Mike Evans Has Been Targeted Four Times Or Less In 14 Games Under Byron Leftwich

October 18th, 2022

Nothing new for Mike Evans.

There’s a divide at JoeBucsFan.com world headquarters.

One Joe is having an absolute meltdown because the greatest receiver in Bucs history, Mike Evans, was used so infrequently Sunday against a greatly depleted Pittsburgh secondary. The other Joe is annoyed but less pissed off and sees the situation as one of the annual throw-more-to-Mike games.

Since Bucco Bruce Arians and Byron Leftwich arrived in Tampa for the 2019 season, Mike Evans has been targeted four times or less in a whopping 14 games. Fourteen!

The Bucs are 8-6 in those games including two postseason victories.

To be fair, Evans had significant injuries in three of those games, which led to his limited targets; the Bucs won two and lost one.

So if you eliminate those injury games, the Bucs are 6-5 when Evans is healthy and targeted four or fewer times in a game since the start of the Arians era.

That’s not a strong record, but the Joe typing here is very confident those numbers and the Bucs’ results when Evans isn’t targeted much will surprise a lot of fans.

First, it’s cringeworthy that it’s happened so often. Second, it’s hard to believe the Bucs have fared so well with a healthy Evans having such a limited role.

None of these stats excuses what happened Sunday: Evans being ignored against a crappy secondary with the Bucs hurting for points. But Joe just wanted to talk some fans off the ledge.

A shockingly quiet game for Evans happens a few times every season.

52 Responses to “Mike Evans Has Been Targeted Four Times Or Less In 14 Games Under Byron Leftwich”

  1. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    And yet….Mike doesn’t complain…..he has every right to but he’s such a pro….

    This is a problem for Bowles to fix……..and he must.

    I also wouldn’t be surprised if BA didn’t speak to BL……

    If I didn’t know better…..I’d think BL was just stupid but I try not to judge people by the way they communicate.


    So many of the best NFL teams have young, OFFENSIVE-minded guys — we’ve got an older, recycled defensive guy who was a massive failure with the JETS, but hey, most have massively failed with the Jets until the man they have now.

  3. Upstate NY BUC Says:

    Not praising Jameis or nothing but he had no issues finding Mike in any situation? Bowles needs to get on Lefty’s ass. Mike beats double teams all day long!!

  4. Captain Oblivious Says:


    Are my comments getting posted?

    I searched the archives for my username and there were no results. I wanted to copy some of my posts from mid 2020 when I made the same complaints about the Bucs coaching that we are reading from everybody now.

  5. James Says:

    I don’t understand why Chris Godwin gets x3 more targets. He’s been injury prone and the chemistry between Brady are not there yet. All the more so to throw to Mike who can win on slants outs comebacks and go deep

  6. Pewter Power Says:

    leftwich is a below average playcaller. Even Mike Tomlin thought stopping the Bucs was the key to a win and we helped him out by deciding not to throw his way. Leftwich doesn’t share all the blame because Brady should be yelling at leftwich for the stupid game plan. He did it to josh McDaniels

  7. Beeej Says:

    Is Evans getting open? Is he being doubled?

  8. Coburn Says:

    I think often we do a better job or taking Mike outta games than our opponents do. No excuse in red zone for not calling his number at least once

  9. Anonymous Says:

    The worst part of this season is where is the improvement from game to game lessons learned after lessons learned?
    What have we seen to indicate things are gonna turn around? And you wonder why the fanbase is so disgusted.

  10. John Olmstead Says:

    When you cannot run on even a light box, double teams on Evans are consistent. Need help at OL. There has been no push from that OL at all.

  11. ElioT Says:

    Byron is a joke but some of this falls on Brady too.

    Let better get their **** together fast!

  12. D-Rome Says:

    I think this could be simply a consequence of the game script, opportunities, and personnel. The past two years Brady has had Gronk, Godwin, AB, and Fournette to throw to. What other team in the history of the NFL has had that kind of receiving personnel on top of their WR1?

