2015 has been up and down for Mike Evans. First, he missed the first game of the year against the Tennessee Titans with a hamstring injury. He had a nice game in week 3 against the Texans, catching 7 balls for 101 yards. Then, for two weeks, hardly nothing. It made some fans wonder how hurt Evans truly was, or if he just hasn't been penciled in to this offense just yet.
Then Sunday happened.
Granted, it was a painful thing to watch. Being up 24-0 at the half, only to lose 31-30. But if there are any positives to take from that game, it's that Mike Evans had his finest performance this year. That pass from Winston to Evans was a thing, as Canadians say, "A thing of beauty eh."
Not only was it the game where Jameis Winston was flawless, but it was the game where Mike Evans came out and said, "Hey guys, don't forget about me."
Could this be the tandem that takes the Buccaneers to the next level? If Koetter gets Evans more involved in this passing game, watch out. You got to remember, this kid had an amazing rookie season where he had 1,051 yards receiving with 12 touchdowns. Just imagine once Winston really starts improving, and develops more of a relationship with his receivers, with Evans being the most notable.
This team could be very exciting for years to come.
Evans told Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Ira Kaufman after the game that he felt like the 2014 Mike Evans.
"I feel like my own self,’’ he said Sunday. "I feel really good and we had a lot of guys go down. We only had two receivers, but me and (Dontaa) Dye were out there fighting. We have to get our guys healthy and we could be dangerous.’’
And that's the key. Being healthy has not been an easy thing to do for these Buccaneers. It seems like every week, someone else is getting hurt, whether it be Evan Smith, Logan Mankins, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, and now Vincent Jackson and Louis Murphy. It is still undetermined if Jackson will miss playing time, but Murphy will be out the rest of the season with a torn ACL.
Dirk Koetter told Fox Sports on Thursday the reason why Evans hasn't had as many chances as he did in 2014.
''When you have multiple guys that need touches, it doesn't always work out perfect,'' Koetter added. ''We have to do what we have to do to try to win games. ... I'm sure Mike is a little bit frustrated. ... We've been down this road before with other guys. We've just got to get him started. There is nothing he is doing wrong. He's playing hard, he's practicing hard.''
Judging by Sunday's game, the Buccaneers are getting him started.
Going forward, the Buccaneers will have to lean on Evans, Charles Sims and ASJ to keep their passing game going. Jameis and his offensive corps will have a tough test this Sunday as they take on the ultra tough Atlanta Falcons. What a morale booster it would be for Evans and the Buccaneers if they can improve their passing game, and put some major points on the board against the 13th ranked offense in the NFL.
Hopefully, Evans will continue his string of 100 yard performances and show the NFL that he wasn't just some one year wonder. The most likely cause for Evans' dip in production this year was the lasting effects of his injury and the offensive coaches not making Evans one of Winston's primary targets. It seems like they were more comfortable having the running game take the pressure off Winston as he continues to learn on the fly.
Mike Evans is too good to be left out. Let's hope he can build on his game Sunday against Washington and reestablish himself as one of the more dangerous receivers in the NFL.
He has another chance this Sunday against Atlanta.