Another week, another great win for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers -- both times because of Mike Evans.
The Bucs are off to a 2-0 start thanks to an all-around team effort, but it's impossible to deny how instrumental Evans has been in helping the offense find its groove. Baker Mayfield is justifiably carrying the torch after back-to-back wins, but he's leaned on Evans in both games in huge moments.
Last Sunday Baker hooked up with Evans before halftime to get the Bucs into the endzone for the first time. It came at a time when the Bucs were trailing and Mayfield was an abysmal 3-for-11 with just 12 yards passing; it was the sort of situation where we watched the wheels come flying off last season and hope got buried.
After that touchdown, the Bucs offense found its rhythm and Baker started to settle in -- the result was a win.
This week Baker found Evans for multiple big throws, but none bigger than a phenomenal touchdown catch in the third quarter. The score put the Bucs up by double digits and ended up being the difference between the Bears driving to win the game in the fourth quarter and needing to tie it.
Shaq Barrett's pick six ended up being the true difference in the game, but this touchdown by Evans was even more crucial. If this doesn't happen, the Bucs probably settle for a field goal and the fatal final drive for the Bears has entirely different context that might not have put them under as much pressure as they were.
Even though Evans didn't have a traditional game-winning catch, he's accounted for what amounts to game-changing plays in back-to-back weeks.
All of this is happening against the backdrop of Evans needing a new contract.
Baker Mayfield sounds like he's lobbying for Mike Evans to get paid
Evans and the Bucs were unable to come to terms on a contract extension before the season, putting him in a position where he could leave after the season in free agency. That's a bridge we'll have to cross in March, but so far Evans has done everything right to make the case he should get paid what he thinks he's owed instead of what the Bucs were offering.
Baker Mayfield seems to feel the same way.
After the game, Mayfield praised Evans and basically told the Buccaneers to pay him what he's worth. He didn't come right out and say that word for word, but it wasn't hard to read between the lines of his comments.
"We're lucky to have him" speaks volumes, and is a step away from 'and we'd better not lose him'.
This is more than just a quarterback trying to stick up for one of his guys, it's creating a situation that will put pressure on the Bucs. If the plan is for Mayfield to be the long term solution for the Bucs, it would behoove everyone to keep Evans around to make his life easier.
So far we've seen a small sample size of what Baker and Evans can do together, and the result has been two straight wins. We have a long way to go but it quickly starting to look like it's in the Bucs best interest to find a way to keep Baker and Evans together.