Mike Evans Talks New Challenges, Savoring What’s Left Of His Career

August 1st, 2023

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Mike Evans is excited — which should make Buc fans very excited.

As he enters his 10th NFL season, the most accomplished wide receiver in franchise history can’t wait to implement the diverse new offense designed by Dave Canales. Evans thought he had run every route tree imaginable during nine consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

Then he got a look at the devious challenges Canales has crafted for Tampa Bay opponents.

Year 10 for Mike Evans brings first-time challenges. Evans sat down with Ira Kaufman.

“I love his energy,” Evans says. “This is different. These are some different routes I’ve never seen before and I’m looking forward to running them. It’s going to be hard to stop us.”

Whether Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask stands under center for the Sept. 10 opener at Minneapolis, Evans is confident the Bucs can land a third consecutive division crown and a fourth consecutive playoff berth.

“We’ve still got a lot of our core guys,” Evans told me on Sunday. “We’re going to compete. We’re going to play our asses off. Where’s this team? I don’t know yet. We’ve got some more things to find out, but I like what I’m seeing.”

Evans was just named the 53rd-best player in the league, according to voting by his peers. Although he topped the 1,000-yard mark once again, Evans struggled through 11 consecutive games without reaching the end zone.

That depressing streak was especially stunning for someone who had teamed with Tom Brady for 27 touchdowns during the preceding two years.

Just when Buc fans were wondering what happened to all that chemistry, the two combined for three long scoring passes in a crucial victory against Carolina in Week 17.

“Yeah, it was definitely frustrating,” Evans says of his prolonged TD drought. “We were losing and we weren’t scoring points. We just played bad ball all year, really. We got to the playoffs and thought we could just flip the switch. It doesn’t work like that.”

What changed against the Panthers in the NFC South showdown?

“The first time we played them (21-3 loss in Charlotte), I could have had a huge game, but I dropped that ball early,” Evans says. “When teams play Cover 1, I usually have my best games. Teams like the Chiefs and Panthers, with one high safety. Tom just said I’m going to give you opportunities. That’s why teams don’t play us like that, normally.”

No other receiver in league annals has ever started a career with nine 1,000-yard seasons. That distinction will be part of a powerful case Evans is building as a candidate for the Pro Foottball Hall of Fame five years after his retirement.

And the first player drafted by Jason Licht doesn’t even turn 30 until later this month.

“Of course I think about it,” he says, referring to the Canton shrine to pro football excellence. “You know how competitive I am. I’m a fan of the game, so I think about it. But it’s not at the forefront of my thinking. I’m just trying to play the best ball I can, while I can. Each year, I’m trying to enjoy this as much as possible because it’s going to be over before I know it.”

Buc fans can only hope that day is well down the line.

16 Responses to “Mike Evans Talks New Challenges, Savoring What’s Left Of His Career”

  1. SlyPirate Says:

    “No other receiver has started their career with 9 consecutive 1K seasons.”

    It’s a little more than that …
    1. Only Rice has more consecutive 1k seasons (11)
    2. Only Rice and Moss have more total 1k seasons (Moss-10, Rice-14)

    The only players with 9x1k seasons are Mike Evans, Terrell Owens, Tim Brown, and Larry Fitzgerald.

    That is crazy company!

  2. Proudbucsfan Says:

    Excellent write up Ira, as usual. Mike Evans is already in my hall of fame. Amazing player, one of my favorites all time.

  3. Allen Lofton Says:

    If the Bucs can stay healthy like they did in 2020, the Bucs could get deep into the playoffs.

  4. Dooley Says:

    “We were losing and we weren’t scoring points. We just played bad ball all year, really. We got to the playoffs and thought we could just flip the switch. It doesn’t work like that.”

    Sure as hell doesn’t

  5. ATLBuc Says:

    Mike looks like he has lost weight. Can you imagine if he’s faster this year?

  6. Jason Says:

    Aside from Tom Brady, Evans had made a career out of making mediocre quarterbacks look good. I see that continuing this year.

  7. Mike C Says:

    ATL Buc, lean and mean! LFG!

  8. PSL Bob Says:

    Mike’s the man! And paired with CG14, the duo give defenses fits. Let’s just hope either Trask or Mayfield is able to hit Mike in the end zone more often this year.

  9. BillyBucco Says:

    It’s really been since the SB year we had both healthy.
    Relatively anyway. Both ME and CG had hammy issues the 1st few games with Brady.
    We all know what happened.
    Next year Godwin tears his ACL and we can’t cover a bomb.
    Last year Chris was obviously not full speed.
    I bet the routes he is talking about are the long curling in curling out routes.
    Brady never really had time to let those develop.
    Get outside the pocket though and bye time and ME is easily gonna hit 1k.

  10. A Bucs Fan Says:

    I think both will have over 1K and 10 TD’s this year.

  11. Brandon Says:

    Tom usually did destroy Cover 1 in years past with Bucs… last year wasn’t that year. Getting a team out of Cover 0 or 1 requires you to beat them down the field, which Brady refused to even try during the first three quarters of every game. Keep defense worried about deep ball and keep them in Cover 2… while simultaneously helping the running game. Throw smoke screens and checkdown constantly and there’s no reason for a team to play anything BUT Cover 1.

  12. Cobraboy Says:

    I would be shocked if the Glazers did not make Evans a Buc for Life.

  13. unbelievable Says:

    Same, cobraboy

  14. unbelievable Says:

    Ira told Mike he’s not HOF material yet though…

  15. garro Says:

    That ui why you are the man in Canton Ira!

    Go Bucs!

  16. Diggler Says:

    Might take Mike 4 or 5 tries to get HOF but he deserves it. If Art Monk can get in Mike is a no-brainer.