 75 yards and a touchdown. Coupled with the other offensive weapons their blocking ability for Tom Brady may be what this group will primarily do.
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