“Make Mike Evans Great Again”

December 6th, 2017


Nobody should be surprised that Mike Evans is getting his hands on fewer footballs this season.

After all, the additions of DeSean Jackson and rookies O.J. Howard and Chris Godwin gave Tampa Bay’s passing game more options to complement Cameron Brate and Adam Humphries. I didn’t expect Evans to match his gaudy 2016 numbers: 96 catches for 1,321 yards and 12 touchdowns.

But no one expected this.

Evans will always be too talented to have a terrible season, yet he’ll be the first to admit he has regressed this fall. He’s not the reason the Bucs are 4-8, but he needs to be a big part of the solution going forward.

Unlike 2015, Evans isn’t dropping passes left and right or arguing with officials constantly, pleading for interference calls that don’t materialize.

He’s simply not making enough plays … and that’s on him.

Jackson’s presence, in theory, should have made opposing defenses think twice about committing additional resources to stop Evans. On paper, these two looked like Double Trouble.

Yet somehow, neither Evans nor Jackson has lived up to expectations as we head into the final quarter of a dreary Buc season.

Somebody please give No. 13 a map to the end zone. When Evans suits up Sunday against the Lions, he’ll be trying to score his first touchdown in six weeks.

The man’s wrecking a lot of fantasy teams.

Absurd Total

He’s still looking for his first 100-yard effort of the season, and that’s a travesty for a wide receiver of Evans’ caliber.

“I’ve never cared about the numbers,” he says. “I feel like I’m not playing that bad, but I’m not playing at the level I’m capable of — which is great.”

Before you raise an eyebrow, let’s acknowledge that Evans has played some great football for the Bucs since being selected in the first round of the 2014 draft. Before he’s through in pewter, he figures to own every meaningful franchise receiving record. He worked hard to improve his hands a year ago and the results were impressive as he led all NFL receivers in generating first downs.

This spring, Evans vowed to work on his big-play capability. He wasn’t happy with his paltry yards-after-catch numbers last year, and it’s still a major issue.

His absurd total of 105 yards after the catch is matched by Howard, who has been targeted 69 fewer times. Where are the big plays?

Final Four

Tampa Bay fans who see Antonio Brown and Julio Jones take over games have to wonder why Evans isn’t more dominant. Evans has six catches of 20 yards or more — Brown and Jones have combined for 38.

Evans doesn’t seem to be as mentally focused as last season. He lost his cool in New Orleans and was suspended for one game after a sideline incident. He appeared visibly frustrated when shadowed by Minnesota’s Xavier Rhodes and Arizona’s Patrick Peterson.

These final four games offer an opportunity to make Mike Evans great again.

“It’s always important to finish strong, whether it’s five games in the NFL or five points in Ping-Pong,” he says. “I always want to win. Jobs are on the line.”

So are reputations.

Ira Kaufman is the most beloved, revered and esteemed Buccaneers columnist in town. He has hung his hat at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters since July 2016. Tampa Bay’s only Pro Football Hall of Fame voter, Ira busts out columns here every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and his award winning podcasts fire Tuesdays and Thursdays. You can also see Ira every football Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on FOX-13, Scott Smith’s Tailgate Sunday.

22 Responses to ““Make Mike Evans Great Again””

  1. LovieBall Says:

    Maybe he should stop leaving his feet to catch the ball.

  2. JonBuc Says:

    I blame Ira as he predicted Evans would take the “next step” to all pro status this season…a Brooklyn Bamboozle if you will. 🙂 He probably has yet to earn a contract extension ( at least for what he and his agent think he’s worth )…especially with a new GM being a very real possibility for next season. His price has gone down more quickly than a Stick Carriers tank top!

  3. Son of Kobe Faker Says:

    trade him for a 2nd round pick

    Godwin can run after catch and is equally as good

    grudogs offense will run thru OJ, Godwin, Bobo and Barber out of the backfield

    Son of Kobe Faker

  4. Lamarcus Says:

    But but but….. Majority of fans wanted this result of me13….. Those said fans b*tched about his “too many” targets.

    Well he is not targeted and he is having an off year. I would stand by what I said. The more u target Me13 the better for the offense.

  5. Bucsfanman Says:

    That we are even having a conversation about Mike not being more involved is a head-scratcher. Football is NOT rocket science! Get the ball into the hands of your play-makers.

  6. DB55 Says:

    Curious if Ira actually watches the games or if he just drinks ice cold beer at Abe’s while stuffing his face with beets?

