Bucs receiver Mike Evans was visibly frustrated after getting flagged for offensive pass interference during a 21-17 game in the fourth quarter last Sunday.
WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
He caught just three of six targets for 38 yards in San Diego, all season lows for his Pro Bowl campaign. Evans later expressed his discontent on the sideline during an unusually quiet Sunday.
But those days will happen occasionally as other teams take notice, offensive coordinator Todd Monken said Wednesday. Monken, who could be seen trying to calm Evans before he responded with a 2-point conversion reception, seemed to suggest the Chargers’ were keying in on the No. 1 receiver – which ultimately shows respect.
“There becomes this mounting pressure [for Evans] of, I’m supposed to catch eight or 10 balls a week and score a couple of touchdowns and I’m the first guy to this and that, and all of a sudden it doesn’t happen,” Monken said. “Well, that’s respect. People know where you’re at by your size, your balls skills, by your developing route running, so I think that’s a big part of it. He has to understand that we’ve got to do a good job of putting him in position.”
Six-foot-5 and physical, Evans probably doesn’t get the same calls as other elite receivers in his company. He’s more prone to draw offensive pass interference, too. But Monken doesn’t want that to discourage or distract him.
“Don’t waste your energy out of frustration,” Monken said he tells Evans, reminding him that heavier and more physical coverage on one player will create opportunities for the rest of the offense.
“You’re going to get grabbed, you’re going to get held,” he said. “They’re going to play physical because you like to pull and grab yourself, so it’s going to be one of those things.”
Evans, for his part, has responded well to coaching, particularly Monken’s advice. He attributed his maturation to getting married over the offseason and the birth of his second daughter, as well as simply having another year under his belt in the pros.
“The way the game went Sunday, I think last year I would’ve lost it, not getting calls and things like that,” Evans said. “But I’m just trying to do what I can to help my team win. Coach Monken has been working with me before, during and after practice getting extra routes in, extra catches. I like the way he pushes me.”
Evans has been targeted an NFL-most 139 times, catching 76 passes for 1,058 yards (both third most) and 10 touchdowns. Monken credited head coach Dirk Koetter for finding ways to get Evans the ball this season, and assured reporters that the strategy will continue.