Mending The Mind

September 8th, 2016
It's often mental.

It’s often mental.

Joe always gets hammered when he hammers gifted receiver Mike Evans for not keeping his head in the game.

Evans, who may have the best footwork along the sidelines of any receiver Joe has seen in a very long time, lost his cool with opponents, screamed for flags before finishing his routes, jawed way too much with refs and, when Josh Norman got in his head, got run from a game.

Yesterday, in his first in-season weekly press conference as offensive coordinator of the Bucs, Todd Monken sure referenced mental and concentration issues with Evans. The first-year NFL coordinator focused on them in his task to get Evans right.

“I think [Evans has] had a great approach to his practice habits,” Monken said. “He’s done a better job with his off the field habits in terms of taking care of his body and preparing every day. Sometimes that’s the start of it, is taking care of yourself and then routine.

“And the next part is, it’s a drop, move on, next play. Coach [Dirk Koetter] preaches that all the time, next play. So I think he’s done a better job of that. Coaches, players, human beings, we’re going to make mistakes, let’s not let it lead to multiple mistakes, multiple drops. That’s counterproductive to moving the football.

“There’s no question [Evans’ drops got in his head]. He’s very competitive, very prideful. And so I think that there’s things that weigh on him. He gets frustrated very easily and he’s gotten better at that, of staying even-keeled. Frustrated with drops, frustrated when his body breaks down, frustrated with a number of things in his life. He wants it to go perfect; life’s not perfect. There’s things in your life like drops, things in your personal life – your body not feeling right. You’ve got to be able to move on.”

When Joe asked Monken if it was fair to suggest Evans’ issues with drops came down to a mentality and focus, Monken didn’t fully agree.

“I don’t know if I’d go that far,” Monken said. “There are some technical things in terms of hand placement, in terms of getting his eyes to the level of the ball that you’re trying to work on. But he’s got good enough ball skills. When you watch last year, [the drops] came in bunches, usually that’s a sign of mental [errors], in terms of putting too much pressure on yourself, the frustration.”

First, the level of detail Monken went through in breaking down Evans, Joe had never heard this before. No wonder this guy Monken turned around a winless college team like Southern Miss into a bowl team in three years.

And while Monken pushed back on the mental stigma — Joe understands why he did that; he’s covering for his player– it’s clear Evans often didn’t have his head in the game, which led to drops and other nonsense. Joe could smell this from the upper reaches of the press box.

It sure is good to know Evans seems on his way to ridding himself of his mental challenges. It sounds like this is the first time Evans has experienced the level of coaching Monken brings to the table.

Just another reason to get fired up for Bucs football in three days!

13 Responses to “Mending The Mind”

  1. Patrick in VA Says:

    I can’t say enough about what seems to be the best collection of coaches that we’ve had in a very long time. If Dungy’s coaching tree is part of what got him in Canton, then I’d say that if Koetter can keep his coaching talent evaluation up, Ira’s gonna have another pitch to make after Koetter and Jameis bring home a few trophies

  2. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:


    I have to agree. I’m a little reserved about Mike Smith’s defense, but the more I see of it the less concerned I am.

    Just a few days until the first game! Gonna be a slobbernocker!

  3. firethecannons Says:

    Mikey is married now, he can finally focus on football, no worries about the relationship or when he’s getting it next. Just football and taking care of hisself.

  4. tmaxcon Says:

    For the first time in Evans career he has a qualified NFL caliber WR Coach and not some personal assistant not even qualified to fetch my coffee. I expect great improvement and more consistency out Evans with qualified coaches.

  5. Bucsfanman Says:

    I can’t say this enough. If Mike has his head on right and cuts down on the drops, he’s a top 3 WR. The dude is an absolute beast!

  6. unbelievable Says:

    it’s clear Evans often didn’t have his head in the game

    I think that might be a stretch Joe. Remember 5 of the drops came in 1 game against the giants. Obviously he lost his cool against Josh Norman but I think saying he often didn’t have his head in the game is a reach.

  7. Buccfan37 Says:

    What a nice hire Monken was to the Bucs, this coach will improve this offense dramatically.

  8. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    Let’s reword things a bit here… I dont believe Evans “didn’t have his head in the game”. I’d say he couldn’t get out of his own head. His head is clearly in the game. He’s extremely competitive and hard on himself. To say his head wasn’t in the game or that he wasn’t focused implies that he doesn’t care or is taking it lightly.
    I believe it’s quite the opposite. And his case of the dropsies was more a result of trying too hard or over thinking things. This is the year it all comes together for Evans and he will put T.O. Type numbers.

  9. Joe Says:

    To say his head wasn’t in the game or that he wasn’t focused implies that he doesn’t care or is taking it lightly.

    No, it only implies his head wasn’t in the game. That was clear to a guy walking around with a white cane.

    You can be passionate about the game all you want. Doesn’t mean one is focused at the task at hand. Two totally different elements.

  10. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    But Joe, on the field, I’ve only heard coaches scream “get your head in the game” to players who jump offsides, line up incorrectly, miss an assignment or just seem to be playing slow. Maybe on a dropped pass, but I compare Evans’ issues more to a struggling kicker. It was in his head The screaming for penalties was a maturity issue, but the of drops were a mental struggle of confidence, not focus. His head is and was, indeed, in the game.

  11. Joe Says:


    More than once Joe saw Evans screaming at refs before the play was over. Once, Joe saw Evans quit on a route to b!tch at officials trying to get a flag. That clearly is a lack of focus. That is clearly undisciplined and locked locked in to the task at hand. That is clearly not having your head in the game.

    For Joe, that is all absolutely synonymous.

    Shoot, read Monken’s quotes. Even Evans’ position coach admits it.

  12. BigPoppaBuc Says:

    I’m not disagreeing with your point, Joe. Just the wording. No matter how we put it, Evans’ struggles last season were as you said, “often mental”. I’m just excited that it seems to be a hurdle he’s cleared. The opening preseason game he was robbed of an obvious P.I. call by the ref and he turned and jogged to the huddle. Hell, he was ejected in the finale last year for getting in the refs face. He’ll have to continue to bite his tongue with officials before they start giving him certain calls. That third preseason game had to be a huge boost to his confidence and I believe we’ll get to see an ELITE #13 on Sundays.

  13. Bob in Valrico Says:

    As Montgen said “you’ve got to be able to move on.”You have been in this rut for a long time now and beat this horse to this readers opinion.