Mike Evans kept in check in last two Bucs wins
Mike Evans still ranks in the NFL's top five in catches, receiving yards and touchdown receptions, but two weeks in a row, opposing defenses have gone out of their way to neutralize him, holding him to a combined 80 yards and no scores in wins against the Chargers and Saints.
"It's a concern," coach Dirk Koetter said of his production in the last two weeks. "There's only so much we can do about it. If a defense is going to commit itself to take a guy out, they're probably going to be able to do it. There are only so many things you can do to a wide receiver. If it's a running back, you can turn around and hand it to him. ... Teams are definitely tilting their coverage, they're getting up and jamming him, they're rolling the safety that way. There are still routes that can be successful."
Evans had at least 50 receiving yards in each of the Bucs' first 11 games, despite playing much of the season without a true No. 2 receiver with veterans Vincent Jackson, Louis Murphy and Cecil Shorts sidelined by major injuries. Evans had three catches for 38 yards at San Diego, then four catches for 42 yards in the win against New Orleans, his quietest two-game stretch since the first month of Jameis Winston's rookie season.
Koetter said in addition to extra coverage from New Orleans' defense, the Bucs had a few plays lined up for Evans that didn't work out for various reasons.
"We had Mike some other times, and for one reason or another ... iit just hasn't come together exactly right, and I have to do a better job of getting these guys in position to have a chance to be successful," he said.
With three games left, Evans is still challenging the Bucs' team receiving records -- his 10 touchdowns are two short of his own team record, and he'd need a strong finish to catch the others, needing 26 catches to get Keyshawn Johnson's receptions record of 106 and 322 yards to catch Mark Carrier's record of 1,422.