It’s Tough to Watch the Buccaneers, But It’s a Joy to Witness the Growth of Mike Evans


The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are 1-8 this season, but I am still smiling. Why? Because every time I watch the Buccaneers play, it’s difficult to not get hopefully optimistic about the team’s future when Mike Evans is out on the field.

Prior to the 2007 NFL Draft, I was repeatedly hoping and praying that the Detroit Lions and Cleveland Browns passed on this impressive wide receiver coming out of Georgia Tech named Calvin Johnson. Maybe you heard of him? Admittedly, the Lions and Browns would be crazy to pass on a guy with Johnson’s physical and skill set, so that pipe dream died out fairly quickly.

May 8, 2014; New York, NY, USA; Mike Evans (Texas A&M) poses with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected as the number seven overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NFL Draft to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Radio City Music Hall. Mandatory Credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Prior to the 2014 NFL Draft, the Buccaneers had the seventh overall pick and I wanted them to select a potential franchise quarterback because I didn’t believe in Mike Glennon. Maybe Teddy Bridgewater? Or, how about taking a chance on Johnny Manziel? Instead, they selected Mike Evans. Not a surprising move, but I wasn’t Megatron-excited over the decision.

After nine games, I’m Megatron-excited about Evans’ potential career with the Buccaneers. Because of his incredible size, Evans looks like a man against boys but that could only go so far. Then, there are moments like this one

I have probably seen this play 10 times already. Now, excuse me while I watch this loop a couple more times. Look at the hands. The field awareness to keep both feet inbounds. The utilization of his height. It kind of reminds me of this play he made in the same game… 

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It was understandable that there was going to be a learning curve with Evans as he grew accustomed with the NFL game. However, after eight games played in the league, the 21-year-old looks like the front-runner for Offensive Rookie of the Year with 585 receiving yards on 39 catches with five touchdowns. Last week, I couldn’t help but rave about how far Evans has come along and I’m back at it again. But it makes sense.

The Buccaneers could very well go 1-15 this season. Obviously, I hope that isn’t the case, but I will still be grinning from ear-to-ear. There are still plenty of issues to address: shoring up the defense, getting a different punter, finding that franchise quarterback and figuring out the offensive line struggles. But, when you have a promising, and potentially dominant, skill position player already on your roster, the future can feel just a little brighter.