Mike Evans will be key focus in the red zone for the Bucs
Mike Evans posted six touchdowns in 2022, the third-lowest of his career and his lowest since 2017. Coming off a Pro Bowl-caliber 2021 season where the star wide receiver put up 1,028 yards and 14 touchdowns, last season’s lack of red zone production was a point of contention.
Tampa Bay coach Todd Bowles recognized Evans’ dip as an issue Tuesday.
“We’ve got to make that a priority, obviously,” Bowles told reporters, via PFT.com. “I think we made it a priority last year. Sometimes it was shut down; sometimes we just misread it here and there, whether it was on the receiver, the [quarterback] or offensive linemen. We’ve got to get better in that area in getting him the football.”
Despite having Tom Brady at the helm, the Bucs had trouble scoring in 2022. They ranked 15th in total yards per game, 25th in points scored and 25th in red zone efficiency.
The Bucs’ offensive struggles can be somewhat directed at the team’s head coaching shift, as they went from an offensive savvy coach in Bruce Arians to Todd Bowles, a defensive guru.
During Arians’ run as head coach, the Bucs had a record of 49-31 and won a Super Bowl, with one of the top offenses in the league through the 2020 and 2021 seasons. Those were the same years that Evans amassed 2,041 yards and 27 touchdowns and earned one Pro Bowl nomination.
Keeping the Streak Alive
Unfortunately for Evans, Brady announced his retirement in 2022. Now, Kyle Trask and Baker Mayfield will compete for the starting job in 2023.
Evans is already the most prolific offensive player in Bucs history, and he’s only 29 years old. He has amassed 683 receptions, 10,425 yards and 81 touchdowns throughout his career, and is the only receiver in NFL history to have nine straight seasons of 1,000 yards or more.
However, Evans’ streak might be in jeopardy given the new quarterback change. Still, having another prolific wide receiver in Chris Godwin — who will draw attention away from Evans — will make that task a little easier.
Red Zone Threat
“We know [Evans is] a threat, and we know he’s a great player,” Bowles said, “so we’ve got to constantly find ways — not just him, but Chris as well — we’ve got to find ways to get those guys the ball.”
Needless to say, having Evans, a 6-foot-5 red zone threat, battle for contested catches and hauling in touchdowns will be crucial for Tampa Bay’s success next season.
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