Lead The Charge, Mike!

December 1st, 2022

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No Buccaneer needs a big game Monday night more than No. 13.

At the age of 29, Mike Evans should be in the prime of a potential Hall of Fame career. He’s got Tom Brady throwing to him and a solid defense that is keeping Tampa Bay in every game.

But as the Saints come marching into Raymond James Stadium for a prime-time matchup, Evans suddenly has much to prove to a fan base demoralized by an inept offense that now ranks 27th in scoring, barely ahead of the punchless Steelers.

For many of his eight previous seasons, Evans reigned as Tampa Bay’s best player. At times, it wasn’t even close. He was a touchdown machine and one of the NFL’s most effective stick movers. In 2016, Evans led all receivers by generating 81 first downs — 15 more than runner up T.Y. Hilton.

In his first two seasons playing catch with Brady, Evans reached the end zone 27 times. This year, not so much.

In his 10 games, Evans has scored only three times. He takes a streak of seven consecutive games without a TD into his matchup against the Saints, who traditionally have his number.

In the last eight meetings, including one playoff matchup, New Orleans has limited Evans to 16 catches for 261 yards and three TDs.

Heck, that’s a good afternoon when Cooper Kupp is healthy. On Sunday in Cleveland, the Bucs desperately needed a breakout game from Evans. Instead, he was blanketed by rookie corner Martin Emerson Jr., a third-round pick out of Mississippi State.

“Mike Evans was completely shut down in this game,” said NFL Network analyst Brian Baldinger. “Martin Emerson had the greatest game I’ve seen from any corner all year.”

When matched up against Emerson, Evans failed to catch any of the seven passes Brady sent his way. Overall, he squeezed out two receptions for 31 yards on a day the Bucs craved more juice.

“I embrace one of the greats, you know?” Emerson said when asked about going against Evans. “One of the greats in this game and I was looking forward to that matchup all week because I knew he was physical, a bigger guy like me who’s going to push off at the top of the route and I just wanted to challenge him.”

Evans is struggling to create separation, perhaps still bothered by rib and ankle issues. Since scoring twice in a loss to Kansas City,

Evans hasn’t dented the scoreboard. That’s shocking because Evans trails only Davante Adams among active players with 78 career TD catches.

As a red-zone threat, Evans has had few peers since breaking into the league in 2014 as Jason Licht’s first draft choice as Bucs GM. His shockingly low TD total has contributed significantly to Tampa Bay’s key deficiency:

Too many field goals, not enough touchdowns.

Through 11 games, these Bucs have 18 offensive TDs and 23 FGs. That’s not just out of whack, it’s out of control. Last year, the numbers read 61 offensive TDs and 25 FGs. During the 2020 championship season, the ratio was 58-28.

The absence of Rob Gronkowski has been conspicuous near the goal-line, but Evans needs to do his part. Tampa Bay’s 50 percent TD rate in the red zone is tied with Seattle for the worst mark in the NFC. Last year, the Bucs ranked No. 2 at 66.2 percent. In 2020, Tampa Bay was seventh at 68.9 percent.

At this point, Evans isn’t bolstering his compelling case for Canton. In 2022, he ranks 18th in receiving yards, 24th in yards per catch and 17th among receivers in first downs.

But good news may be on the way.

Marshon Lattimore, who has a knack of getting under Evans’ shoulder pads with trash talk and aggressive tactics, just missed his seventh consecutive game with an abdomen injury. His status for Monday night’s game is uncertain.

Despite their 4-8 record, the Saints remain in contention for the NFC South crown. A victory against the Bucs would keep hope alive heading into a bye week.

There’s no better time for Tampa Bay’s dismal offense to assert itself en route to a season sweep of a division rival.

It would be lovely if Mr. Evans led the charge.

An Instant Classic Ira Kaufman Podcast As The Sage Addresses Colossal Bucs Underachievement And A Landmark Loss

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18 Responses to “Lead The Charge, Mike!”

  1. TexasBucsFan Says:

    It appears injuries or just giving up on the team. Lack of leadership from the coaching staff, will lead to the lack of production

  2. Panhandle Buc Says:

    These stats show the grossly decline of this offense! Even w/o Gronk there is no excuse to have that TD/FG ratio!! This late in the season we should be clicking and we are NOT…that’s on the coaching staff!!!!!!!!!

  3. zzbucs Says:

    Ira, with all due respect, ME13 has nothing to prove, absolutely nothing…..He is and will be one of the best Bucs ever……And those kind of players will always have a special place on the fan base……You don’t judge them , you enjoy them….

  4. Bucsfanman Says:

    Yes. Please. Thank you.

    I don’t know if there’s a team, other than the Cowboys, that I hate more! It would give me great pleasure to see this offense find its groove and smack these slimy Saints around.

  5. D-Rok Says:

    For his “psyche,” I think Mike NEEDS a good or big game. It sure would be nice to have 4 healthy WR’s to take the pressure off each other, allowing the ball to be spread around and keep the defense guessing. If Mike somehow gets slowed down/shut down, Julio and Chris need to really go off.

    Any news/info on Gage?

  6. Goatfarmer Says:

    Brian Flores or Eric Bienemy.

  7. HC Grover Says:

    3-0 Stanks

  8. Kentucky Buc Says:

    2-0 stanks. Bowles calls it a win.

  9. BradentuckeyBuc Says:

    He is the Bucs goat at wr, i think thats undeniable, but effort has soured ME’s legacy since his rookie season. Pulling up on that deep ball late in the game Sunday that landed 2 yards in front of him at a critical time was not a good look.

  10. D-Rome Says:

    Brian Flores or Eric Bienemy

    This is silly. What did Brian Flores do with Tua or that team to make you believe he’d be a good coach for the next QB of the Bucs (it won’t be Brady)? Tua has flourished under Mike McDaniel and he struggled under Flores.

    If Eric Bienemy was so great why have teams brought him in for interviews and then passed on him? There are documented reasons and it’s not because of what social media says the reason is.

  11. Waterboy Says:

    Great podcast but kill the Sean Payton talk the Saints won’t trade Payton to the Bucs unless they’re giving up the franchise to get him.

  12. Player 1 Says:

    Mike was blanketed all freakin game. Either he is injured, too slow, not making the correct breaks or he needs different routes to run than what he is currently doing. Its pretty bad when a rookie knows where Mike is going to be. Personally I think everyone knows our offense from tape, and we are not adjusting to give Mike the best shot to succeed.

  13. Will Says:

    Again BL showing that he struggles without BA. There were many times in the past years that BA said that they needed to move Mike around to create favorable match ups. BL continued ALL last game to run him on the same route and do no movement of him before the snap. BA is missed during the game.

  14. tickrdr Says:

    There wasn’t a single pass to ME13 until less than 4 minutes in the first half.
    I think his best games occur when he is involved in the offense EARLY, and think they should target him on a simple slant or out on the first play of the game. I think he gets frustrated when he is running routes only as a decoy. Will, in the post above, makes an excellent point about moving Mike around to change the matchups.


  15. ClwJB Says:

    The saints are licking their chops on D

    DSmith is himself again, no Wirfs, The C and both G are small and get no push in the run game

    This is not going to be pretty

    We better pray ME and TB get back on track or it’s gonna be a longggggg evening

  16. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Great beta take zz.

  17. fern Says:

    Emerson held Mike the whole game look at the tape. Pulling the jersey the whole game
    Mike don’t need to prove anything to anyone.

  18. Goatfarmer Says:

    Brian Flores or Eric Bienemy.