As the Buccaneers take the biggest of stages Sunday night in Jerry World, they will have to lean on receiver Mike Evans to have a bounce back performance after two disappointing weeks in a row.
I broke one of my own rules last week as Vernon Hargreaves was the first Buccaneers player to appear in the game day spotlight for a second time. With as hot of a streak as we’ve been on selecting our spotlights, I figured why not break that rule again? Mike Evans was our spotlight player for the Thursday night game against Atlanta. He dominated, with eleven receptions for 150 yards and two touchdowns.
That was also the Bucs’ last loss. But, you already knew that.
The Dallas defense is not great. In fact, they rank 23rd in the NFL with only fourteen takeaways. Their secondary? Well, they rank 31st in the league with only five interceptions, two more than last place Jacksonville.
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They also rank 31st in the NFL in opponent completion percentage, allowing quarterbacks to complete a whopping 69.7% of passes. This bodes well for the Jameis Winston/Mike Evans combination that has been missing the past two weeks.
Against San Diego, Evans has only three receptions for 38 yards. Against New Orleans – one of the worst secondaries in all of football – he had four catches for 42 yards. No touchdowns in either game which marks the second time in five weeks Evans has been kept out of the end zone in consecutive games. Yes, in the last five games, Evans has only two touchdowns – both against the Seahawks in week 12.
In front of the entire nation, Evans has an opportunistic match-up that he can get himself back on track. Winston has done a great job of not forcing him the ball, which he had a tenacity for that usually resulted in a turnover. For Dallas – who will be without Morris Claiborne again – Evans will be the focal point of the defense. Unfortunately for them, they don’t have anyone who can match up with him in terms of size or skill.
I expect Jameis Winston to take a few more shots than normal to Evans tonight. Not only does he stand a very strong chance of winning those 50/50 jump balls, but if he doesn’t he will draw quite a few flags.
This game has all the makings of a major Mike Evans performance. Just like their last prime time game, the Bucs will showcase their offensive superstars in Winston and Evans, but hopefully with different results than that Thursday night nightmare.
We’re on a hot streak with our spotlight players. Mike Evans will help make that six in a row.