Buccaneers Game Day Spotlight: Mike Evans
By James Yarcho
For a Buccaneers team sorely lacking playmakers on offense, Mike Evans appears to be the man that must step up in the biggest way.
As I talked about yesterday, wide receiver Mike Evans is the only player left on this team that is a viable, reliable weapon on offense. In order for the Buccaneers to stand a chance against the NFL’s best offense, Mike Evans has to have a career day. In order to do that, Jameis Winston can’t afford to have another game where he’s “off”.
Evans is having a Pro Bowl caliber season and continues to be one of the best receivers in the league. However – as we saw against the Raiders – teams know they can take him out of the game by placing double, or even triple, coverage on him and forcing Winston to look at his other targets. Adam Humphries, Cameron Brate, and whoever the running back du jour is aren’t going to scare the opposing defense. They’ll let Winston throw to them all day long because none of those guys are game breakers or elite talents. At some point the Falcons know that Winston will try to force it to Evans and they can capitalize with either a big stop or a turnover.
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Evans has to assert dominance early on against a poor pass defense. Just like there isn’t a player on the Bucs that scares the Falcons outside of Evans, there’s no one on the Falcons that scares the Bucs in terms of being able to stop Evans – at least not one on one. Evans has to create separation, something he isn’t very good at doing, and win the jump balls to create big plays for the offense. We know Julio Jones is going to get his, and it’s up to Evans and Winston to answer back. Otherwise, this game can get out of hand in a real quick hurry.
We’ve seen the big catches Evans is capable of. We’ve also seen the big plays left on the field by Winston’s inaccuracies. For as exciting as those two players can be, there is absolutely no room for error tonight. None. The Buccaneers have to play a near flawless game if they are going to beat Atlanta for their first home victory in 2016 as well as their third divisional game this year.
The Falcons can gain a stranglehold on the division with a win in Raymond James Stadium. They would find themselves sitting at 6-3 with a victory, 2.5 games ahead of a then 3-5 Buccaneers team whom they’ve outscored by 110 points on the season.
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If that is the case, you can all but kiss this season goodbye.