After Sunday’s loss to the Browns, Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles said it’s a “good question” as to why quarterback Tom Brady and receiver Mike Evans aren’t doing a better job of connecting on pass plays. On Thursday, Evans tried to provide the answer.
“Obviously practice helps, but we’ve been getting some good reps in,” Evans told reporters on Thursday. “It’s a game of inches and everything matters, so I have to be better. I’m used to getting two, three yards of separation on multiple routes. I’ve got to get back to that.”
Why didn’t he get more separation against the Browns?
“I had a lot of ‘go’ routes, a lot of fades and ‘go’ routes,” Evans said. “And [Browns cornerback Martin Emerson Jr.] played it [well], he was over top, soft-press, and we just didn’t connect. I definitely caught one, but it didn’t count, and the other three, I’ve got to get a little more separation like I usually do.”
Evans was asked whether Brady was reading the coverage properly.
“Yeah, he’s reading it right,” Evans said. “It’s on me.”
It won’t get any easier against the Saints, given that cornerback Marshon Lattimore has become Evans’s top NFL nemesis.
“We’re two competitors, two competitors, two of the best in the business and we go at it,” Evans said. “We get physical and it’s a good matchup.”
It’s such a good matchup that Lattimore has a habit of prompting Evans to blow a fuse. In Week Two, Evans ended up being suspended for shoving Lattimore to the ground after a play.
Evans knows he needs to find a way to not let Lattimore get under his skin.
“I just can’t like, shove somebody out of the air, but I’ve just got to keep my emotions in check and play hard just like I always do,” Evans said.
It’s an important matchup between players, given the stakes of the matchup between teams. The Buccaneers are trying to keep first place in the NFC South, and the Saints are only one behind them in the win column.