1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Bucs receiver Mike Evans will look to escape his ‘dementors’ in London

The Harry Potter fan may find time to see a few sites related to the book, but his focus will be restoring his greatness.
After hauling in four passes for 61 yards in a Week 2 win against Carolina, receiver Mike Evans will look to improve upon those numbers in the rematch in London. [BRIAN BLANCO | AP]
Published Oct. 10

TAMPA — Bucs receiver Mike Evans, as big a Harry Potter fan as you can find, looks forward to finding a few Hogwarts-related experiences on the Bucs’ trip to London this week.

But Evans sounds like he would rather challenge “He who must not be named” than endure the across-the-Atlantic flight and adjust to the 5-hour time change.

“Just trying to get through this flight and get this game over with and hopefully come back to America with a W and enjoy the bye week,” Evans said of the team’s NFC South rematch against Carolina at London’s Tottenham Hotspur Stadium. “That’s my best-case scenario right there.”

“This is going to be a huge game for us,” Evans added, “and we need it really bad.”

To get the win, Evans will have to overcome the dementors who have stolen some of his onfield happiness. In last week’s 31-24 road loss to the Saints, they held the Bucs’ best player without a catch for just the second time in his six-year NFL career.

“Bottom line, to win football games, we’ve got to get Mike Evans the ball,” quarterback Jameis Winston said.

Overall, Evans has produced uneven numbers this season. He has just one 100-yard game — an eight-catch, 180-yard, three-touchdown game against the Giants in Week 3. His second-best performance came in a Week 4 win at Los Angeles, where he had four receptions for 89 yards. But 67 of those yards came on a single touchdown.

Keep in mind, he entered this season after posting career-high 1,524 yards on 86 receptions in 2018.

The Saints took Evans out of the game. Winston targeted him just three times Sunday, and he didn’t see a pass come his way for more than 15 yards, his deep-play ability taken away by Saints defensive backs who kept Evans in front of them.

“It was Cover 2 most of the time,” Evans said. “I’m sure that me and the coaches thought that when a corner follows somebody, they play more man than zone, but it was predominantly all zone, maybe a couple snaps of man here and there. That’s what we saw. We just need to do a better job of making adjustments.”

Evans frequently sees his share of double teams, and he often beats them, but the combination of cornerback Marcus Lattimore and safety Marcus Williams paired up in zone defense to stop Evans.

Of the three balls Winston threw Evans’ way, only one appeared to be catchable. Saints outside linebacker Demario Davis deflected one red zone pass — intended for Evans in the end zone — at the line of scrimmage. Another throw to Evans on an out route was low. And Williams, in man coverage, broke up the only other pass intended for Evans.

“It seems like the same picture,” Evans said. “I’d seen (Lattimore) and (Williams) to my side the whole game, about 80 percent of the game. I guess I have to do a better job of getting open. I don’t know. I guess I have to move around a little bit.”

Bucs coach Bruce Arians said Evans came open a few times, but Winston, flushed out of the pocket, couldn’t get him the ball.

“He’s open two or three times when we’re getting shoved out of the pocket and can’t get our feet (set) to get back there to him,” Arians said. “So that combination of rush and coverage got him affected pretty good.”

Winston agreed that he found Evans open “two or three times” but executing a pass to get him the ball “was iffy.”

“They did a good job,” Winston said.

This week, Evans will match up against a familiar foe in Panthers cornerback James Bradberry, whom Evans has had success against. Bradberry, however, also led the way in holding Evans to one catch on 10 targets in Carolina last year.

“He’s a good physical corner,” Evans said. “He knows all my routes. Everybody in the division knows every route that I’m going to run already I feel like, and I know how they’re going to play it. So we both have the advantage of playing each other so much.”

Arians said the Bucs need to move Evans around more, which potentially spells more snaps in the slot so he can utilize his route-running strengths. In Arians’ offense, receiver Chris Godwin has excelled, taking more of the offensive snaps in the slot position.

Last week, Evans played just six of his 56 snaps in the slot. In his three-touchdown game against the Giants, Evans logged a season-high 15 of 67 plays in the slot.

“I think (it’s on) everybody, me, the coaches. I think everybody can help get him more involved, get him the football,” Winston said. “We’ve just got to get him the ball. There’s nothing much else to say to it.”

Contact Eduardo A. Encina at Follow @EddieInTheYard.


  1. Packers' Aaron Rodgers throws a touchdown pass in front of the Raiders' Johnathan Hankins Sunday. Rodgers threw for five touchdowns and rushed for a sixth for Green Bay. JEFFREY PHELPS  |  AP
    Road to Miami Gardens: Rodgers’ six-touchdown effort highlights Week 7 in the NFL
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston talks to reporters after an NFL football game against the New Orleans Saints in New Orleans, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019. The Saints won 31-24. (AP Photo/Butch Dill) BUTCH DILL  |  AP
    Sports Day Tampa Bay: What’s next for the Bucs, Astros-National World Series preview, the Lightning’s short-circuit start
  3. Jameis Winston is on pace to gain 4,700 yards this season and throw 32 touchdown passes and 27 interceptions. All of which would be career highs. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Franchise-altering decisions loom for Tampa Bay as it nears the halfway point of the season. Among them: Should the Bucs be buyers or sellers at the trade deadline? How much stock should they place in...
  4. Thumbs up: Need 300 passing yards? A couple of touchdown passes? Oatmeal recommendations? Kirk Cousins is your guy. BRUCE KLUCKHOHN  |  AP
    Kirk Cousins and Chase Edmonds lead this week’s list of players you should stash now.
  5. These are unquestionable the three greatest Bucs of all time. But who's the greatest? Tampa Bay Times
    Counting down from No. 25 to 1: Choosing between three Hall of Famers.
  6. What would separate Trent Dilfer from Vinny Testaverde and Jameis Winston? How about a visit to the postseason and a Pro Bowl invitation. Tampa Bay Times
    Counting down from 50 to 26: There will be a debate about the quarterbacks in this group and the receivers.
  7. Steve Young was a supplemental draft pick of the Bucs in 1984 and started 19 games for Tampa Bay in 1985 and 1986 before he was traded to the 49ers for a pair of draft picks in 1987. THE ASSOCIATED PRESS Tampa Bay Times
    Counting down from No. 75 to 51: A reminder of how difficult it is to sustain a full NFL career.
  8. Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman turned in some quality seasons, but never reached the playoffs. CLIFF MCBRIDE
    Counting down No. 100 to 76 includes one of the franchise’s biggest flops, an NFL rookie of the year and a future broadcasting star.
  9. Mike Ditka was thrilled about getting a $12,000 salary with the Bears at age 22: "I went out and bought a new car. I had it going.” AP Photo/Matt Slocum
    He’s had a remarkable life as an NFL player, coach, actor and pitchman.
  10. Emphasizing the role of Cameron Brate, who scored against Carolina last week, should just be one change the Bucs coaching staff should consider. ALASTAIR GRANT  |  AP
    Bruce Arians and his staff need to consider making some changes during the bye week to save a 2-4 season