Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Bucs

Bucs-Saints: How the NFL is getting Mossed by Mike Evans

Rick Stroud The Bucs receiver could join his idol by eclipsing 1,000 receiving yards for the sixth straight year
Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans could soon reach an NFL milestone that only Pro Football Hall of Famer Randy Moss has attained. It could happen Sunday against the Saints. [MONICA HERNDON | Tampa Bay Times]
Published Nov. 16

TAMPA — As a freshman quarterback at Marshall, Byron Leftwich used to throw passes to Randy Moss, who would come back to the campus in Huntington, W.Va. to work out following his rookie year with the Minnesota Vikings.

Now the Bucs offensive coordinator has another tall, acrobatic receiver to get the football to in Mike Evans.

Moss and Evans’ careers have a chance to intersect Sunday with Leftwich watching. If Evans has 76 yards receiving Sunday against the Saints, he will join Moss as the only players in NFL history to have six consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons to begin their careers.

“It’s very unique to see guys that tall and that long be able to make the plays that they make," Leftwich said. "That’s the first thing I told Mike when I first met Mike. Not to compare Mike to Randy, right? You’re talking about a Hall of Fame guy, you’re talking about a guy in his sixth year. But at the same time, having an opportunity to throw to Randy when I was a young football player in college, seeing Mike, seeing how they both move, how they’re both able to put their body in position to make certain plays. For them to be tall, they do unique things to be tall wide receivers.’’

Evans, 26, is on pace for a career-high 1,642 receiving yards this season. He’s second in the NFL with 924 receiving yards and tied for first with seven touchdown receptions. At 6-foot-5, 225-pounds, Moss has always been his receiving idol. What would the record mean?

“It means a lot, a guy that I’ve looked up to.,’’ Evans said. “Everybody has looked up to. He has a catch named after him. How cool is that? It’s just great. It would be cool to be just me and him and then hopefully, I’ll stay healthy next year and surpass him. That would be cool.’’

It may even more if Evans matches Moss Sunday against the Saints. In Week 5, Evans was held to three targets and without a catch Oct. 6 in the Bucs’ 34-27 loss at New Orleans. Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore, who received a lot of the credit for shutting down Evans, will not play Sunday due to a hamstring injury.

Leftwich also will have to have a better game plan to prevent the Saints from taking their best player on offense out of the game.

“We’ll put him in different places,’’ Leftwich said. “We’ll move him around. We’ll go to him when he gets his one-on-one matchups. When a guy is that special, when a guy is that good, the ball will find its way to him more than not. It didn’t that game."

Evans has created a lot of opportunities for fellow receiver Chris Godwin. With most teams rolling coverage to Evans’ side, the Bucs slot receiver is fourth in the NFL with 62 receptions for 840 yards and six touchdowns.

“I’m pretty lucky to have that guy, Mike Evans,’’ quarterback Jameis Winston said. “He’s definitely going to be a Hall of Famer one day."

That is not as far-fetched as you may think. Evans has 449 receptions for 7,027 yards and 47 touchdowns. If he averages 1,000-yards receiving for the next seven seasons, he would finish with more than 14,000 yards, which would currently rank among the top 12 all-time.

“I love Jameis. That’s very, very premature but I appreciate the support,’’ Evans said. “I got a lot, a lot of work to do starting this Sunday.’’

Two-minute thrill

Got two minutes? That’s when Jameis Winston is at his best. The Bucs quarterback has put his team in position to score at the end of the last four halves of football he’s played, producing three touchdowns and a missed field goal.

Winston is first in the NFL with 567 passing yards in the final two minutes of halves, the most in the NFL. His 41 completions in those situations ranks second. Winston’s eight touchdowns at the end of halves this season are the most in the league by three.

“He’s been doing this the whole time,’’ Leftwich said. “I think he makes a lot of positive plays, more times than not. More times than not. Guys like to pick out what he didn’t do so well in a game, but you watch him week in and week out, I mean I see it every day. I see this guy playing well every day. I believe he’s going to play well every day in practice and in a game. I have that much confidence in him. We’ll see.’’

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampbay.com. Follow @NFLStroud

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Previewing Bucs-Saints

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Frank Reich's Colts go for it on fourth down roughly 20 percent of the time. DARRON CUMMINGS  |  Associated Press
    Coaches, gradually, are changing the way they think about fourth down. Frank Reich is leading the way, while Bruce Arians is lagging behind.
  2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians stops to autograph a football for seven-year-old Jhamius Metelus, of Deerfield Beach, before the start of the game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, November 10, 2019, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Your guide to the Tampa Bay-Indianapolis game at 1 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium.
  3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) listens as offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich gives him instructions during the second half of an NFL football game against the Jacksonville Jaguars Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019, in Jacksonville, Fla. (AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack) PHELAN M. EBENHACK  |  AP
    Rick Stroud | Bruce Arians says he wants to wait another month before making a recommendation to ownership. Here’s some reasons why.
  4. Indianapolis Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri (4) lines up for a kick against the Tennessee Titans during an NFL football game in Indianapolis, Sunday, Dec. 1, 2019. The Titans won the game 31-17. (Jeff Haynes/AP Images for Panini) JEFF HAYNES  |  AP
    The kicker and Pro Bowl receiver are injured. Expected back is former USF standout running back Marlon Mack.
  5. Tampa Bay Buccaneers running back T.J. Logan (22) runs against the New Orleans Saints during the first half of an NFL football game Sunday, Nov. 17, 2019, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio) MARK LOMOGLIO  |  AP
    Receiver Justin Watson will assume punt return duties starting Sunday
  6. Cameron Brate's collection of jerseys features teammates current and former and those of other players who probably have more in common with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end who went undrafted out of Harvard. [Photo provided by Cameron Brate]
    Tampa Bay tight end Cam Brate’s swap shop of jerseys is more than a numbers game.
  7. Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians in 2012 and Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach in 2019. LEFT: DARRON CUMMINGS | AP  RIGHT: JOHN AMIS I AP  |  AP
    The Bucs head coach received his first chance to lead an NFL sideline at Indianapolis: “There will always be a little blue horseshoe in my heart.”
  8. Bears receiver Anthony Miller dives in for a touchdown past the Cowboys' Chidobe Awuzie, right, during the second half on Thursday, Dec. 5, 2019. CHARLES REX ARBOGAST  |  AP
    Mitchell Trubisky passes for three touchdowns as Dallas loses for the seventh time in 10 games to drop to 6-7.
  9. Tampa Bay Vipers quarterback Aaron Murray tosses the ball during practice Thursday in Plant City. "It's grind time," he said. XFL
    The Vipers begin their offseason program in Plant City.
  10. Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston and the Bucs face the Indianapolis Colts at 1 p.m. Sunday at Raymond James Stadium. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Here are our picks for this week’s NFL games.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement