Do Referees Target Mike Evans?

December 8th, 2018

Unfairly flagged?

Since Mike Evans’ rookie year, Joe has thought that at times the best receiver in the history of the franchise has a bulls-eye on his back and is bird-dogged big time by officials.

Not all the time, but enough that Evans — in Joe’s eyes — will rarely get the benefit of the doubt in a close call.

This is not unlike when Sgt. Winslow played for the Bucs. He whined and cried about being held and interfered with so often it backfired on him and cost the Bucs a playoff berth.

(Remember in 2010, Winslow caught a touchdown pass from leaky, sleepy Josh Freeman when he was interfered with that would have been the game-winning score against Detroit. The zebras claimed Winslow pushed off but it was clear on replays he did not. The touchdown was taken off the scoreboard and the Bucs had to settle for a field goal, eventually losing in overtime. The Bucs lost a tiebreaker for a wild card berth to the eventual Super Bowl champion Packers.)

Yesterday, Bucs Bit-O-Honey-snacking, Ozark-watching, yams-eating coach Dirk Koetter was asked about zebras possibly targeting Evans. Koetter sort of agreed Evans may not be getting a fair shake but it has nothing to do with Evans being targeted by referees.

“I think big receivers in general [get flagged more],” Koetter said. “You’re having a meeting with the officials before the game and coaches can send stuff into [league headquarters]. I’m sure every single week the other team says, 13 [Evans] is pushing and every single week I’m going to say 13’s getting held. I just think that’s probably not unique to Mike, but probably every guy in that size range in the league.

“It’s no secret teams try to hold Mike up at the line of scrimmage. Mike’s an aggressive player at the line of scrimmage and he’s going to try to get guys off of him. It’s up to the official to set the standard on how they’re going to call it, then call it consistently. Then it’s up to us to adjust to that.”

This is the human element of not just football but sports. If Evans has a rep for offensive interference, you cannot tell Joe officials aren’t looking at Evans closer than, say, Cam Brate, another big target. That’s not a knock on officials, that’s just human nature.

This is why for the life of Joe he cannot understand why interference and holding calls are not subject to review. It is just not right, especially when interference and holding calls can be so impactful.

Joe fully agrees with Bill Belicheat that all plays should be reviewable. And no, it won’t make games longer. Teams would still be limited to the same number of challenges.

28 Responses to “Do Referees Target Mike Evans?”

  1. Nashville Buc Says:

    I agree that interference calls should be able to be reviewed. Can someone knowledgeable explain why there’s a limit on what can and can’t be reviewed? I think a team should be able to challenge anything and everything. 2 challenges… use them for anything at all. The limit on the number of challenges prevents the pace of the game from being adversely affected so why limit the scope of challenges?

  2. FortMyersDave Says:

    I bet if Mike Evans played for one of the TV ratings darlings that the NFL (like the Pats) would probably be throwing a lot of defensive holding and pass interference calls. There is a reason why certain calls in playoff games go for teams like Dallas and usually bone teams like Detroit for those who follow how the real America’s favorite teams tend to get the benefit of the doubt. Kind of like when Jordan always got that extra step vs the Bulls but if a guy from a team like the Magic (even when Shaq was there)did that it would be whistled and followed by a T-foul if he showed the refs up too much…..

    No wonder some compare the NBA and NFL to the WWE as if it is scripted but at least the NFL does not have a lottery where you know that a team like the Giants would always have the frozen envelope and the Bucs, Lions, Jags ect.
    would pick 4th at best… Then again a lottery for the top 3 draft picks weighted by the record would eliminate TANKING, something to consider Buc fans…….

  3. AlteredEgo Says:

    It’s not his hands that triggers the refs…it is his mouth and body language..hopefully he’ll learn to “play the Game”

  4. FortMyersDave Says:

    Also Joe, hate to point out a typo but in 2012 the Bucs were winning 7 and losing 9 with Schiano, I think you were referencing when the refs boned Freeman & Company back in 2010 when they went 10-6. Wow what a history changer; if the Bucs actually did go 11-5 its likely they would not have won the SuperBowl but someone besides the Packers would have. Makes for interesting speculation! Thanks for you interesting tidbits Joe, much better than the below average drivel from the mainstream press and most of your fellow podcasters!

  5. FortMyersDave Says:

    I posted earlier Joe that Evans would likely draw flags on teams that are ratings darlings like Dallas and the Pats. I also pointed out that if a controversial call is up in the air, well 99% of the time Dallas will get the nod and Detroit would get the bone and that is a fact. I posted both these facts before my previous post yet it did not appear so I simply will repost it.

  6. AlteredEgo Says:

    If you want to see hand fighting and mauling going uncalled wait for the playoffs !!!

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I love ME13 and he is most definitely a beast……..he is a mismatch and it often looks unfair. He gets interfered with a great deal perhaps on most every pass and it is overlooked.
    I do think Mike brings a lot of this down on himself because he is constantly complaining. Officials are human and don’t like being called out.
    I am starting to see some of this with OJ Howard….but OJ is not a complainer, just a mismatch.

  8. Buccaneerscotty Says:


  9. FortMyersDave Says:

    But TampaBayBucFan if he played for Dallas or the Pats would he get this treatment??? Is it his size, his team (the Bucs), or his opponent (do similar sized WRS on marquee teams get such scrutiny?) That is the question.

    BTW Joe, It seems like that 2012 turned to 2010 a few minutes back concerning how our Bucs got cornholed by the refs in a crucial Detroit matchup. My apologies if I misquoted you as I obviously misread the line and do not scan and save every post I read for proofreading later as I am not in a field such as law or journalism where that is a smart thing to do to save face…. My bad. Great publication nonetheless, especially when the Bucs are winning and the trolls of the world go underground for a while or go back to driving an ice cream truck……..

