NFL Nation: Mike Evans

TAMPA, Fla. -- Tampa Bay Buccaneers receiver Mike Evans needs to set the recording device on his television for Sunday afternoon.

Without knowing the full NFL schedule, Evans said he was anxious to see former college teammate Johnny Manziel make his first NFL start.

"I hope they don't play the same time as we play," Evans said. "I want to see that."

Evans is out of luck as far as seeing Manziel live. Manziel and the Cleveland Browns play at the Cincinnati Bengals at 1 p.m. ET Sunday. That's the same time Evans and the Bucs play at the Carolina Panthers.

Evans and Manziel were a prolific duo on the Texas A&M football team, and they remain close friends. Evans said they talk often and Manziel hadn't voiced any displeasure over not starting earlier in the season.

"He hasn't shown any frustration, but I'm sure he was [frustrated]," Evans said. "His time's here. Make something of it."

Evans said he has no doubt Manziel can be as good in the NFL as he was in college.

"I think he'll do well," Manziel said. "When I played with him, some of the things he did were magical."

Evans has had a magical rookie season. He already has 10 touchdown catches, but he wishes Tampa Bay's record was better than 2-11.

"It's been frustrating," Evans said. "It's been tough. But I just want to win."

Evans has been his own biggest critic. Despite the fact he had two touchdown catches against Detroit on Sunday, Evans said he played his worst game of the season.

"Usually, I'm going to make the play percentages better," Evans said. "I thought I was being held, but I didn't get the flag so I should have made the play. That and my blocking wasn't as good as it's been. I think it was probably my worst game all year besides the touchdowns. I should have made more plays. I had a couple more opportunities to make plays and help my team get in better position to win the game. I didn't make the plays and blocking bad in the run game, too."

QB snapshot: Josh McCown

December, 9, 2014
Dec 9
A quick observation of quarterback Josh McCown and how he played in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 34-17 loss in Week 14:

McCown took a horrible pounding from one of the league’s best defensive fronts. He was sacked six times and hit a whole bunch of other times.

McCown had no chance because the Bucs were one-dimensional, with almost no running game to speak of. The Lions knew McCown was passing on just about every down and they came after him hard. McCown clearly was hobbling in the locker room after the game.

He completed 20 of 39 passes for 250 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He also lost a fumbled snap, but center Evan Dietrich-Smith took the blame for that. McCown had enjoyed good chemistry with rookie receiver Mike Evans this season. But Evans caught only four passes Sunday.

That’s because Detroit was throwing more coverage at Evans and less at Vincent Jackson. That allowed Jackson to turn in his best game of the season, with 10 catches for 159 yards.

Even if McCown is healthy after all the hits he took, he still might not finish the season as the starter. Coach Lovie Smith has been vague about the possibility of the Bucs taking a look at second-year pro Mike Glennon in the final three games.
DETROIT -- Seen and heard in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room after their 34-17 loss to the Detroit Lions.

Linebacker Lavonte David left the game in the second half and was evaluated for a possible concussion. Coach Lovie Smith said after the game that he didn’t have any update on David. The Bucs already were thin at linebacker with Mason Foster sitting out. Reserve linebacker Brandon Magee also got banged up and had to leave the game. If David is going to miss some time, the Bucs might have to sign another linebacker.

Quarterback Josh McCown was visibly limping in the locker room and his back had wrapping on it. McCown took a beating from the Lions. He was sacked six times and hit on a bunch of other plays. Right tackle Demar Dotson didn't sugarcoat things. Dotson said the offensive line isn't playing well at all.

Although he had two touchdown catches, rookie receiver Mike Evans said he played his worst game. Evans said his blocking wasn't up to par and he didn’t do a good enough job getting open. He finished with four catches for 45 yards and had a pass go off his hands that was intercepted. He said he thought he was interfered with on that play.

