One interesting thing to see when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers face a new opponent is how analysts covering opposing teams see the Bucs—especially the ones who go into a lot of depth. It gives you a pretty unbiased view of the Bucs’ strengths and weaknesses.
That’s why I really like Arif Hasan’s breakdown of Mike Evans’ game over at Zone Coverage. Hasan covers the Vikings, mostly from a film breakdown perspective, and he’s a very critical reviewer—of the Vikings, and of their opponents. So when his basic conclusion of an article on how the Vikings are going to stop Mike Evans is “they can’t”, that makes me pretty happy.
I exaggerate a little, but that really is what he writes: Evans has a ton of positive qualities that make it very hard to actually eliminate him from any game. He’s not just big and fast, he also has short-area quickness—Hasan shows one clip where Evans is better in stopping and starting than Adam Humphries—and the skills to work through press coverage.
The only hope the Vikings have is that Xavier Rhodes is worth all that money they gave him. Which he probably is—but even then, cornerbacks are always at a disadvantage against receivers, and they will get beat.
One concerning aspect of this breakdown is the lack of route adjustment to blitzes. I’ve noticed that before, too: there are very few quick throws available when opponents blitz. Protection just has to keep up for just long enough—or Winston has to take the sack or scramble. Mostly scramble, then.
That’s a bit of a concern, but not much of one given the team’s talent at every skill position. And if Mike Evans really can’t be stopped, the passing game shouldn’t be a huge issue anyway.