When Bruce Arians spoke to the media on Friday following his first win as Tampa Bay’s head coach, he touched on some of the offensive weapons that entered the season with high hopes but have yet to meet those standards through two weeks.
O.J. Howard’s struggles have been clear, but Breshad Perriman and Mike Evans are two of Jameis Winston’s targets who have seemed to stumble out of the gate as well.
“You’re going to have to ask him,” Arians said when asked about Howard’s struggles. “He’s got so much talent and he can play a heck of a lot better than he’s playing.”
Evans was dealing with an illness in week one, hauling in just two of his five targets for 28 yards, but also caught just four of the eight balls thrown his way against Carolina for 61 yards. Perriman has seen similar issues with two receptions on five targets against the 49ers, totaling just 10 yards, while he couldn’t notch a single catch on any of his four targets in week two.
Arians believes that the tandem could have improved their statlines against the Panthers, with each of them failing to bring in a potential touchdown.
Near the midway point in the first quarter with the Bucs facing a third-and-2 at the Panthers’ 21-yard line, Winston threw a fade to Evans. It was a tough play to make and despite Evans getting a hand on the pass he couldn’t bring it in, leaving Tampa Bay to settle for a field goal, giving them a three-point lead at the time.
Then in the third quarter, backed up on third-and-13 from the Carolina 24-yard line, Winston fired to Perriman on a post route in the end zone but the Bucs’ new pass-catcher couldn’t haul it in as the ball went through his hands. Matt Gay would then fail to convert on the subsequent field goal, leaving three points on the field that nearly came back to bite the team.
“That was a great throw in the end zone, I thought [Perriman] would make that catch,” Arians said. “He slipped on a couple of routes but he was also wide open and we underthrew him. It ‘s some new chemistry but it’s funny because in the spring it just clicked automatically, Jameis never missed him deep, but with real bullets it’s different.”
Arians spoke on the two missed opportunities to Evans and Perriman.
“Those are two great balls,” Arians said. “They’ve got to come up with those. They’re talented enough to come up with those balls.”