    Cuz if he watched the game he’d know that Koetter called like 100 screen plays to Undrafted Barber and undrafted hump while his pro-bowl receivers played decoy. He’d also know that last week ME was targeted 12 Times for 6 catches.

    How do I get a job as a TB sports writer? Do I actually need to know how to right bc obviously i don’t need to know a got dam thing about football or what’s going on with the team but again wtfdik.

  7. Joeypoppems Says:

    1 great year
    1 down year
    1 great year
    1 down year

    I hope this isnt a trend

  8. jerseybuc Says:

    No YAC because he is basically standing still on most balls thrown his way and then clobbered. OR, the pass is right on the sideline and he has to dive to catch or stay in bounds. Watch Brady hit his WR’s in stride, we don’t do that here. Not sure if it is the playcalling, lack of time given to the QB by the O line, or 3 is late getting the ball out.
    Everyone blaming the coaches but we have an awful lot of so called top players who aren’t playing up to their pay grade.

  9. DB55 Says:


    Not 100 accurate. Most passes are slants. He catches and gets down to avoid hits.

  10. BucThis Says:

    There once was a NFL team
    Who achieved the ultimate dream
    On that special January day
    The Super Bowl champs resided in Tampa bay
    Life was fruitful and grand
    With tens of thousands of fans in the stands
    And then to everyone’s surprise
    With an NFL franchise previously on the rise
    A decision by the almighty glazer
    To cut our captain like a razor
    It’s been a decade since we read that statement
    And now we reside in the NFC South basement
    We’ve had 4 wrong captains who cannot lead
    While the fans in stands continue to bleed
    We yearn for a team Who can consistently succeed
    And for a running back who we can constantly feed
    But we’re stuck in the curse that continues to lurk
    And about to fire another captain by the name of Dirk
    Once again we fell for all hoop and hype
    But one thing remains the same,
    It’s a sad Bucs life

  11. Pickgrin Says:

    DB55 says:

    “How do I get a job as a TB sports writer? Do I actually need to know how to right”

    Bahahahaha. That’s comedy gold right there. I imagine you would prefer to play it off as intentional but I’m doubting that was actually the case.

  12. Pickgrin Says:

    Cute poem BucThis

  13. BucThis Says:

    Hey, I try. I need to release the anger and sadness that I have about this team somehow..

  14. DB55 Says:

    My sarcasm is on fleek bro. You like that one? I thought it was pretty good.

  15. B Coburn Says:

    Feel like all receivers have regressed this year, not just Evans. Wondered if Monken hasn’t been able to coach them as much as an oc now

  16. Dlavid Says:

    Mike is not worth the big dollars he and agent will be pursuing . Ira is wrong about his looking for a flag after every incomplete catch . He has started that again yet not in as an exaggerated fashion . No YAC yards to speak of . He is a glorified possession receiver . He is no leader on this team and still exhibiting immature behavior which seems to be a common thread amongst several young players . Let him walk , skip the fifth year option . This team has to many needs ( Grimes 35 years old , no corner ; D edge rusher , D tackle position aged , RB , O line not complete …… and on and on we go . This team in perpetual mud hole unable to get out .

  17. Wausa Says:

    Mike Evans has not looked good at all this year.

    I think he’s a great receiver but this has not been a year where he has gotten better.

  18. ndog Says:

    No WR can be considered great with zero after the catch ability. If you have to rely on a high volume of targets or constant deep balls then your totals are always going to be up and down. He has probably already reached his ceiling as he is to slow and has no moves to make anyone miss. Sadly he is a really good possession receiver that was drafted with the 7th overall pick.

  19. lightningbuc Says:

    Mike took a knee on the entire season.

  20. bucs_365 Says:

    Sometimes I wonder if Evans has enough speed to take over games. I also notice that he tends to leap for passes even when the ball is reachable, which makes a difference in YAC… If you’re catching it in stride and just continue to run, you’re more likely to have high YAC. Also, Jameis throws him a lot of jump balls which don’t generate YAC. Jameis is not a pinpoint QB either, so it’s less likely the ball will be caught in full stride – many of Jameis throws require some adjustment. Also, Evans gets separation by being big and physical, not by blowing by people.

  21. Bob Higginbotham Says:

    Thanks again Ira for your classy work!

  22. Destinjohnny Says:

    I feel like dirk went way to easy in otA and camp
    3 is who he his. Not a bust but not elite.
    17th best qb.
    O line needs 3 pieces and we need a back.
    We have 6-10 talent .