Although the Buccaneers once again found a way to lose in Cleveland, 22-17, the seventh loss didn’t come without a dose of optimism for the team’s future. From an offensive perspective, backups Bobby Rainey and Oneil Cousins looked more comfortable in their roles than running back Doug Martin and left tackle Anthony Collins did, respectively.
Though the clear-cut, most impressive player on the field for the Buccaneers was rookie wide receiver Mike Evans, the team’s first-round pick this year.
The Texas A&M star had a career-high 124 yards on seven receptions, while scoring both of the Bucs’ touchdowns on a pair of 24-yard catches on Sunday. Following the game, Bucs head coach Lovie Smith took time out from reflecting on his team’s mistakes to praise the 2014 first round pick.
“He’s going to be a great football player,” Smith said. “He’s played better and better each week and was almost unstoppable at times today.”
Despite his season high performance, Smith felt that there were still big play opportunities for Evans left on the field.
“There were a few other times where we needed to get him the football, where he could’ve made some other plays,” Smith said. “He’s a tough matchup when you’re playing man-to-man with his size. He can catch the ball and all of that.”
With Pro Bowl defensive back Joe Haden guarding Vincent Jackson most of the afternoon, Evans took full advantage of Browns corner Buster Skine and rookie Justin Gilbert, Cleveland’s first-round draft pick. The Buccaneers know that when opponents focus primarily on Jackson with their top cover conrer, it will only create more opportunities for the 6-foot-5, 230-pound rookie, who now has 32 catches for 460 yards (14.3 avg.) and four touchdowns on the season and is Tampa Bay’s receiving leader.
“He did a great job,” said quarterback Mike Glennon. “All game they were putting Joe Haden on Vince, and Mike stepped up. We talk about all the time how teams are going to have to figure out how to cover the two of them. If they want to put their one guy on Vince then Mike’s going to have the type of day that he did. As we’ve been saying, he’s been improving every game. He’s proven that he’s already one of the better receivers in the NFL.”
Evans is the first Tampa Bay rookie to record 100+ receiving yards in a game since Arrelious Benn did it in 2010 (122 yards at Washington, Dec. 12, 2010). He is the first Buccaneer to record multiple receiving TDs since Tiquan Underwood did it last year at Detroit.
Evans is also the first Buccaneers rookie with multiple receiving scores since Mike Williams accomplished that in 2010 against Seattle, and is only the second Tampa Bay rookie to accomplish the feat (Horace Copeland at Atlanta on October 31, 1993).
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
Contact him at: [email protected]
I agree 100% ZS. Although Cousins was playing against the team that let him go so this performance has to be taken with a grain of salt. The same could be said for Rainey, but he’s played this this before this season.
“..but he’s played LIKE this before this season.” That’s the only thing I don’t like about the new website; we can’t edit our comments.
Evans is bonafide star material. We need to get Sefarian-Jenkins performing at a high level. Vincent Jackson will likely be traded to the Eagles at the end of the season (see Profootball talk). Now if we can just figure out how to get WR Dorial Green-Beckham in the draft, we won’t miss a beat!
For such a young man Evans displays a lot of maturity. Had Glennon been able to locate the ball a little better our star in the making would have had an even better day. I’d buy his game jersey if it weren’t for the Scubog curse.
Now all we need is a QB that can hit the WR’s in stride and we will have a dangerous offense. This draft we need a Franchise QB and then OL. Get Suh in FA, then we might have a team that can make some noise in the playoffs.
Evans is a budding star. A hit for Licht. About time we didn’t blow it on our first round pick. His only issue is conditioning. I diagree with those that say he doexn’t break free. He was wide open on at least four occasions and Glennon couldn’t deliver the ball. He is outperforming where Megatron was his first year. Let’s remember he missed all of one game and parts of two others. 1,000 receiving yards and ten touchdowns is still well within range.
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