    When I looked at Tyreek Hill’s numbers between 2019-2021 he had 11 games where he was only targeted 5 times or less. Those teams really only had Kelce (who’s all pro) and Mecole Hardman who’s a WR2 (at best). I still think a 4 target game for Mike Evans should never happen in any season of his career because “we have to find a way to get Mike the ball.”

  13. BucsFanSince76 Says:

    Mike is OPEN even when he is covered-Throw Mike the damn Ball!!!

  14. BucsfanFred Says:

    Brady forced it to Godwin a lot Sunday, but kept it in the dirt.
    There was all kinds of help over the top. I saw Evans open a few times, but it’s hard to be sure from home.

  15. KingLDavid54 Says:

    It’s almost an understatement to say that Mike Evans is the best WR in Buccaneers history. He certainly is, but consider this. There are currently 31 WRs in the NFL Hall of Fame. When Evans “inevitably” receives his gold jacket, that will put him in the most elite company and safely secure him in the Top 50 WRs in NFL history for some time to come.

  16. Alanbucsfan Says:

    The Steelers’ safety was cheating alot to successfully stuff the run – play action, maybe BL?

  17. SlyPirate Says:


    BL isn’t a good OC. Firing him would wake the team up.

    FIRE BL! Move BA in as the savior OC.

  18. Biff Barker Says:

    I’m guessing Evans was used as a decoy? Great job Byron!

    BA was surprised nobody would hire Leftwich? Just watch a replay of the game Bruce,

  19. SB~LV Says:

    Meaningless stat
    They have targeted losing every game but one
    The 2nd game of the season

  20. robert Says:

    what slypirate said!!!

  21. SPARKY Says:

    Nobody reads defenses better than Brady. He sees right away they are going to double Evans, so his first looks are at the best match up he sees. If Godwin is 1 on 1, that’s usually gonna be his first look. If Godwin ain’t open he checks his next best option. Nothing there he than goes back to look at Evans but at this time the pass rush is getting to him, so drop off to a back or throw it away. And maybe throw low to a receiver who is covered tight and hope he can go down and get it.

  22. Duane Says:

    ME13 is our most underutilized weapon. When the ball goes to him, it always seems as if it was an afterthought, and WHERE ARE HIS TARGETS IN THE RED ZONE? His skills are wasted as a decoy. Feed him early and often.

  23. HC Grover Says:

    under blunder bowles

  24. Francisco Guzman Says:

    What irks me and what gets lost is how this defense gave up two big 3rd downs to mitch trubisky. I said in a big spot you can’t trust this pass defense. Had they gotten a stop i have no doubts we win that game in the end.

  25. Hodad Says:

    Bowles has two years tops if this is what the Bucs are going to be like. Licht could be part of the purge when it comes also.

  26. TAMPA BAY DEMON™ Says:

    Duane Says:

    Like on the 2-point conversion try vs. the Steelers. Mikey had SEVERAL inches on his defender and could easily have gotten a ball thrown out to him.

  27. unbelievable Says:

    You should be pissed.

    Everyone should be.

    Pittsburg was missing their best pass rusher (who happens to be the best in the entire NFL), their best safety (also one of the best in the NFL), AND their top 3 cornerbacks… and the Genius known as Leftwich decides we should run 50% of the time…

    Dude sucks as an offensive coordiantor.

    Zero ability to scheme guys open

    Zero ability to take advantage of mismatches

    Zero ability to be creative, cause misdirection or deception in plays.

    There’s a reason no one has hired him to be a HC.

  28. Uncle Urk Says:

    THANK YOU JOE! This article and more like it needs to be written and asked every week during the press conference. Mike will never do it. He is a HOF and team player. You media guys have the forum to be his voice. Hold the coaches and decision makers accountable.

    And Thank you Mike!

