Making Mike Evans

February 25th, 2017

Developing a Pro Bowler.

No, Joe isn’t all down on the PFF tribe. Sometimes — especially when they steer clear of their knee-slapping offensive line grades and phantom breakdowns of pass routes, they do good work.

This is an example.

Matt Claassen has a neat breakdown of the development of Mike Evans, one that’s not bogged down in statistical debris and wacko acronyms.

In short, Claassen believes one reason Evans blew up last year is he finally realized he has physical skills few other receivers have and fewer corners can defend.

His good play was not just that he was racking up yards, but how and when he was gaining them. Evans converted a whopping 83.3 percent of his 96 receptions into either first downs or touchdowns, the highest rate among wide receivers (min. 40 receptions). His 80 combined first-down and touchdown receptions were most in the regular season. Evans was just as clutch on third and fourth downs, with a league-high 29 receptions that went for first downs or touchdowns, four more than the next wide receiver.

On top of all of that, Evans often made difficult catches that few others are capable of making. A highlight reel could be put together from a handful of Evans’ games that would amount to a season’s worth of clips for most receivers. He also performed well against some very good defensive backs. Richard Sherman, Patrick Peterson and Desmond Trufant were among those in primary coverage who Evans scored touchdowns against this year. Evans made big strides upon his first two seasons.

The fact nearly 85 percent of his catches were first downs or scores, that is significant AF. That is just huge.

But Claassen overlooked Evans’ greatest improvement, which led to results. He grew up. He’s mature, and not necessarily physically.

Remember when winning Bucs coach Dirk Koetter brought in Todd Monken as offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach? Monken said his main responsibility was to fix Evans. Before Monken arrived, Evans on the field of play reminded Joe of what Raheem Morris used to call Aqib Talib, “Wild child.”

It sure seemed Evans was more concerned at baiting referees and mouthing off at opponents than anything else, and Josh Norman exposed that weakness.

Evans was also way too quick to give up on a route when he thought he was interfered with — flailing his arms in the air trying to draw a flag. His many drops in 2015 also seemed more mental than physical.

Monken’s ability to channel Evans’ emotions into being a better player worked wonders.

28 Responses to “Making Mike Evans”

  1. Joeypoppems Says:

    If Mike Evans was in New York or Dallas or any of the big media markets, he would be a superstar. Lucky for us he is in Tampa Bay!

  2. WhatdaBUCisthis Says:

    Yo…. The best turn around I’ve ever seen

  3. Bird Says:

    He is the other meaning for the term “beasteality”

  4. 941BUC Says:

    @JOEYPOPPOMES Jameis and Evans are putting TAMPA BAY on the map!not just them but the entire defense including Koetter and Mike Smith!Tampa Bay will be a big name team/city come December 2017.

  5. BKNYfootballhead Says:

    Thanks for the laugh, Bird. Lol

  6. Birdman Says:

    This year I noticed Mike Evans bear-clawing the ball every time he caught it. Add on top of that the fact he mellowed out little bit and all of the sudden all the worries we had about him have evaporated in one fell season.
    What a player, can’t wait til he’s locked up af.

  7. SB Says:

    Guys….I live almost 3,000 miles away. Mike Evans IS a Superstar. There is only One other Bucs fan in this town but Every football fan here knows about Mike Evans.

  8. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    @SB Heck yeah, the way it should be. But it probably took him a while to gain that national recognition. Unlike OBJ, where he was a national superstar after a few games.

    I think what Joey is saying is that, if Mike Evans were in New York, he would have blown up a lot faster nationally. And you would hear about him incessantly in the media sports networks.

  9. LakeLandBuc Says:

    PFF grade players the way they should be graded.

  10. Stu Says:

    ME had a fantastic season. A one year attitude adjustment does not make a careers worth, but it is a good start.

  11. Buc1987 Says:

    Okay Joe thanks for keeping me stoked. Without seeing FA, the draft and barring injuries I think this whole damn team is going to be beasting next season.

    I believe it.

  12. LakeLandBuc Says:

    PFF did have Mike Evans 12th on their Top-101 List. Brent Grimes was ranked 43rd and GMC was ranked 73rd. I follow PFF through the Draft Process, Free Agency and throughout the season.

  13. Destinjohnny Says:

    Imagine if he had a strong 2 and 3 wideout and a really good tight end to take pressure off.

