Mike Evans seeks better production with Jameis Winston in Year 2
Mike Evans led the Bucs last year with 74 catches and 1,206 yards, both up from his rookie year, but with only three touchdowns and lingering problems with dropped passes, he's working to build a better relationship with QB Jameis Winston in their second year together.
"We've been hanging out more. We're both busy guys, but we find time to hang out and throw when we can," Evans said Monday on the first day of the team's offseason conditioning workouts. "I agree with (head coach) Dirk Koetter: Our chemistry was a little off last year, mostly on my end though. I feel it won't be a problem this year."
Koetter said he's confident because both his quarterback and receiver are aware they're capable of doing more than they did in their first season together. That understanding and competitiveness will help them take their connection to another level this fall, he said.
"They're not blind to the amount of talent that those two guys have," Koetter said. "The better those two guys play and the better those two guys execute, the better off our football team will be. They're not blind to that. Even though statistically speaking, both of those guys had pretty decent seasons last year, the bottom line is still wins in the NFL and for us to win, Jameis and Mike have to become a more lethal combination, and I'm quite confident that they will."
The two have spent time hanging out at each other's houses, just bonding over video games, and Winston said they need the high level of trust to be confident when the team needs game-changing plays at the end of close games.
"It's creating a steady relationship where we depend on each other," Winston said. "There are going to be situations in a game where I have to look at Mike: 'I need you on this play.' And he's going to look at me and be like 'Jameis, come my way. I got you.' Developing that relationship on and off the field is going to be good."
Evans caught 50.3 percent of his targeted passes, the lowest percentage of any of the NFL's top 30 receivers in total yards. He led the NFL in dropped passes with 11, but said he's confident the Bucs offense, if healthy, can improve on last year, when they ranked in the top five in the NFL in total yards but weren't as consistent in piling up points and touchdowns.
"We've got a lot of the same pieces back, mostly on offense," he said. "We've got Dougie (Martin) back. He's a beast. Jameis is only going to get better. I'm going to get better. With a healthy V-Jax (Vincent Jackson), sky's the limit."