Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans is coming off his worst game of the season so far, not just from a statistical standpoint, but from an emotional standpoint as well.
Evans caught just three passes for 38 yards during the Bucs 28-21 victory over the Chargers last week, his worst totals since he caught three passes for 39 yards against the Saints last Dec. 13.
It’s not those numbers that the Bucs are concerned about, though, it’s the fact that, for the first time this year, the high-strung Evans began to show some of the frustration that has hampered him in the past.
“There was more of that probably (this past) Sunday than there had been I think,’’ Bucs wide receivers coach and offensive coordinator Todd Monken said when asked about Evans frustration level.
“I’ve said it before, Mike is a prideful guy, a competitive guy. He wants to be really good and he takes coaching extremely well. But (he) can’t waste (his) energy (getting) frustrated.
“He has to know, ‘You’re going to get grabbed, you’re going to get held. They’re going to play physical because you like to pull and grab yourself and you’re going to garner their best defender.’
“I mean, I’ve told him ‘They’re going to cloud you at times so, ‘let’s go, let’s get after it, because that will complement our offense and then, when you do get your opportunity you have to take advantage of it.’’
Evans has so far taken full advantage of most of the opportunities he’s been presented. Even after a bad week, he still ranks third overall in the league in receptions (76), third in receiving yards (1,058) and is tied for second in touchdown receptions (10).
What the Bucs can’t afford is for those numbers to slip. After all, they’re down to using mostly practice squad call-ups at their other receiver spots after losing Cecil Shorts to a season-ending knee injury and Adam Humphries to a concussion.
The Bucs have done a tremendous job so far this year of getting clutch performances out of reserves, but to make the playoffs they’re going to need their best players to be their best players.