The Buccaneers have beefed up their offense for 2017. The thinking is that the new players may open up the field for receiver Mike Evans. There’s a chance, however, that Evans will open up the field for them.
“I’m going to be happy [with the field opening up for me] when I see it,” Evans told reporters on Thursday. “Teams don’t do a good job of disguising — last year they didn’t — double teaming. I would see the safety over there, it would be one safety and he would be shaded to my side and I would get a lot of two-man and busted coverage. This year, if they do that, that’s fine with me because we have a lot of weapons that Jameis [Winston] can work with.”
Ultimately, teams will have to pick their poison when it comes to doubling Evans or receiver DeSean Jackson. With tight ends O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate also in the mix, a potent options always will be facing single coverage. It may rarely be Mike Evans.
“Mike is a guy that the defense has to honor, and a lot of defenses that we see, they double him,” coach Dirk Koetter told reporters. “It’s going to be harder to double Mike when we have better players around him, better players and more explosive players in the other spots. . . . Mike’s confidence is at an all-time high. Two years ago, I didn’t think he and Jameis had great chemistry between them — I’m not talking about as people, just on the field — and that’s come so far. That was on display a little bit today. I think Mike, like a lot of our guys, the main goal is to win, not create stats. The goal is to win games.”
Evans has three straight 1,000-yard seasons, with his best (96 catches, 1,321 yards, two touchdowns) coming in 2016 despite the double teams.