Why Mike Evans Will Improve, Not Regress in 2015
By Jeff Smith
Mike Evans absolutely burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2014. Now the question is, what will his sophomore campaign look like? Could he be in for a sophomore slump? Not a chance.
Evans is going to not only be able to replicate what he did in 2014, but he’ll be able to improve on it, for a few different reasons. We knew from day one that the 6’5″, 230-pound Evans was a physical specimen, but I think even fans of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were a bit stunned by what he did for the team last season.
While I could sit here and rave about Evans for days and days, instead, let’s take a look at the reasons why Evans will improve his numbers in 2015.
His Potential Didn’t Show Immediately
Yes, Mike Evans finished his rookie year with 68 receptions, 1,051 yards and 12 touchdowns, but he didn’t really get it going right out of the gate. As expected for any rookie wide receiver, it took Evans a few games to really make a name for himself. Over his first six games of the season, Evans caught 25 balls for 336 yards and two touchdowns. The next six games? 32 catches for 599 yards and eight touchdowns.
The key for Evans is that he was a red zone nightmare for opponents. Even when he finished out the year with 11 catches over the last three games, while failing to top 54 yards, he still caught two touchdowns. Evans showed us what he’s capable of doing during the midseason stretch in 2014, but in 2015 we should see those impressive numbers all throughout the year.
Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Jameis Winston and Dirk Koetter
Yes, Jameis Winston is a rookie. The good news? He has Dirk Koetter teaching him the ins and outs of playing quarterback at the next level. Regardless, Winston is going to be an upgrade over Josh McCown, with all due respect to McCown. Throughout all of 2014, Evans was targeted 124 times and caught 68 passes.
To sum up how much quarterback play impacted Evans last season, look at the fact that Evans had just four drops all year, which equaled out to an impressive drop percentage of just 3.3 percent. That’s pretty impressive. Koetter had the opportunity to work with Matt Ryan and Julio Jones during his time with the Atlanta Falcons, and now he gets to work with Winston and Evans. Don’t turn your nose up at the potential connection that these two may put together right out of the gate.
Vincent Jackson, Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Louis Murphy and More
There’s no question that Evans is the best receiver on the team. With that said, there are absolutely other playmakers on the Bucs. Vincent Jackson is the definition of Mr. Reliable, while Louis Murphy is looking to build off his 31 catch, 380 yard and two touchdown season over 11 games last year. Austin Seferian-Jenkins may be the real dark horse when it comes to the success of Evans and the Bucs’ passing game next season. Winston is rumored to already have a solid connection with ASJ, and if he can have an immediate impact in the passing game next season, Mike Evans’ life gets a whole lot easier right away.
Oh, last but not least, there are a few other sleepers who could help out in the passing game, such as Kenny Bell and Robert Herron. Regardless, you get the idea, because if even two of those names above are able to step up, teams are going to struggle to be able to double up Evans.
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