W2W4: Buccaneers vs. Lions

December, 6, 2014
Dec 6

Five things to watch in Sunday’s game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Detroit Lions:

Tampa Bay’s running game. The Bucs have been trying -- and usually failing -- to establish the running game all season. Now, they have to go up against a Detroit defense that’s No. 1 in the league against the run. It would be logical to think the Bucs simply will abandon the running game. But that’s not going to happen. Keep in mind that coach Lovie Smith is stubborn (sometimes to a fault). Running back Doug Martin is healthier than he’s been all season and the Bucs are going to try to get him on track.

Calvin Johnson vs. the Tampa Bay secondary. This looks like a mismatch, but Johnson looks like a mismatch against any secondary. The Bucs will throw a lot of coverage at Johnson and the safeties will be asked to provide plenty of help. But the Bucs can’t devote all their attention to Johnson because the Lions have a strong No. 2 receiver in Golden Tate.

Lovie’s luck. I had to look high and low for an encouraging stat for the Bucs. The folks at ESPN Stats & Information came up with one. Smith has won nine of the past 10 games in which he has faced Detroit. Overall, Smith’s Chicago teams were 13-5 against the Lions.

Mike Evans. The Tampa Bay rookie receiver is closing in on a milestone. He has 890 receiving yards. If he reaches 1,000 yards, he’ll be only the second rookie receiver in franchise history to reach that mark. Michael Clayton did it in 2004.

Decembers to forget. The Lions have lost nine straight games in the month of December. They haven’t won a December game since Christmas Eve in 2011.

QB snapshot: Josh McCown

December, 2, 2014
Dec 2
A quick observation of quarterback Josh McCown and how he played in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 14-13 loss in Week 13:

McCown did not have a good outing in Sunday’s loss to the Cincinnati Bengals. In a game in which the Bucs were focused on establishing the running game, McCown completed 15 of 29 passes for 190 yards and was intercepted once.

The game plan and the play calling didn’t help McCown as the Bucs stayed away from the deep passing game and the Bengals took Tampa Bay’s wide receivers out of the game. McCown targeted wide receivers 20 times but completed only seven of those attempts. Mike Evans and Vincent Jackson weren’t big factors.

It’s good that the Bucs are trying to establish a running game that has struggled all season. But this offense needs balance, and McCown needs to be able to take shots down the field at Evans and Jackson.
TAMPA, Fla. -- As the losses continue to pile up, it’s fair to wonder if Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith could follow the path of Rob Chudzinski and Mike Mularkey.

Chudzinski lasted only one season in Cleveland and Mularkey was ousted after one year in Jacksonville. Could Smith, whose team is 2-10, face the same fate?

Nothing is out of the question, but I think Smith is safe. Smith was ownership’s hand-picked coach to follow Greg Schiano and was given a five-year contract.

Ownership obviously can’t be delighted with the early results. But I think they are smart enough to look at the big picture, due largely to trial and error in the past. Since firing Jon Gruden after the 2008 season, the Bucs have gone through constant change.

From Raheem Morris to Schiano and now to Smith, the Bucs have kept overhauling their roster but never gave it a chance to stabilize. The Bucs have some good individual talent (Gerald McCoy, Mike Evans and Lavonte David to name a few) to build around. Some complementary players are needed, and that’s what the upcoming offseason is for.

But what the Bucs need more than anything right now is continuity. Smith isn’t like Morris or Schiano, who were unproven in the NFL. Smith won in Chicago, and history is the best indicator of what is to come. Smith needs another offseason to get the roster to where he needs it to be.

Smith hasn’t panicked this season. He’s stayed the course and stuck with his philosophies. I don’t anticipate that changing. Smith is a creature of habit.

And that’s a good thing. The last thing the Bucs need right now is another dramatic change. There’s no question some personnel moves need to be made, but the Bucs need stability.

They need to stick with Smith and let him finish what he has started.

LANDOVER, Md. – By now, you've probably realized that Tampa Bay Buccaneers rookie wide receiver Mike Evans is a pretty talented guy.

But Evans brings more skills than you realize. As it turns out, Evans can call plays. That's what he did on the first of his two touchdown catches in Sunday's 27-7 victory over Washington.

