If Sunday’s dropped passes are eating at Mike Evans, the second-year wideout didn’t let it show Wednesday afternoon.
“If I don’t get the outcome I want I’m just going to keep working,” Evans said from in front of his locker today. “So I’ve just got to keep working. I’ve done some good things. My bad days are 150 [yards], so that’s alright. If I can improve on that then it would be great.”
The 6-foot-5, 231-pound receiver turned another erratic performance during Tampa Bay’s 32-18 loss to the New York Giants that oscillated from impressive to frustrating from drive to drive. While Evans set a career-high in targets (19), tied his best mark in receptions (8) and topped 100 yards for the sixth time in 22 professional games, the six dropped balls he was charged with are reportedly the most by any player in a game in the last 10 years.
“It’s very hard, having a historically bad day when it should’ve been a historically great day,” Evans said. “But I can’t just keep whining about it, I’ve got to just go play. I’ve got to put it in the back of my mind and go play.”
Eight catches on 19 targets comes out to a low 42.1 percent catch rate. Especially with the continued absence of pass catchers Vincent Jackson, Louis Murphy and Austin Seferian-Jenkins, the offense relies on Evans to be its primary downfield weapon.
A greater issue, however, is that Sunday’s 42.1 percent catch rate isn’t too far off Evans’ season-long average of 44.4. Evans is tied for 28th with 538 yards and his catch rate is the lowest of the NFL’s top 50 receivers this year. He’s one of only three securing less than 50 percent of his targets. Jacksonville’s Allen Robinson (48.8) and Indianapolis’ T.Y. Hilton (48.9) are the others.
When asked about remedying the drops, Evans said it’s all about in-the-moment concentration. “When it wasn’t raining I took my eyes off a couple of them. That one third down in the second quarter, I took my eyes off of it. And then the pitch at the end, I tried to pitch it and took my eyes off that one, too. So I’ve just got to focus in on catching it before I make a move.”
Despite the low completion percentage, quarterback Jameis Winston has no plans to start checking off of Evans when dropping back to pass.
“I know he’s going to bounce back,” Winston said Wednesday. “That’s Mike. He’s a competitor and it’s rare that that may happen but I know he’s going to bounce back. He’s already put that behind him and we’re going to try to have another productive game this week.”