Is Mike Evans Slipping?

December 16th, 2022

Deep data dive.

Very interesting data from a stat-geeky site that may shed light on what’s going on between Tom Brady and Mike Evans.

For whatever reason, Brady and Evans have not been fully on the same page this year.

Is it the lack of a downfield-throwing offense? Ever since Evans was drafted in 2014, the Bucs have been a downfield throwing offense. Until this season.

Yes, even with Stewart McClown the Bucs tried to hit home run passes. Remember the “Dunkaneers?”

The geeks at use a formula cobbled together all from NextGen Stats data that tracks three key elements: how open a receiver gets, how well he catches the ball, and his YAC. You can read a detailed description how uses this data here.

Evans has really never been much of a YAC guy. But oh, can he catch. But it seems, at least per this data, that Evans has been on a four-year slide. recently released its list of top receivers. Not surprisingly, few Bucs receivers are listed.

(Right away Joe is suspicious of this ranking as they have Russell Gage, who has been pretty much worthless this year, ranked No. 65 while Chris Godwin is ranked No. 90.)

So Joe looked back a little bit on these numbers and noticed, at least how ranks receivers, Evans has been on a steady decline.

Here is how ranked Evans since 2018:

2018: Third
2019: Fifth
2020: 14th
2021: 22nd
2022: 50th

So, has Evans really gotten progressively worse? Is this flawed data? Be real: Ask yourself who is having a better season, Gage or Godwin? That alone suggests a monster hole in the numbers.

Joe thinks Evans’ bad season (for him) is a combination of the offense and more coverage thanks to fewer weapons overall.

43 Responses to “Is Mike Evans Slipping?”

  1. Bob in valrico Says:

    The offense and the lack of protection is a big reason for the decrease in YAC yards for all our receivers. This is not a team that executes well enough to rely on short passes and runs to move the chains for 80 yard drives, IMO. Few adjustments in game and game to game have resulted in a plodding offense that
    Hs too many three and outs to be competitive.

  2. Bucsfanman Says:

    Bob- I agree. It’s not that complicated, not to mention the aforementioned Russell Gage ranking. It pretty much renders the list irrelevant!

    Speaking of Gage, WTH?! At the start of the season if you would’ve told me that a team with Godwin, ME13, Julio, and Gage at WR was near the bottom of the league in scoring, I would’ve told you to put down the J and sober up!
    I just don’t get it.

  3. ClwJB Says:

    Garbage in garbage out – yeah, Gage 25 spots higher than Godwin 👌

    ME13 is not happy right now – his body language is so easy to read – he has been frustrated all year

    The entire O seems pissed off all the time, but not motivated pissed, like angry pissed off because they all know they have moron 1 & 2 costing them games, money, and ridicule nationally

  4. Buczilla Says:

    My initial reaction is hell no, but he is at the age where dudes start to decline. This year is a wash though, so it’s not fair to judge him based on it (I could care a flying flip less what those nerds cobbled together over the last 4 years). Let’s see what Mike does next year with hopefully, a new head coach and offensive coordinator.

  5. gotbbucs Says:

    Give Evans a QB that can make plays outside the pocket and then see where the numbers are. Evans is a backyard football style reciever. He’s not a crisp route runner and he’s not a burner, but he’s big and he can high point and catch contested balls maybe better than anyone in the league.
    He also used to get targeted 10 times a game, minimum. He has a diminishing QB and a nincompoop for an OC right now as well.

  6. DoooshLaRue Says:


    I think that’s a very good assessment. So going forward the team needs to make a big decision.
    If Brady stays, then we need to trade Evans.

  7. JimmyfromNY Says:

    Lol!! OK, Evans needs a QB to get him the ball outside!! Absolutely laughable. Of course Brady misses deep every quarterback in the league does he’s also throw some absolute dimes at Evans and he doesn’t battle thru contact or simply can’t get open , considering he’s been locked down by number three and four corners is all you need to know. The drop vs Carolina was a season changing play. The fact he quit after is u need to know. Playing like a number three or four receiver this year. All he cares about is that record. He may not be saying it but that’s exactly how he’s playing. Either going right down or Outabounds after catching the ball. They need to move on from him and get faster, he eats up a ton of money on the cap.

  8. D-Rome Says:

    Buczilla, I agree with you that this is the age where athletes in general start to decline and I mean that in terms of being an elite athlete. He’s 29 years old. To put in perspective Randy Moss retired at 32. Evans’ best days as an athlete are behind him. I also agree that this year is a wash and it’s not fair to judge him on it.