Technically, the play was called by quarterbacks coach Marcus Arroyo. But Evans put a new wrinkle on it as he went in motion and shouted to quarterback Josh McCown.

"We had a route called and it was something he was going to add on to it," McCown said. "We had talked about it, possibly, on the sideline. It was truly a last-second adjustment there and he made a great play."

Evans did pretty much whatever he wanted all day. He finished with seven catches for 209 yards, just nine yards short of the franchise record for receiving yards in a game. Evans' performance was historically good. According to ESPN Stats & Information, he became the first rookie receiver to record three straight 100-yard games with at least one touchdown since Randy Moss in 1998.

"Randy Moss was my favorite receiver," Evans said. "I just watched his '30 for 30' last night. It's great to be mentioned in the same caliber as him, but the win is more important than anything."

The win might not have come without Evans' big day. Tampa Bay (2-8) had blown five fourth-quarter leads this season. But Evans almost singlehandedly made sure it didn't happen again by putting the game too far out of reach.

Evans' first touchdown came with 4 minutes, 36 seconds remaining in the third quarter and it gave the Bucs a 20-7 lead. He followed that up with a 56-yard touchdown catch with 14:07 left in the fourth quarter. Coach Lovie Smith said he has never seen a rookie dominate the way Evans did.

"I have been in the league for a while and I just know that I haven't been with one that has been able to do some of the things he's done," Smith said. "He's still young. I've seen him grow so much. Lot of potential and really just competing hard. It will be a lot of fun to see his development."

McCown, a 13-year veteran, said Evans already is a special player.

"Obviously, Mike being the seventh pick [overall], you expect it more," McCown said. "But certainly to take over and do the things he did today is special. It's going to help our football team win games."

LANDOVER, Md. -- Ever since he was hired in January, we've heard Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith talk about "Buc Ball."

For the first nine games of the season, it looked as if the definition of that was to go out and play bad football. If the Bucs weren't getting routed, they were squandering fourth-quarter leads.

[+] EnlargeMike Evans
Mitchell Layton/Getty ImagesMike Evans' effort helped seal a Buccaneers victory that was driven by their defense.
But Sunday's 27-7 victory over the Washington Redskins showed everyone what Buc Ball is supposed to look like. With rookie wide receiver Mike Evans playing the role of closer, Tampa Bay's defense set the stage for a win with its best performance of the season.

"It just shows us what we're capable of," defensive end Michael Johnson said. "We can be very dangerous when we do that. We've got a lot of talented players together like that. When it all goes together, it's kind of an orchestra, a symphony, sweet music."

What Buc Ball is made up of is an aggressive and opportunistic defense coupled with an efficient offense. The Bucs took the offense to extra heights, thanks to Evans, who finished with seven catches for 209 yards.

"[Evans] is just special," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "I'll just leave it at that."

Evans' two second-half touchdowns sealed the victory, but the defense already had the Bucs in control. It started on the first play of the game when linebacker Danny Lansanah intercepted a pass by Robert Griffin III to set up a quick field goal.

The 2-8 Bucs, who have been notoriously slow starters, followed up with cornerback Johnthan Banks returning a Griffin interception for a touchdown with 3:56 left in the first quarter.

The defensive heroics didn't end there. The Bucs also recovered a fumble and sacked Griffin six times.

"Our defense going on the field and getting a quick takeaway kind of set the tone," Smith said. "We haven't been able to take the ball away as much as we need to on the defensive side. Thought we had great pressure from our front. The front kind of set the tempo as much as anything."

That tempo might have been set by McCoy, who had 1.5 sacks. The unquestioned leader of the defense, McCoy gave a pregame speech that apparently hit home.

"It was the attitude," McCoy said. "I talked to the group before we went out there and told them we have to have a different type of attitude. We just took the attitude of, we expect to win, and we went out there and did what we had to do."

The Bucs did something else they hadn't been doing -- protected a lead. This is the same team that had blown fourth-quarter leads in each of the last three games and five times this season.

"We talk about 'play 60,'" Smith said. "Sixty good minutes. We haven't been able to start the game and finish it at the same time."

