Chris Godwin is emerging as one of the best receivers in football and a huge factor toward the Tampa Bay Buccaneers chasing their first playoff berth in 13 seasons -- currently the longest drought in the NFC. Godwin is coming off his best season in the NFL, finishing with 86 catches for 1,333 yards and nine touchdowns in earning his first Pro Bowl appearance.
Those numbers are expected to be even better in 2020 with Tom Brady in Tampa. Godwin and Brady are already off to a good start as the wide receiver finished with six catches for 79 yards in Sunday's loss to the New Orleans Saints. Godwin was the recipient of Brady's first completion in a Tampa Bay uniform, a 29-yard strike that gave the Buccaneers the early lead before the offense went dormant until the game was out of hand.
There's no reason to panic in Tampa after a Week 1 loss, especially with how Godwin played in the season opener. In an interview with CBS Sports, Godwin discusses how Brady looked in his Buccaneers debut, an early look at this week's matchup against the Carolina Panthers, and what to see from the Tampa Bay offense going forward.
It appeared your chemistry was spot on with Tom Brady. What have you attributed to your immediate success with him?
Godwin: "Honestly, we just had a little bit of time to work together. When you have a quarterback like Tom who has seen so much and played so much ball, that it can be more of a seamless transition with him in terms of coming in and putting the passes where they can be. He does a really good job of reading guys' body language and understanding where they are going to be. These are the things that will continue to improve."
How do you think Tom looked after his first game with the Buccaneers?
Godwin: "I think he did some really good things. Obviously there is some stuff we're going to have to clean up, you know some mental errors and some bad decisions, but there are things I think we can really build off of. I think we realized there were some plays that we missed that we were kind of killing ourselves. Once we fix those things, we'll be rolling. I'm really confident in that."
You played a game with Tom Brady and spent three years catching passes from Jameis Winston. What differences have you seen in both quarterbacks?
Godwin: "They are two completely different people. Their leadership styles are different. How vocal they want to be is different. The way the ball comes in the air is different. It's been cool playing with Tom so far. Obviously I'm looking forward to it and getting even better and I had a lot of fun playing with Jameis. They got two completely different games."
What did Brady say to you guys after the loss?
Godwin: "We just kind of discussed offensively that we made a lot of mistakes. You can't do that against a good team and expect to win. I'm fully expecting him to come ready to play this week during practice. We're looking to put together a good game plan and come out ready to compete with the Panthers."
I know you are facing a new scheme, but you had a lot of success against the Panthers in the past.
Godwin: "It's still going to be a challenge for us, given we've only seen one game of them. The thing about the Panthers defense is that they are always well coached and they are always flying to the ball. Even though I've always had success against them, it definitely didn't come easy. I'm just going to try to continue doing what I've been doing which is focusing on my assignments. When I do that, it's kind of when I'm playing at my best and I'm playing free. I'm looking forward to this challenge."
Now that the cobwebs are out, what do you expect from the Tampa Bay offense this week?
Godwin: "You'll expect us to bounce back. Like you said, we're dusting the cobwebs off. Sunday was our first time out there as a team with a lot of new pieces. I expect us to continue to build. Each week you are going to see more and more progress as we get more comfortable with each other, as we build our chemistry. It's a long road, but we are really just getting started."
You have the most 20+ yard catches since the start of last year. Do you feel that's a product of Bruce Arians trying to get you the ball downfield?
Godwin: "I think some of that is due to game planning. We do a really good job at putting our playmakers in space. I also think as a player when you get the ball in your hands you have to try and so something with it. For me, every time I'm trying to get (the ball) I'm trying to score. It's kind of funny because there will be a time where I'm trying to get past four or five guys and in my head if I just make one guy miss that could be a touchdown. That's the approach that I take, but there are a lot of factors that go into it."
Godwin was the first player to participate in the league's new "jersey swap" protocol this season. Since the league isn't allowing on-field jersey swaps this season due to COVID-19, the NFL partnered up with Tide, which will cover the cost of one replacement jersey per player -- all washed first and exchanged by mail.