Mike Evans is already arguably the best receiver in Buccaneers’ history. He’s gone over 1,000 yards in every season so far and was on the cusp of breaking into the top tier of NFL receivers. Now he’s looking at an interesting challenge when his quarterback Jameis Winston misses the first three games of the season.
If there’s one thing we know, it’s that Evans can produce no matter who is slinging the rock. In his rookie season - a 2-14 finish for the Buccaneers - he had Josh McCown and Mike Glennon. Yet, he managed to still finish his rookie campaign with 1,051 yards and twelve touchdowns on 68 receptions in fifteen games.
Now, he’ll turn to veteran journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick to feed him the ball and put the Bucs in a position to move the chains and reach the end zone.
Of Fitzpatrick’s three starts, Evans only played in two of them. He was suspended for the game against the Jets for his hit on Marshon Lattimore in New Orleans. However, in those two games that Evans and Fitzy did play together, there is some slight cause for concern.
Evans had fourteen receptions on 32 targets with 265 yards and a touchdown. He did move the chains, gaining a first down on thirteen of the fourteen receptions but Fitz seemed to have a far better connection with DeSean Jackson, Chris Godwin, and Adam Humphries. While Evans had a 43.8% catch percentage, DJax, Godwin, and Humphries all finished over 62%, hauling in 43 receptions on 67 targets.
This isn’t alarm bells ringing and panic in the streets, but it is certainly something to keep an eye on in training camp to see how well Fitz and Evans are doing. They certainly have som chemistry to work on and will have plenty of time to do so before the week one match-up with the New Orleans Saints.
Evans is one of the best receivers in football, no matter who is under center, but Fitz has to make sure he puts Evans in position to make plays and be the receiver we know he is.