Tom Brady has been sizzling over the past four games, throwing for 15 touchdowns and only one interception. But while the Bucs’ offensive scoring has gone up, the production from Pro Bowl wide receiver Mike Evans has come down.
Evans, who has battled an ankle injury for most of the season, has caught three passes for 47 yards over his last two games. Back in Week 1, Evans caught just one pass for two yards, and followed it up in Week 3 with two catches for two yards. All three of those receptions happened to be for touchdowns.
Even when seeing less production than we’re used to, Evans still leads the Bucs in touchdowns with six, and in targets with 39. The former All-Pro is tied with Chris Godwin for the team lead in receptions with 25.
As a leader of this team for many years, Evans will be the first player to tell you that he doesn’t care about personal accolades. He only cares about the Bucs winning because that’s the kind of player he is. It’s in his DNA.
And though Evans isn’t bothered by not getting the ball as much as he’s used to, Brady seems intent on making his star receiver more of a focal point in the passing attack.
“Mike [Evans], in my view, is one of the great players to play in the NFL,” Brady said. “He’s just spectacular. He’s got an incredible skillset, his attitude [and] his production – I wish I could get him the ball more. When you have a guy like that, you want to find ways at every opportunity to get him the ball. He’s doing a great job of getting open and he just has an incredible skillset.”
Evans production is down for several reasons. Although he’s played in every game this season, Evans has been hobbled in most of them, especially against New Orleans and Chicago. He’s also been heavily bracketed by most teams, with a cornerback underneath and safety help over the top.
The Bucs offense is also replete with playmakers, something that hasn’t been the case to this degree during any other point in Evans’ career. Godwin emerged last year as a bonafide stud, but the Bucs have lacked a WR3 with Scotty Miller’s big play ability, while rookie Tyler Johnson has been a pleasant surprise as a fifth round pick. Add in Rob Gronkowski’s re-emergence as a top target and the upcoming addition of Antonio Brown to the offense, and it’s easy to see how Evans’ opportunities have diminished with so many mouths to feed.
Evans might not eclipse 1,000 yards receiving for a record seventh consecutive season to begin his career (he would need to average over 75 yards per game over the next nine contests), but Brady is determined to get him more involved in the offense again, so you can bet more big games are coming for the Bucs captain.