With Vincent Jackson returning to health, how much does he really bring to the Buccaneers’ offense?
In life, the leader often isn’t much without his second in command. The lead singer sounds better with the background singers behind them. The CEO always has a trusted “right hand man”. For the Buccaneers, the second in command we are talking about is known to some as “V-Jax”, Vincent Jackson.
His value to the offense is huge. Take a look at Mike Evans for all of the proof that you need.
In his rookie year, Evans caught 68 passes for 1,051 yards, with the big number being 12 touchdowns. Last year with Jameis Winston, his catches went up to 74, his receiving yards went up to 1,206, but his touchdowns were way down at three. Keep in mind, two Bucs’ quarterbacks combined to throw 21 touchdowns in 2014, and Winston threw 22 touchdowns. The numbers were virtually the same for the offense through the air.
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What changed? The quarterback was a better quarterback in 2015. But, they didn’t have “V-Jax”.
The stat that jumps out is Evans’ numbers in the red zone. In 2014, Bucs’ quarterbacks targeted Evans 13 times. He caught eight of the passes, and six of them went for touchdowns. Compare that to 2015, when Evans was targeted 14 times, but only caught two passes, both for touchdowns.
Why such a difference? Mike stands at 6’5″ tall. He is essentially a redwood tree. His college scouting report indicates that Evans is an “outstanding leaper with “above-the-rim” skills to go over top of smaller DBs and highpoint throws”. A player like this should never go through a season with only three touchdown receptions.
The question is, why? The difference was, and is, Jackson. Jackson is another 6’5″ receiver that simply put, takes attention away from Evans. With two guys that tall available in the red zone, Evans didn’t get all of the attention, allowing him to score 12 touchdowns, half of them in the red zone.
Adam Humphries, who to his credit, stepped up to catch 27 passes last year, stands at a mere 5’11” tall. No matter how you a receiver might be, being that small does not draw a lot of attention near the goal line. Look at the receiving touchdown leaders from last year. More than half of the players in the top ten stand over six feet tall, per NFL.com. Scoring touchdowns as a receiver is a tall man’s game.
Mike Evans has and will be good whether or not Jackson is on the football field. But with him on it, Evans and the Bucs’ offense should take things to the next level, especially through the air.