  29. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Upstate NY BUC Says:
    October 18th, 2022 at 11:06 am
    Not praising Jameis or nothing but he had no issues finding Mike in any situation? Bowles needs to get on Lefty’s ass. Mike beats double teams all day long!!

    This is true and I think it’s because JayMiss was a much less accurate passer than Brady (until lately)
    All The Soiled Messiah had to do was throw it in ME’s general vicinity.
    Brady ain’t taking those chances.

    Maybe he should.

    I think Brady likes CG’s route running better.

  30. HC Grover Says:

    clearly nobody has a grip on bowles prevent game plans. he worked on these plans all year and he thinks thaey are great. he is not going to change them now.

  31. T REX Says:

    Winston would throw Evans jump balls

    Brady isn’t that type of QB

    Evans has always had trouble getting open.

    Not the best route runner

  32. doolnutts Says:

    I have been saying this we pay ME13 what? 20 million a year? Get the guy the ball.

  33. adam from ny Says:

    in laymen’s terms…

    what you need in a DC is someone who secretly gets totally geeked out deciphering what the other team is bringing to the table, then break it down quickly and on the fly, and in a genius like manner, creatively throwing back plays combating what is being delivered by the simpleton on the other side of the field…


    is that what we have in leftwich…

    i hope so

  34. HC Grover Says:

    who does leftwich work for….who is the captain of the ship? good grief did bowles get the immunity idol?

  35. Onetrickpony Says:

    Did Ariens screw us with his heir apparent or does Bowels have to pictures?
    Bowels taint worth the price of a can of beer.
    And I think my grandmother is as qualified as Lefty to game plan a perfect disaster like he did.

  36. CrackWise Says:

    Sorta reminds me of when Gruden took over and wasted away the A-Trains HOF run.

    Gruden single handedly prevented The OG Mike from a sure-fire HOF ending to his career.

  37. Redeemer Says:

    Evans was doubled most of the day. I don’t care how good you are. A good double team CAN take out any reciever. Its the coordinators job to find a way around it. You do it by making the defense pay for dedicating extra resources to one player. They tried to do it with Godwin, but he’s nowhere near what he was last year. Not his fault. Who else scares defenses on this team? Certainly not Gage. This is as much a personnel problem as it is coaching.

  38. gotbbucs Says:

    Evans is tied – 51st in the NFL this year with 4 Redzone targets after playing 5 games.

  39. gotbbucs Says:

    They need to put Evans in the slot and let him box out. He’s uncoverable on slants.

  40. Allen Lofton Says:

    The owners need to put their foot down and make changes – or boot Bryon Leftwich

  41. Mario Says:

    I was at the game in Pittsburgh on Sunday. I was sitting in one of the end zones. I was looking at the receiving personnel on the field and on a couple drives coming towards me, Evans was not even on the field. I thought he might be hurt. You certainly can’t get any targets if you are not on the field. I agree with a lot of the comments, the offense has been very uninspiring. I can’t even remember or point to (1) play in the Steelers game that I thought was a great play by the offense.

  42. Defense Rules Says:

    Brady rarely throws up a contested ball. He obviously goes through his progressions faster than almost any other QB, but if there’s no window there, he won’t throw it. I’m already seeing a LOT more checkdowns out of Brady this season than I ever saw in 2020 or 2021.

    I’m wondering if maybe ME13 is being doubled more like Beej said since we don’t have a true deep threat like we did when AB was here (hard to take Scotty seriously as any type of a threat when his catch rate is 40% this year).

  43. SPARKY Says:

    Bowles and Leftwich should be tied to a chair and forced to watch game film of the Chiefs games. They could see how Reid schemes plays to get guys open. How can Kelce continue to be wide open in the red zone? Evans is about the same size as Kelse,try to get him open against double teams.