This time, the Bucs started and finished well. It was evidence that Buc Ball really can work.

"That's what they're supposed to do," Smith said. "That's our style of ball."

No tears from Bucs QB Josh McCown

November, 16, 2014
Nov 16
LANDOVER, Md. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' 27-7 victory against Washington at FedEx Field:
  • Although it seemed impossible after what happened last Sunday, quarterback Josh McCown opened his session with the media with a joke: "Last week, [did] y'all get wet?" That's what a victory can do for your mood. Last week, McCown was crying in the locker room after a loss to Atlanta. On Sunday, he was smiling.
  • Rookie wide receiver Mike Evans, who had seven catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns, might be becoming a household name in some sectors. But there was a funny moment in the hallway of the locker room. Evans was brought out to do a radio interview, and the producer shouted into his cellphone back to headquarters, "I've got Mike Smith ready to go."
  • Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said he gave a speech to the entire defense. The theme of it, he said, was "refuse to lose." He might want to try that one again next week.
CLEVELAND -- Seen and heard in the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' locker room after Sunday's 22-17 loss to the Cleveland Browns.

Rookie wide receiver Mike Evans said he was having fun with Johnny Manziel when he mimicked Manziel's money sign after one of his two touchdown catches. "It just came to my mind," Evans said. "That's one of my best buds. I just wanted to give him a hard time." Evans and Manziel, Cleveland's backup quarterback, were college teammates. They met on the field after the game, exchanged jerseys and talked about getting together in the offseason.

Coach Lovie Smith rarely is critical of his players. But he made an exception for the special teams. The Bucs had a field goal and a punt blocked. They also were called for an offside penalty on a Cleveland field goal attempt. The penalty gave the Browns a first down, and they ended up scoring a touchdown.

Cornerback Alterraun Verner said the Bucs were in three-deep coverage on Cleveland’s game-winning touchdown pass. Verner put the blame on himself for letting Taylor Gabriel get behind him.
TAMPA, Fla. -- There have been reports that other teams are interested in trading for Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Vincent Jackson, and the same goes for running back Doug Martin.

Usually, you can shrug off trade rumors because trades don't happen often in the NFL. But I'm not pushing aside the rumblings about Jackson and Martin.

That's because trading one or both of them makes sense. The Bucs, who entered the season saying they planned to win now, have shifted gears and they're talking about how young they are and how it takes time to develop. That's what happens when you get off to a 1-6 start.

It's no longer about this season. It's about next year and that's why Jackson and/or Martin could be expendable. Both players should have decent trade value and it might be wise for the Bucs to start stocking up on draft picks for next season.

Trading Jackson might hurt in the short term because he's the team's best receiver. But, in the big picture, dealing him could make sense. Jackson is 31 and receivers generally start declining in their early 30s. The Bucs already have Jackson's eventual replacement in rookie Mike Evans. Jackson also is making $10 million a year and that money could be used toward a number of other areas.

Still, I'll say there's only about a 25 percent chance the Bucs trade Jackson before Tuesday afternoon's deadline. But I'll double the chances on the possibility of a Martin trade.

That one makes more sense than Jackson. Martin clearly is not thriving in the current offensive system. But teams in need of a running back will remember Martin rushed for more than 1,400 yards as a rookie in 2012. He's only in his third season and that could make Martin attractive to other teams because he doesn't have a lot of wear and tear.

Backup Bobby Rainey has looked better than Martin this season. And third-round draft pick Charles Sims could return from injured reserve as early as this week. Sims was drafted by the current regime, presumably because the powers weren't completely sold on Martin.

As it turns out, they were right. It's become painfully obvious Martin is not a great fit in this offense. With Sims coming into the picture, I don't think that's going to change. If the Bucs can get a decent draft pick in a trade for Martin, they should make the deal.
TAMPA, Fla. -- If someone makes a lowlight film of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' season, they now have the perfect opening scene.

It came in Sunday’s 19-13 overtime loss to the Minnesota Vikings and it summed up the way things have been going for the 1-6 Buccaneers. It came on the first play of overtime.

Rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins caught a pass from Mike Glennon that would have been a first down. But what happened next decided the game. Minnesota’s Anthony Barr knocked the ball out of Seferian-Jenkins' hands. Barr grabbed the ball and ran 27 yards for a touchdown to win the game.

“No excuse," Seferian-Jenkins said. “I’ve got to hold onto the ball better than that.’’

Seferian-Jenkins’ mistake might have been one of youth. He was fighting for extra yardage when the fumble took place.

“You have to get down in that situation," coach Lovie Smith said. ‘We had a positive play. In an overtime situation, when you know if you score a touchdown down there, you’ve got to protect the ball. If you take the ball right away, then you have to protect it and you can’t have a takeaway on that end of the field. That’s Football 101 and we have to correct it.’’

Seferian-Jenkins’ play was crucial. But it wasn’t the only reason the Bucs lost. The offense did nothing for three quarters and the defense didn’t do anything special against rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. The Bucs could have won the game in regulation if cornerback Johnthan Banks had held onto a potential interception, but he did not.

“It’s not [Seferian-Jenkins’] fault that we lost the game,’’ wide receiver Mike Evans said. “There were a lot of other plays. We only scored 13 points as an offense. We’ve got to be better.’’
TAMPA, Fla. -- Observed and heard in the locker room after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost 19-13 in overtime to the Minnesota Vikings:
  • Seferian-Jenkins
    Give rookie tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins credit for being a standup guy. He faced the media after his fumble led to Minnesota's game-winning touchdown. Seferian-Jenkins took blame for the loss and said there's no excuse for not protecting the football.
  • Rookie wide receiver Mike Evans came to Seferian-Jenkins' defense. Evans said one play didn't decide the game. He's right. The Bucs could have won the game if they had made any one of a variety of other plays.
  • Coach Lovie Smith started off his news conference by saying the Bucs "eventually" will win a game at home. That kind of talk is starting to get really old.

I'll be back with more in a bit.
TAMPA, Fla. -- When the trade deadline starts to approach, there is always a lot of speculation about possible deals.

Oct. 28 is the deadline and the Buccaneers are getting their share of speculation. NFL Network reported over the weekend that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been fielding a lot of calls about wide receiver Vincent Jackson.

It’s important to note the report said other teams were calling. It did not say the Bucs were shopping Jackson.

On the surface, it wouldn’t make a lot of sense to trade Jackson. He’s the team’s best receiver and a captain. He’s respected in the locker room and in the community and seems to be the exact type of player coach Lovie Smith wants on his team.

But it’s not difficult to figure out where the speculation is coming from. Jackson would be a good addition to just about any team, especially one that’s in playoff contention. It’s pretty clear the Bucs probably aren’t going to the playoffs this season.

When a team is in that situation, it is often open to building toward the future, and that’s why Jackson’s name is coming up. He’s 31 years old and the Bucs have his heir apparent in rookie Mike Evans.

The Bucs likely don’t want to part ways with Jackson. But they at least have to listen to what other teams have to offer.

If they can get an early-round draft pick in return, this type of move suddenly could make a lot of sense.
TAMPA, Fla. -- Both of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' starting wide receivers are listed as questionable for Sunday’s game against Baltimore. But don’t go shuffling your fantasy team just yet.

The signs were encouraging Friday as Vincent Jackson (ribs) and Mike Evans (groin) participated on a limited basis in Friday’s practice. Coach Lovie Smith seemed optimistic Jackson and Evans will be able to play.

Smith wasn’t as optimistic about safety Dashon Goldson (ankle) and linebacker Jonathan Casillas. They both have been ruled out for Sunday. Defensive end Larry English (hamstring) participated on a limited basis and is listed as questionable.

Center Evan Dietrich-Smith also is listed as questionable. Dietrich-Smith was ill Friday, but Smith said he is confident the center will play Sunday. Quarterback Josh McCown (thumb) is listed as doubtful.

Middle linebacker Mason Foster, who missed three games with a shoulder injury but has practiced fully three times this week, is listed as probable.


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