As the Buccaneers prepare for the 2016 season, it seems they have the makings for one of the best duos in the league.
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It’s not often that a dynamic quarterback and dynamic wide receiver come into the league together, grow together, and can become one of the most dominant in football. Yet, that’s what the Buccaneers have in Jameis Winston and Mike Evans.
Think back: who were some of the best one-two punches that came up together in recent memory? Andrew Luck and T.Y. Hilton were both drafted by the Colts in 2012, Derek Carr was drafted in 2014 while Amari Cooper was drafted in 2015. Matthew Stafford was drafted in 2009 to join Calvin Johnson who was taken in 2007, and Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall were both drafted by Denver in 2006 and reunited in Chicago in 2012.
Now, you look at the emergence of Blake Bortles, a 2014 first rounder, paired up with Allen Robinson who was a 2014 second rounder, as well as Allen Hurns, an undrafted free agent in 2014. It’s not crazy to think that Winston and Evans can surpass all of these combos in the coming years to be one of, if not the most dominant quarterback – receiver combos in all of the NFL.
After one season, Winston and Evans connected 74 times for 1,206 yards and three touchdowns. Those are good numbers, but Evans left a lot of yards, and touchdowns, on the field last year with his drops. At the same time, Winston left a lot of yards and touchdowns on the field by not connecting on the deep ball consistently enough.
This is something Winston and Evans are making it a point to work on this offseason to add a new dimension to their game, as well as the Bucs’ offense. Evans has the talent to be one of the top receivers in the NFL, but his lack of focus at times has hampered his development into the Odell Beckham Jr. class of wideout. His inane ability to make highlight reel, circus catches, yet drop simple passes right between the numbers has made him a bit of an enigma.
Winston is going to continue to go through some growing pains, especially during year two as opposing staffs have more film and better ways to prepare for him. As good as Winston was in 2015, he’s going to have to be even better this season to avoid the dreaded “sophomore slump”. The deep ball is something he has to continue to develop, whether it’s passing to Evans or not. When the Bucs have the opportunity to strike on a deep pass, the ball can’t sail ten to fifteen yards over a wide open receiver’s head.
With continued work together this offseason, Winston and Evans are striving to make each other the best. They know that, together, they can take the NFL by storm and make the Buccaneers one of the most feared offenses in the league.
And knowing that these two are going to be in Tampa Bay together for years to come is enough to make any Buccaneers fan smile.