FAB 2. Evans A Legend In The Making
It wasn’t a great game for Buccaneers star wide receiver Mike Evans. Heck, it wasn’t a great game for anyone from Tampa Bay wearing white, pewter and red in Chicago on September 30 as the Bears trounced the Bucs, 48-10, and sent them into their bye week reeling and embarrassed.
But something good did happen in Chicago. Although he didn’t catch a touchdown for the first game all season, and he didn’t post a 100-yard receiving game as he did at New Orleans and at home against Pittsburgh, Evans did catch six passes for 59 yards versus the Bears.
Why is that significant?
Because now Evans has 338 catches for 5,005 receiving yards to go along with his franchise-record 35 touchdowns, which is the most career TDs by any Buccaneer.
Evans needs just 14 yards to become the Bucs’ all-time leading receiver, surpassing Mark Carrier’s 5,018 yards from 1987-92. That could come on Evans’ first reception on Sunday in Atlanta.
Keep in mind that Evans will have owned two of the most significant receiving records – yards and touchdowns – by the age of 25. Should he remain healthy, Evans could very well play for at least another seven years.
When told Evans about the record that is about to fall he was bewildered.
“I had no idea,” Evans said. “I’ve been fortunate. I played right away. I was a first-round pick, so I started getting balls right away in my rookie year. I’ve been a number one target since my rookie year and I’ve just been very fortunate to be in that position.
“It’s cool to break records but I don’t just want to break team records, I want to break world records. The Bucs have never really had a receiver be here that long to accomplish those things so I’m happy to be the first guy, set in stone, maybe after Mark and [Vincent Jackson] to play longer than them here. That’s the goal, to be the top guys with the Bucs and in the NFL period. It’s just something to keep chasing. That’s why records are there, so people can chase them and I’m going to do that. When I play, I’m trying to chase W’s too.”
Through the first four games of 2018, Evans has caught 29 passes for 426 yards and three touchdowns, which places him in a three-way tie for the team lead with fellow receivers DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin. With his touchdown catch against Pittsburgh on September 24, Evans caught his 35th TD pass and surpassed Bucs Ring of Honor member Jimmie Giles’ previous record of 34, which was set 32 years ago in 1986.
Evans is on pace to finish this season with 116 catches for 1,704 yards and 12 touchdowns. If that were to happen, the receptions and yardage Evans would accumulate this season would set new Tampa Bay records, and his 12 touchdown catches would tie his own record that he set as a rookie in 2014 and tied two years in 2016 when Evans made his first Pro Bowl.
So what other Buccaneers records is Evans chasing? Let’s take a look.
• Having the career receiving yards and receiving touchdowns records are two parts of the triple crown for any team’s leading receiver. The third for Evans will be the setting Tampa Bay’s career receptions mark. The current record is 430 catches by former running back James Wilder. Evans is 92 catches away from that milestone, and that record will probably have to wait until next year to fall.
• While Evans has recorded 12 touchdowns in a season twice, setting a new team mark for single season receiving TDs, Wilder set the record for the most touchdowns in a Bucs season with 13 rushing scores in 1984.
• Evans has had several two-touchdown games, but it wouldn’t be out of the question if he tied or broke Tampa Bay’s single-game record of four scores set by Giles in 1985 and tied by running back Doug Martin in 2012.
• Keyshawn Johnson set a team record for the most catches in a single season with 106 in 2001. Evans recorded a career-high 96 receptions in 2016 en route to his first and only Pro Bowl appearance. He’s currently on pace to hit 116 catches this year, as previously mentioned.
• Evans had five 100-yard games in 2015, but would nine this season to tie Mark Carrier’s record for most 100-yard games in a season, which was set in 1989. Evans already has two this year in four games.
• Speaking of Carrier, his 1,422 receiving yards in 1989 were the most in a single season in Tampa Bay history. Evans came close in 2016 with 1,321 yards, which ranks third in team history, and is currently on pace to smash this record.
• Evans came very close to eclipsing Vincent Jackson’s single-game receiving yards record of 216 set in 2012 with a 209-yard performance at Washington as a rookie in 2014. Most would agree that Evans has the talent to top 216 yards at some point before the age of 30.
• Wilder set the Bucs franchise record for catches in a game with 13 back in 1985, and that mark was later tied by running back Earnest Graham in 2007. Evans came close to tying that mark back in 2016 with an 11-catch game against Atlanta.
Will Sunday’s game against the Falcons be the day Evans challenges that mark? Historically, Evans has done well against the Falcons (see Fab 5).
“I think it’s that they play more man than New Orleans and Carolina,” Evans said. “New Orleans plays more man now, I guess because they’ve got better corners. The Falcons always play man and they’re pretty simple, they want it to be a one-on-one game. I love one-on-one matchups. That’s always tough for a DB going against a top receiver.”
Not only has Evans played well against Atlanta, he’s done well against just about everybody, amassing over 5,000 yards in just over four years and accomplishing so much. Another Bucs receiving record will fall on Sunday at the hands of Mike Evans.