QB Jameis Winston and WR Mike Evans are co-MVPs of Bucs offense – Photos by: Cliff Welch/PR
Between Jameis Winston, Mike Evans and Doug Martin in red and pewter, and Matt Ryan, Julio Jones and Devonta Freeman in red and black, there will be plenty of offensive firepower on display in the Georgia Dome when the Bucs start the 2016 season in Atlanta in an NFC South showdown with the Falcons on Sunday.
PewterReport.com polled its writers to find out who will be the 2016 Bucs Offensive MVP, and it turned out to be a split decision.
Scott Reynolds’ 2016 Bucs Offensive MVP: Jameis Winston
Winston is not only Tampa Bay’s franchise and an offensive captain, he’s also the heartbeat of the Buccaneers. Coming off a sensational rookie season in which Winston threw for 4,000 yards, led Tampa Bay’s offense past 6,000 total yards to set a team record and made the Pro Bowl, I’m looking forward to see how much growth he’ll have in his second year in Dirk Koetter’s explosive system.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston – Photo by: Getty Images
The Bucs are a run-first team that likes to use the play-action passing game to make big throws downfield. Running back Doug Martin will get his fair share of touches after signing a lucrative contract extension following a Pro Bowl year in which he ran for over 1,400 yards and was the second-leading rusher in the NFL, but he won’t account for as many yards or touchdowns as Winston will.
The same holds true for receiver Mike Evans, who should top the 1,500-yard mark and return to double digits in terms of touchdown catches in 2016. But Evans must rely on Winston getting him the ball to be successful. That’s why another superb year from Winston will make him Tampa Bay’s offensive MVP in 2016.
Winston accounted for 28 touchdowns (22 passing, six rushing) last year, and I expect that number will be closer to 35 this year as he has spent time working on both downfield accuracy with Evans as well as red zone passing. Look for Koetter to have Winston spread the ball around to a plethora of receiving targets, including Evans, Martin, Charles Sims, Vincent Jackson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Cameron Brate and Adam Humphries. The scoring will be spread around due to the multitude of weapons in Tampa Bay, but Winston will be the trigger man, and thus the MVP.
Mark Cook’s 2016 Bucs Offensive MVP: Mike Evans
After a year in which most would consider to be disappointing, Evans still managed to grab 74 passes for 1,206 yards. His 2015 numbers were even better than his rookie season of 2014 where the former Texas A&M star caught 68 passes for 1,051 yards in Tampa Bay. That ‘s the good part.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
The bad part is that his touchdowns dropped from a franchise-record 12 during his rookie year to just three in 2015, and Evans led the league in dropped passes. But this season could – and should – be the year he puts it all together.
Under the guidance of new offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Todd Monken, Evans could have a monster season. Evans only played one year of high school football and two years in college before being drafted in the NFL, so the 6-foot-5, 225-pound receiver is still somewhat raw in terms of football years.
With a great combination of athletic ability and size, there aren’t many NFL cornerbacks who can handle Evans one-on-one. With Jameis Winston in his second year, and an emphasis from Dirk Koetter to Winston to take more shots downfield when those opportunities present themselves, Evans should benefit.
Staying healthy is always key, and not just Evans, but Vincent Jackson as well. If Jackson misses any significant time, as he did last year in six games, it would most likely limit Evans effectiveness, but he’ll still lead the offense and finish this season as its MVP.
Zach Shapiro’s 2016 Bucs Offensive MVP: QB Jameis Winston
I believe the Buccaneers offensive MVP in 2016 will be Winston. Entering his second year after a Pro Bowl season in 2015, Winston has become the unquestioned leader of the Bucs. He’s more comfortable in the offense and commands the huddle. Winston knows head coach Dirk Koetter and QB coach Mike Bajakian even better and knows how to operate within Koetter’s scheme. On top of that, he’s built a solid chemistry with his receivers throughout the offseason and training camp.
Winston’s performance during training camp and in the dress rehearsal preseason game supports those points. While he started slow in Philadelphia and looked shaky in Jacksonville, the former No. 1 overall pick responded in the most significant exhibition game by completing 16-of-25 passes for 259 yards and two touchdowns in just one half against Cleveland. Moving in the pocket and keeping his eyes downfield, Winston was sharp through two quarters and his receivers were taking advantage. The Browns have their issues and there was hardly any game planning, to be sure, but I expect this type of performance from Winston to continue in the regular season.
Koetter is known to like to throw the ball downfield, and Winston seems like the perfect quarterback to team up with Mike Evans for that aggressive approach in the passing game. Though the Bucs have arguably the best running back tandem in the league and have emphasized the short passing game throughout the offseason and in training camp – bubble screens and check-downs have been prevalent – it’s clear by watching the games that Winston looks for big plays and isn’t afraid to take shots.
While the young quarterback, with his gunslinger mentality, may be prone to throw a few picks, I think he’s a playmaker above all and knows how to win. If the Bucs put together a winning season, as I predicted, it’ll be behind the arm of Winston.
Eric Horchy’s 2016 Bucs Offensive MVP: WR Mike Evans
Dirk Koetter may be entering Year One as the Bucs’ head coach but he already has a season’s worth of experience under his belt with a majority of the offense and young franchise quarterback Jameis Winston. There’s no reason to believe this year’s offense can’t at least match last season’s productivity.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Photo by: Mark Lomoglio/PR
The vast majority of 2015’s personnel that finished fifth in the NFL in yards per game (375.9) are back and ready to go. For the offense to take another step forward and make long drives end in touchdowns rather than field goals or worse will depend primarily on the growth of Winston.
One of the biggest areas of improvement to watch for as the second-year signal caller takes Tampa Bay into 2016 is his accuracy. And that doesn’t just mean completing more passes, it means hitting his receivers in stride on intermediate crossing and out routes and deep balls. Doing so will provide receivers more opportunities to stretch gains after the catch and create more high-impact splash plays.
The Bucs playmaker that may benefit most from a more-accurate Winston is wideout Mike Evans. He’s already shown what he can do in this league with back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons to start his career. The scary thing for opponents is that he’s put up those numbers despite leaving plenty on the table. While Winston needs to improve his overall pass placement, Evans needs to come out this year and simply make more catches on passes that should be hauled in. His 11 drops, according to SportingCharts.com, were more than any other NFL player.
Evans is also too big and talented to not be a bigger factor in the red zone this year. He followed up his 12-touchdown rookie total with a head-scratching three scores in 2015. The third-year pro finished just outside the top-10 in receiving yards last season with 1,206. As long as he stays on the field, Evans is motivated and set up to have a true breakout year in 2016.
Scott Reynolds is in his 23rd year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds enjoys giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: [email protected]
I’ll make this statement: if Winston and/or Evans is in chosen as the offensive MVP (over say Martin for having a great year running the ball), then I think D. Smith will have actually had the best year on offense…he won’t win an MVP award of course because he’s a lineman, but for Winston or Evans to rack-up serious passing/receiving yards, Winston is going to have to have time to throw.
Good choices there. But not too much of a reach. EEB said it true,maybe the linemen could maybe win it as a group. How about ASJ, maybe he could crack into MVP status. Just wishing actually.
ASJ is currently holding down the MVP “Most Vilified Player” spot Vette. Even though the Pewter Report scribes offed but two prime candidates, it’s easy for many to see the other major contributors like ASJ, Brate, Martin, Sims or the O-line.
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