TAMPA – Outside of the 39-yard circus catch he made at the end of an 11-second-long Jameis Winston scramble play, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans didn’t have a very big game against the Chicago Bears last year.
Bracketed and double-teamed throughout the day, the eventual 2016 Pro Bowler wound up catching just four passes, none of which went for a touchdown, for 66 yards, his seventh-lowest yardage output of the season.
Evans had a much bigger game against the Bears this year. In what became the Bucs season opener last Sunday, Evans had a much-more Evans-like afternoon, catching seven of the nine passes thrown his way for 93 yards and a touchdown.
The difference? DeSean Jackson.
Like Evans a year ago, Jackson didn’t put together the kind of game against the Bears that jumps off the stat sheet at you. He caught just three passes for 39 yards. His mere presence, though, freed up Evans to be the game changer he’s capable of being.
Take that touchdown catch for example. It came on a first-down play from the Bears 13, where Evans was matched on the far right side of the field against a single cornerback, whom he easily beat to make the catch of Winston’s fade pass into the end zone.
The reason Evans faced single coverage, though, was because Jackson was put in a bunch formation on the other side of the field that forced the single high safety on the play to wait until Winston first looked Jackson’s way before committing to Evans.
The Bucs didn’t have anyone to draw the safety’s attention away from Evans a year ago, not just in the Bears game but in a lot of games down the stretch, which is why the Bucs believe Jackson is already having an impact on the way defenses are treating Evans.
“The year before, they doubled (Evans) every time we got inside the 10-yard line,’’ Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken explained. “So we didn’t have that opportunity (to throw to Evans that was presented to us this year). They didn’t give it to us.’’
According to Evans, the Bears gave the Bucs that opportunity regularly throughout their 29-7 opening-day victory last Sunday.
“Yeah, there was a lot more one-high stuff this year, a lot more man coverage,’’ Evans said. “And that’s what we want. Coach Dirk (Koetter) is going to put us in a good position to get the one-on-one matchups, so we’ve just got to win ‘em when we get ‘em.’’
The Bucs have long thought Jackson would have that kind of impact. That’s why they brought him aboard this past spring when they signed him to a three-year, $33.5 million deal in free agency.
Their thinking then was that in addition to providing Winston with one of the best deep threats in the game, Jackson would also create greater opportunities for other players throughout the lineup.
It took just one game for that their theory to be proved correct.
Bucs coach Arians again non-committal Tuesday on QB Winston
It’s become increasingly apparent, that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are ready to move on from potential free agent quarterback Jameis Winston. And Tuesday at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis, coach Bruce Arians gave the latest example that he and the Buccaneers front office will look at the other options available first.
Arians spoke at a podium on numerous subjects, but the most prominent is what Tampa Bay will do in the coming days with Winston?
— Charlie Clifford (@cliffWISH8) February 25, 2020
Arians was asked directly about potential for a franchise tag for his starter a year ago and what the Bucs might proceed to do? But, he refused to endorse that option on the former number one overall pick Winston. And, the Bucs coach maintained that the team will possibly us the franchise tag for defensive end Shaq Barrett.
Further, Arians gave a pointed specific answer on Winston’s poor play last December as the team finished 7-9 and that has the team looking at other options,
Arians on Winston and why it’s still uncertain: “December wasn’t what I wanted to see.”
— Greg Auman (@gregauman) February 25, 2020
Arians has consistently refused back Winston since the off-season began. This included at an NFL coaching seminar earlier this month in Tampa. He said to the media at that time:
“Really nothing has changed,” Arians said. “What’s Door No. 2? You know? Can we make the one we have better? All those things you go through right now.”
“You’re just sitting there waiting to see is there someone available? … Is he a better option?
The Buccaneers faltered in the middle of the season to drop to 3-7 and then, Winston and Co. blew its final two games to finish 7 – 9 with Winston throwing a career-high 30 interceptions.
After their final loss at home to Atlanta in overtime, where Winston threw the game losing “pick six,” Arians was candid after the final game by saying about Winston’s play that it would have to be evaluated pass by pass and game by game in the off-season. Further, he told the media then, that there “was some great and some terrible…. and you have to decide, if the great outweighs the terrible.”
While Winston did throw for a career-high 5000 + yards in 2019, his interceptions and total turnovers continued to be his downfall throughout the season. The Buccaneers finished 1 – 6 in games against teams with winning records and Winston had 17 total turnovers in those seven games. He finished with the 30 picks that included 10 of them in the Bucs final four games.
Tampa Bay obviously will have the opportunity to go after a free agent quarterback or two, as there is much speculation about the likes of Tom Brady with the Patriots. Plus, Philip Rivers will not be re-signed by the Chargers and is available come March. And, now that Drew Brees has announced he wants to play at least one more year for the Saints, their backup Teddy Bridgewater will be in demand on the market.
The Bucs are also continuing the evaluating the QB class for the Draft the next few days in Indy, which could have some interesting names still available in the second and third rounds and beyond.
Bucs confirmed Monday they will have new uniforms in 2020
On Monday, the Bucs confirmed what they have been hinting at, they will have new uniforms in 2020. But the real question is: what does “new” mean in this instance?
We heard you!
New uniforms coming April 2020. pic.twitter.com/e7qNUsNWZb
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) February 24, 2020
The Bucs also released a statement through their website confirming that April will be the unveiling of the new uniforms, as well as, potential new color scheme, logo, etc. and had these comments from co – owner, Ed Glazer:
“We have heard the feedback from our fans loud and clear and have been working with the NFL and our league partners at Nike to usher in a new look as we enter this next decade of Buccaneers football. We look forward to revealing more details in the near future about our official unveiling event which will take place later this spring.”
As we wrote earlier this month, the Buccaneers have been hinting at trying to enhance their uniforms and there is some belief there will be more orange, the original color of the franchise. There is also educated speculation that the team may go back to a white helmet, which will enable them to have “throwback uniform games” that they’ve not been able to have for the last seven seasons.
This is because under league concussion protocol, players must have the same helmet all season and the Bucs primary one has been pewter in color since their chance in colors and logo in 1997,
The Bucs last altered their uniforms in 2014 by brightening the color red and slightly changing the logo and making it bigger on their pewter helmet. Teammates Ryan Jensen and Mike Evans are shown in the current color scheme, etc. above.
NFL teams have to submit changes in their colors and logos a year in advance. So obviously, this has been in the works for the Glazer family that owns the team for some time.
It should be noted that the Buccaneers NFC South Rivals, the Atlanta Falcons, have already made mention that they are changing their uniforms and color scheme. And, it’s believed that they will go back in 2020 to their original base color of red including possibly red helmets and potentially, primarily gray pants that they wore for over twenty years.
The Falcons have had black helmets for the better part of 30 years going back to Jerry Glanville changing the color scheme to primarily black jerseys in his days at the Falcons coach in the early 1990s.
Back to the Bucs. There is no other team in the NFL that has orange as their primary jersey color. The Bengals Broncos and Browns have occasionally worn orange “alternate jerseys” but not full time.
So, if the Glazers are again embracing a change to mostly orange jerseys, it will be unique. The video Monday showed a red jersey on a sewing machine, which could be a clue or could be misdirection of what the team actually intends to unveil in April.