  14. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    I recall draft night 2014,my heart was pounding in my chest in anticipation with fingers crossed that ME would be the pick. The bills moved up and I like Fred Sanford use to do I grad my chest thinking they would snag ME. Thankfully they didn’t. People ME just scratching the surface on his potential. Someone was being sarcastic by comparing him to Hines Ward,from a physicality standpoint yes. But the way he high points and then bear claws a ball I always find myself thinking Randy Moss. No I’m not saying he’s Randy but to me he’s somewhere in between Hines and Randy. I shutter to think what he’ll do with someone quality on the other side. I’m feeling Guzzie’s idea, how about we kick the tires on Josh Gordon. I’ll take him and kill your Terrell Pryor desire any day.

  15. Fred E. Buc Says:

    Yeah to all that in the article, but guys like Evans have a tendency to regress, and this can happen ESPECIALLY if VJax is gone. VJax was the father figure/role model that would get on Evans’s azz. Now Evans is the “leader” when they draft a new guy. Not so sure I’m confortable with that. I’d almost like to see them get a WR in free agency.

  16. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    @NosBos Freaking Lol I was right there with you man. I literally had my hands clasped together praying for us to Draft Mike Evans and not Johnny 8Ball.

    And yeah Hines Ward is not an apt comparison, and while his ball skills and acrobatic catches are on par with Moss, he’s not the same kinda burner he was.

    So I’d have to compare Mikey the most to his self proclaimed idol, Brandon Marshall. Marshall in his prime had the same kind of functional speed, physicality, and just that uncanny knack to get open. With Ballerina like body control while high-pointing balls in the air.

    In my book, Jason Licht has absolutely nailed all of his selections in the first round. And I trust him to do the same this year. Go Bucs.

  17. LakeLandBuc Says:

    I’m not gonna lie, i didn’t want Mike Evans. I wanted the Bucs to draft Aaron Donald.

  18. James Walker Says:

    Evans will end up being the greatest receiver to wear a Bucs uniform. Quote me on that!

  19. SB Says:

    @James Walker….I completely agree. Main reason being his Record setting Rookie season with McCown throwing to him. Two seasons now with JW and his Third season is Ridiculous! ME will be a Top WR for the next Decade barring injuries. IF JW is what we think then ME will be HOF.
    Think that is Silly? I challenge you to Google ANY Wr’s first 3 seasons and show me 5 that were better.
    Oh…….And I will save you the trouble of looking up Michael Irving, Tim Brown, and Terrell Owens. They didn’t even Sniff his production.

  20. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    Mike Evans is already the best Receiver ever to don Pewter & Red.

    He has more of an impact on our team than Aaron Donald does for the rams, so I regret nothing.

  21. Joeypoppems Says:


    “I think what Joey is saying is that, if Mike Evans were in New York, he would have blown up a lot faster nationally. And you would hear about him incessantly in the media sports networks.”


  22. SB Says:

    That was some Bad Azz Chit Blake. I forgot just how good ME was for a sec until I watched that. Imagine how much YAC he would have if almost half of those catches weren’t into Double and Triple coverage.

  23. Blake_bucsfan Says:

    Oh I can imagine it SB 😀 and I really think it would help us bring a title back to Tampa.

    No Doubt about it, we need a stable of #Weapons4Winston!

  24. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    Aaron donald who???

  25. Nole on Sat- Bucc on Sun Says:

    Donald good but when I saw Sweezy handle him decently twice in 2015 I stop loojing at him the way many do here at this site.

  26. LakeLandBuc Says:

    Nole..that’s probably why Eazy Sweezy missed all of 2016 with a “Bad Back”.

  27. KingBuc17 Says:

    Amazing what he accomplished playing opposite Vjax, Shepard, Shorts. Please get him a second tight end and two more complementary receivers and we will be set…

    There out there: 2 of any Ranked
    1. Stills
    2. Pryor
    3. Goodwin
    4. Britt

    TE 1
    1. OJ Howard
    2. Nojuke
    3. Bucky Hodges

    WR Draft 2
    1. Davis
    2. C. Hernandez
    3. Stringfellow

    RB’s Draft 2
    1. Foreman – Beast with HR
    2. Hunt
    3. Mack

  28. Oxycondoms Says:

    I have a feeling that Evans will be more accepting of a big money free agent if it’s someone he respects which would mean a veteran. I think a stills or Pryor would be a problem