  10. Eastsidebuc Says:

    THANK YOU FOR THIS ARTICLE!!!! I always said that bigger QBs and WRs get NO calls. Even when sleepy, leaky Josh Freeman (lol sorry for stealing Joe’s) was here he never got ruffing calls. Same with Mike he is harassed every play but they only see when he does it. I thought I was the only person who thought like this.

  11. OneBuc55 Says:

    We saw Megatron in Detroit, he was good…
    Fast forward, now we have Optimus in Tampa Bay…

    What I love most about Evans is the fact that he isn’t a diva/head-case like most top receivers…His game isn’t flashy, and it isn’t always pretty but he gets the job done…

    Imho I do believe he’s a big physical receiver so he does get picked on by the zebras at times…His basketball background has really translated well to his overall NFL game…I know you can no longer dunk when you score a TD; that being said can someone tell ME13 to do a finger roll next time he scores…

    Go Bucs! It’s us against the world…

  12. Zwak Says:

    Maybe but he is a very aggressive receiver I still think he gets more calls his way then go against him.

  13. Ray Rice Says:

    Don’t understand why we don’t see more lob passes to the corner of end zone to savage Mike when they are in goal line situations. Let him go up and get it. Plenty of times he’s isolated 1v1 against a CB they still don’t throw to him. He doesn’t have to be open. Throw it up and let him make a play. I’ll take 6’5 Mike all day.

  14. Buc4Life Says:

    YES YES YES!!! You see the ones they call on Mike, and then the ones they don’t call on other receivers and you have to think that they are looking for him specifically. Another one that pisses me off is when they flagged him for PI for starting to block on a WR screen a tick early last week…the Packers and Patriots playbook is filled with this play and you never see them called for this. So freaking frustrating. Some referee crews “let them play” while others throw flags for the most trivial stuff. C’mon NFL, let’s see some consistency out there!

  15. BucTown Says:

    Mike has been up and down on this. Early on, he made himself a target of the refs with his attitude and his mouth. Seemed to learn his lesson two seasons ago, but now he’s regressing a bit. The incident with Lattimore in 2017 was so blatant that it’s probably still on official’s minds. I think it’s fair to say his on-field maturity level hasn’t yet reached the point it needs to reach.

  16. Bucnjim Says:

    It’s called having developed a reputation. Hard to break that mold once you’ve been targeted like that.

  17. Joe Says:

    No wonder some compare the NBA and NFL to the WWE

    Ooohhh. We’re pulling the wrestling card! 🙂

  18. JimmyJack Says:

    Nah Joe. Replay weakens the game. I hate how they keep adding more. It astonishes me how some fans, like yourself, want more.

    Evans has to refine his technique…….Ever listen to Ronde talk about how to get away with holding calls? Or how to get use bad techinque leading to a unwarranted flag? Same applies to WRs. He needs better technique and coaching should be accountable here as well.

  19. JimmyJack Says:

    Ray Rice you are not alone in your confusion.

  20. jmarkbuc Says:

    Love ME13

    But he does push off, a lot. Always has. He gets caught cuz he’s really obvious with it. I don’t believe he needs to push off most of the time, but if you’re going to do it, be stealthy!!

  21. ATrain Says:



    The Bucs themselves get the shortend on most close calls

    But be Honest The Bucs are Not the Big Money Team like the Pats or Green Bay

  22. DaPostman Says:

    The NFL does not want to limit the drama of arguing over PI and defensive holding. Getting people to disagree at the water cooler and to tune into all the talking heads on TV drives NFL ratings. Why else couldn’t you throw a flag on a 40 yard phantom penalty? It’s to keep the lemming fans arguing.

  23. Bob in Valrico Says:

    I don’t believe the calls are fair and balanced. They are quick to call PI on Evans,
    but blatantly overlook grabbing arms and jerseys. IMO if the receiver can’t get his arms up unimpeded then that should be a PI call. Another poster mentioned technique, and I saw a wrinkle that was interesting. I think it was a tight end.
    He had his arms up like he was defending a punch when he made contact.
    Since there was no arm extension it eliminates the thing the refs are keying

  24. BigMacAttack Says:

    I’d like to say that ALL REFS SUCK!!! And they hate the Bucs. They’ve been hating them for years. Evans is unfairly targeted by those idiots every game and turn a blind eye to those that defend against him. Did I mention that All Refs Suck!

  25. Rod Munch Says:

    The refs don’t like him because he complains so much… but he complains so much because the refs rarely call anything against defenders. Meanwhile you can watch nearly every single play and see defenders holding and tugging at Evans all the way down the field, I mean they could call defensive pass interference on nearly every single play involving Evans.

    As for Mike really the only thing he could do is stop complaining about the lack of calls and then in a couple of years perhaps the refs become more neutral against them – but I doubt even then that will make much of a difference.

  26. Jim Says:

    Treat the refs with respect, it pays off…

  27. unbelievable Says:

    I think the entire reason they are not reviewable is because the league doesn’t want itself and the refs being scrutinized even more of the plays they call flags on.

    it has nothing to do with whether it would make the game better or worse (it would be better). This is about self-preserving.

  28. MTM Says:

    ME 13 biggest issue is the refs. Yes he bitches and whines but so does 99.9% of the receivers in the NFL. It’s so bad that everytime he makes a catch you assume a flag will be thrown. ME 13 cannot touch a defender but they are allowed to grab him at the line and right before every catch. It’s the reason the same teams are at the top every year. Penalties called or not called determine the outcome of every game. I could fix every game through calls and make it look legit.