  44. PSL Bob Says:

    It’s game planning. Sure, if you’re playing a team with a very strong CB who is covering ME13, you may not throw the ball to him as much. But given the general inexperience of the Steelers’ secondary last Sunday, you should be throwing his way a ton. I would have expected him to have a monster day. No sanitizing this one Joe.

  45. EEK Says:

    Godwin had been incredible in many of those games

    Evans may be constantly hurt — the way he gets tackled even on routine plays seems really physical

    when Evans is open and getting catches he’s the best the Bucs have ever seen

  46. Rod Munch Says:

    Part of this is Brady, he only throws to guys who are wide open, and that’s never been Evans game. You throw the ball anywhere near Evans, and you expect him to get the ball, regardless of coverage, that’s why Evans is paid big money.

    With that said Evans has become a better route runner, I think, under Brady, because that’s the only way he gets the ball.

    At the same time, Leftwich is clearly mentally handicapped and doesn’t do a single thing to try to scheme the ball to Evans. I don’t understand how Evans hasn’t taken over the Gronk spot in the redzone this year, it makes no sense, and that’s 100% on Leftwich not putting him in that position.

    But overall, a lot of this is on Brady, and because Evans is truly a threat it also opens up Godwin to get coverage by 2nd string corners, and combine that with Godwin running routes in the slot, instead of outside, to why he’s targeted a lot more. Anyone who doesn’t know that and that thinks Godwin is better than Evans is as stupid as Leftwich.

  47. Izod Says:


    I don’t even know where to begin with that one other than you must still be hungover. First, Why WOULDN’T you throw to guys who are wide open? lol. I can state with 100% confidence, every QB at the NFL level is always looking for the open guy.

    I mean, if this were street ball and the guy who is wide open completely sucks, then yeah don’t throw it to him, but last I checked these are NFL receivers.

    Second, if you’ve EVER watched Brady play you know guys don’t get open, he MAKES them open. That is the key difference between him and say, Winston. Brady throws them open PLUS he (usually) knows how to beat any and every defender on the field.

    As for your point about BL, I do agree with that. Any of us fans would’ve had a better plan than BL: throw the ball to Evans every time!

  48. AfroBuc Says:

    We applaud him. We salute him. We all know he’s great. Why, don’t they just rely on him and see how he can produce more? Mike Evans is the man. I’m convinced of it. He goes and gets the ball. When in times of need, use your team’s best players. Find a way to use Mike Evans more.

  49. Goatfarmer Says:

    The reason why, is that Bymoron Leftwurst is an idiot in sheep’s clothing. As long as he had BA’s hand up his back he was ok. Now he is exposed as a stubborn, arrogant, and apprently stupid coach. Go back to playing golf four times a week. Boron. Your golf score and IQ might be the same.

  50. D-Rok Says:

    We can do it! And we can do it multiple times!

    GO BUCS!!!

  51. Rod Munch Says:

    Izod – I’m actually not disagreeing with you that much. Evans game isn’t beating a guy with quickness and getting open, it’s being open even if he’s not ‘open’. Also I’m not really criticizing Brady with what I’m saying, I’m saying the reason you’ll have games with lower catch counts is because of Brady finding the easier throw, in general. Personally, I wish Brady would just throw the ball up towards Evan and just let him go get it – but Brady really doesn’t do that, he’ll find the guy underneath for a shorter gain on a safer throw, and he’ll limit his deep shots, although when he takes deep shots they’re generally effective. My comment isn’t a knock on Brady, I’m just saying the play style of Evans isn’t what Brady prefers to throw to, Brady wants the safer, easier throw, and Evans is a contested catch monster.

    With that said, I wish Leftwich was less of a moron and just did more to scheme Evans to open, to get easy catches. Instead, Godwin is in that position. Nothing wrong with that, to be sure, just stating why Godwin can have a ton of catches while it might appear Evans is having a down day – even if he’s not, and he’s the one opening up underneath for Godwin.

  52. Buc king Says:

    It’s a pure travesty