TAMPA – As one of just five receivers to ever catch more than a thousand yards worth of passes in his first three NFL seasons, Buccaneers wideout Mike Evans has already established himself as one of the game’s best pass catchers.
The general belief is that, especially in the short term, Evans will only get better because he now has one of the league’s best deep threats in DeSean Jackson to work the other side of the field and take away some of the double teams he’ll face.
The truth of the matter, though, is that from a pure production standpoint, Evans may not get a whole lot better.
Evans has steadily improved as both a pass catcher and route runner the last three years and his production has improved right along with it as his receptions have increased from 68 to 74 to 96 each year while his yardage totals have increased from 1,051 to 1,206 to 1,321.
That steady progression suggests Evans could top the 100-catch mark and push for 1,500 receiving yards this year, and it’s quite possible he will but Bucs coach Dirk Koetter is one who doesn’t seem to be counting on a big increase stat-wise.
Asked earlier this spring if he thought Evans could get even better, Koetter said Evans can still improve a lot of the technical aspects of his game but he hesitated to suggest Evans production numbers will increase much beyond where they are now.
“I’m not sure (how much better he can get) from a numbers standpoint, but Mike’s confidence is at an all-time high right now,’’ Koetter said. “And I think with Mike, like with a lot of our guys, the main goal is to win, not create stats. The goal is to win games.’’
Evans has admitted as much. Asked once during the spring if he’d be happy if the Bucs won more while he caught fewer passes Evans said, “Yeah, I don’t care. I’ll be fine if I catch zero passes if it helps us win the Super Bowl.’’
It’s doubtful the Bucs will win the Super Bowl if Evans is limited to no receptions, but it’s good to know Evans is not as driven by stats as some other pass catchers are. That, too, makes him a rather rare breed among his brethren.
Oh, and by the way, the four other receivers who have caught more than a thousand yards worth of passes their first three years kin the league are John Jefferson, A.J. Green, Randy Moss and Odell Beckham Jr., the latter of whom reached that mark last year just like Evans.