    I think part of this has to do with the decline of the offensive line. Brady is seemingly more rushed this year than the previous two years. That extra time, however brief, gave Evans more separation even if it’s just an extra step or two.

  9. The graham tram Says:

    Any time he gets a target it seems like he comes off the field looking hurt

  10. Statguy Says:

    “Give Evans a QB that can make plays outside the pocket and then see where the numbers are. Evans is a backyard football style reciever. He’s not a crisp route runner and he’s not a burner, but he’s big and he can high point and catch contested balls maybe better than anyone in the league.
    He also used to get targeted 10 times a game, minimum. He has a diminishing QB and a nincompoop for an OC right now as well.”

    He use to be that guy, not anymore,Mike Williams with the chargers is that guy now

  11. NEfan Says:

    Jimmy, not sure I would go that far but he clearly quit on at least two downfield passes in Cleveland. If you don’t think having AB, Gronk & Godwin on the field didn’t allow him to get open your falling yourself. He fights for the high ball and that’s pretty much it. He and Julio are the same players only Julio is more polished. Gage is hurt, if any of you ever had a bad hammy pull you know it could take months to heal. Bottom line Evan’s is not a good route runner which leads to poor separation, that’s why a lot of his receptions are contested and they take longer to develope. Kind of a one trick stallion.

  12. EC Buc Says:

    Is it me or does the holding call and a bad awkwardly thrown ball behind him where the guy would have had 2TDs and >100 yards deserving of calling the guy as slipping? Dude is still playing, just some dumb luck IMO. Scheme isn’t helping either. Didn’t you guys write up how they used him differently in one of the past games. Not fair to ME.

  13. Bob in valrico Says:

    Jimmy from New York,
    Jimmy, I am not sure I follow your logic. If you look at stats mike was open 51 times yet he he caught 67 balls, That tells me he not only catching balls but contesting them. One thing Mike said a couple of years after Fitz had his great 400 yard game when comparing Jameis and Fitz was that Fitz put the ball where
    only the receiver can catch it. So my point is any receiver should not have to battle through a defender if the pass is well thrown. Whatever injuries Brady is battling through, his passes are not as accurate as in prior years.

  14. Kentucky Buc Says:

    Using a QB who was on once every three games as evidence of something completely invalidates any point you were trying to make. Fitz ?? Cmon man.

  15. PanthersSuck! Says:

    He looks beat up and tired. Seems like these last couple of years have worn hard on him, emotionally and physically.

  16. PassingThru Says:

    It’s hard to imagine Evans as anything but a quality WR, he’s been so good and so consistent for years. But he seems to be not running through on his routes. One plausible explanation is that he is feeling his age and those legs are now heavy.

    And of course the Buc WRs and TEs are a mediocre lot this season. More is being demanded of him. Every team the Bucs face know that he’s WR1, and the one and only legit red zone threat. Add the poor OC to the equation and you can almost feel the quiet frustration coming out of Evans.

  17. SOEbuc Says:

    BRADY IS SLIPPING!!! I’m not saying Mike hasn’t aged, but he’s still a prime time WR. Mahomes, Allen, and any other solid QB Mike would have well over 1,000 by now.

  18. Lamarcus Says:

    Since Jamies Winston left, Mike Evans has not been the same player

  19. Coburn Says:

    I’d disagree with bucs being downfield team since he was drafted. He played under Koetter and they were known more for horizontal offense. Evans best years were under Koetter and he rarely ran a to route.. mostly sideline routes, sitting underneath/running back to qb, Cross ng routes. Vincent Jackson was more likely to go deep and then DeSean Jackson was brought in specifically to add that element. I also remember Evans specifically working in offseason to try and work in his quickness to add that deep element

    In Arians offense he became a bit more of a drcoy. So many other targets. With lefty he even admitted to and fase almost every play which is really dumb. That’s a quick way to wear out your receiver (even if they aren’t so big). No wonder he disappears in second halfs

  20. Mybucsdontbucaround813 Says:

    The reason is simple Tom spreads the ball around much more than jameis. Tom doesn’t throw nearly as much jump balls to Evans as Winston did in ’18 and ’19.
    If you guys notice Tom only throws 50/50 balls late in winnable games

  21. Coburn Says:

    It’s also really easy to defend a guy when you don’t have to worry about underneath or him cutting into the middle. Usually you’d work those areas most of the game and then a few timed a game try over the top.

