Bucs receiver Chris Godwin is dropping passes. Dirk Koetter has an explanation

Chris Godwin has a chance to finish strong for the second straight season. But the Bucs receiver heads to Dallas Sunday trying to shake the toughest stretch of his young NFL career.
New Orleans Saints cornerback Eli Apple (25) breaks up a pass intended for Bucs receiver Chris Godwin (12) Dec. 9 in a game at Raymond James Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
New Orleans Saints cornerback Eli Apple (25) breaks up a pass intended for Bucs receiver Chris Godwin (12) Dec. 9 in a game at Raymond James Stadium. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)
Published December 21 2018

TAMPA — On the second offensive play last week, Chris Godwin dropped a pass that foreshadowed a long afternoon.

Jameis Winston hit Godwin midstride over the middle. In the rain, the Baltimore safety in front of him slipped to the ground. Godwin reached out, had the ball with both hands, but it slapped off his palms and fell to the ground.

"It definitely was a rough way to start," Godwin said of the Bucs' 20-12 loss to the Ravens. "That could have been a really good starting point for us. It didn't go that way.

"You get frustrated at yourself, but at the same time, you have to realize that things happen. I think that's the biggest thing I'm working on is when bad plays happen of moving on and fixing it on the next one."

As Godwin finishes out his second season, he's shown flashes of being a top receiver. But he's currently going through his toughest stretch.

He went without a catch in Baltimore. The previous week Godwin made just one catch on 10 targets versus New Orleans.

That difficult stretch comes after Godwin recorded a season-best 101-yard receiving game against 49ers three weeks ago, marking his second 100-yard receiving game in a four-week span.

"I just look at it as growth," Godwin said. "Throughout the whole year, there's been some ups and downs. There's been some good games and some games that I don't see as being very characteristic of me. I take those all in stride."

After the Saints game, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter was confident that Godwin would bounce back. He still is.

"Chris is a little nicked up and he fought through it," Koetter said. "He had a similar thing last year and then he actually finished pretty strong. … I know I'm the one that said last week that it wasn't to be too concerned over and then he didn't have any catches again. I don't think it's a huge deal and I don't think he's lacking for confidence."

The Bucs tried to establish Godwin early against New Orleans, and Winston struggled to connect with him, overthrowing him on two deep balls. Though the statistics show Godwin had no drops, and cornerback Eli Apple did a good job covering him, there were passes he could have caught.

"I just think these last few weeks he's been playing a little bit more from a volume standpoint," Koetter said. "But I still think Chris is going to be a really good football player."

Godwin has had a greater opportunity with DeSean Jackson inactive with a thumb injury, seeing three of his largest snap count totals over the last four games.

"I'm sure he feels like he can play better and we expect him to play well," offensive coordinator Todd Monken said. "He's a good football player. He's a guy who likes to practice. He's a guy who doesn't like to come out of the game. There are times when it is better when you can rotate guys, Mike (Evans) included."

Godwin's best performances of  2017 came in his last two games when Jackson was out with an ankle injury. He has two games to end 2018 on another high note.

"I want to show my growth and show my improvement and that I can fight through adversity," he said.

Godwin knows his best help might be the depth of talent he has around him — Evans, Jackson and Adam Humphries have all gone through similar growing pains earlier in there careers and found their niches.

"(They tell me), just stick with it," Godwin said. "Everybody has bad games. It's just trying to minimize it as much as possible and make sure you bounce back."

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at [email protected] Follow @EddieInTheYard.