    Heck I think it was last year teams had us figured out and would just defend sidelines and downfield.. our own guys took themselves out running into double coverage. Wasn’t until we adjusted with some quick hitters and over the middle that out offense finally opened up more

  22. Darin Says:

    Garbage coaching the whole team is slipping.

  23. Nicholas Carlson Says:

    Brady also keeps missing him.

  24. Coburn Says:

    So after looking back at some stats and Koetter he ran a lot of downfield routes as well, but he was known for running them horizontal and having lots of option routes. A lot more button hook type of plays on outside and a lot more post routes. This is specifically what I remember about Evans early on, even though his overall average depth of target was as high as ever. The problem with go routes and fades (aside from limiting what the defender has to actually defend… Cheat to the inside and extra cushion) is that you always have a body between yourself and the qb. Far sideline and deep means it’s always the longest path. 3rd quarter he skied for one near middle of field and reminded me of the old Evans

  25. Demetrius T Meeks Says:

    We’re looking and pointing the finger at everyone else. I think part of ii is Byron and some of it is Brady. He’s a lil off this yr , and mike is paying for it

  26. Knucknbuc Says:

    He had the 49ers corner beat a bunch of times last week. He’s been getting open Brady has had trouble finding him or just generally going a different direction. No surprise whenever we do use him and this offense is showing any life at all Mike is involved. But idiot 1 and idiot 2 can’t seem to figure it out

  27. NEfan Says:

    Seriously you homes? I wrote this last year, Mike quits on routes which doesn’t coincide with what Brady dies, he gets rid if the ball and throws to a spot. If you noticed in the hurry up games they won, Brady hit Evan’s on timing curls near sidelines. Brady is used to precision receivers not circus acts. I’m actually a fan of Evan’s but he’s limited.

  28. NEfan Says:

    Knuck, nobody was open in time. Brady took 19 hurry and 7 hits. Mike needs to run faster with this oline. Say what you want about a running QB, how did that workout last night with Seattle and Smith?

  29. BucsfanFred Says:

    There’s a lot of miles on those tires.

  30. SOEbuc Says:


    You’re right. Not the same since Winston. Broke single season franchise TD (TD)record in 2020 to break franchise record and then again in 2021 (14). Doh!

  31. SOEbuc Says:

    *13 TD 2020

  32. NEfan Says:

    Lamarcus, neither has Oneilbucyall.

  33. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    Gage has a much smaller sample size, Godwin was not healthy for the first half of the season, and Godwin will generally draw a better defender in coverage. The data has value, but it also must be interpreted in the proper context.

  34. Joe Says:

    The data has value, but it also must be interpreted in the proper context.

    THANK YOU!!!

  35. Tammy Says:

    50th is so flawed yes. He should be more like 90th.

  36. orlbucfan Says:

    This future HOFamer has played his heart out this season, hurt and all. If Goat bozo screws this game up, I hope ME13 goes on strike!

  37. NEfan Says:

    ME13, go for the penalty over the ball, break away long ball dropper Evan’s? These coaches could be ruining his HOF chances, especially if Bowels comes back.

    Evan’s would be a solid #3 on most teams maybe a 2 on some.

  38. unbelievable Says:

    Go back and watch the film. There have been so many plays were Evans is running wide arse open, it’s ridiculous. Brady has been rushing throws all season long. He doesn’t trust the o-line

  39. unbelievable Says:

    “Evan’s would be a solid #3 on most teams”


    Man, here I was thinking we had the best herb out here in Cali, but apparently it’s in NE.

  40. NEfan Says:

    Evan’s is running wide arse open because the play is over. Seriously if he were running that open why are they last in separation? It ain’t Godwin bringing down the stats.

  41. unbelievable Says:

    Go back and watch the tape. Evans running open, a Brady still has ball but checks it down bc he’s rushing his throws bc he doesn’t trust his o-line. And sometimes he just isn’t looking Mikes way.

    Plenty of blame to go around, including on Brady.

  42. unbelievable Says:

    And Evans, obviously. He’s definitely quit on some routes.

  43. catcard202 Says:

    One could argue separation but think it’s the TB12 regression effect…How many balls are long and away down the side line or bounced off the ground short this season???? Feels like a ton.