Sooner or later in time, Mike Evans’ streak of consecutive 1,000 seasons goes to come back to an finish.
Is that this going to be the yr – with the Bucs having much more weapons than ever to unfold the ball round to? Or will Evans end 2021 with eight consecutive 1,000-yard seasons in serving to Tampa Bay defend its Tremendous Bowl title?
Final season, Evans broke Randy Moss’ file of six straight years with 1,000 receiving yards to begin a profession final yr to grow to be the one NFL participant with seven consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.
Evans set the file with a primary quarter catch in opposition to Atlanta within the common season finale to present him 70 receptions for 1,006 yards earlier than spraining his knee on his subsequent goal, which was in the long run zone.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Picture by: Cliff Welch/PR
“It meant the world for him to get that file after which to have a straightforward landing [dropped when he got hurt],” Bucs head coach Bruce Arians mentioned after the Falcons sport. “The turf was actually slick in the long run zones and it was only a freaky factor.”
Evans didn’t return to the sport, however valiantly performed by the damage within the postseason, catching 11 passes for 204 yards (18.5 avg.) and two touchdowns, together with six receptions for 119 yards (19.8 avg.) the following week at Washington within the wild card playoff.
This was not Evans’ first shut name with falling in need of the file. He caught 71 passes for 1,001 yards (14.1 avg.) and 5 touchdowns on 135 targets in 2017.
If Evans streak ends this yr it is going to be due to one in every of two elements – or each mixed. The primary motive can be damage.
Evans battled by a hamstring damage early within the season. Then he had a badly sprained ankle he suffered in Week 4 that lingered by a lot of the season earlier than taking part in by his Week 17 knee damage.
But Evans didn’t miss a sport and wound up breaking his personal single-season file with 13 landing catches in 2020.
Evans tore his hamstring late within the 2019 marketing campaign, which brought about him to overlook the ultimate three and a half video games of the season. But he nonetheless caught 67 passes for 1,157 yards (17.3 avg.) and eight touchdowns on 118 targets in 13 video games earlier than that season ended prematurely.
The excellent news for Evans, who has handled hamstring points prior to now, is that he’s in unbelievable form.
“I really feel nice,” Evans mentioned. “I’m studying how you can deal with my physique higher within the offseason. Understanding extra, and understanding smarter as properly. I really feel like that’s been key. I undoubtedly really feel rather a lot higher than I’ve prior to now in OTAs and mini-camp.”
“Incredible,” Arians mentioned. “He’s in nice form. In all probability the most effective form I’ve seen Mike on this time of yr.”
Arians marveled at Evans’ toughness and talent to struggle by accidents final yr.
“If he’s 80 %, we’d need to struggle to maintain him off the sector,” Arians mentioned after Evans’ knee damage in opposition to Atlanta. “Him at 80 % is healthier than plenty of guys at 100, so we’ll see what he’s and the way he feels. His management and his toughness – when Chris [Godwin] was down, there was no method he was going to remain out. He went on the market on one leg and performed about three video games on one leg and nonetheless carried out properly.”
If Evans can keep wholesome in 2021 he may be much more efficient and environment friendly than he was a yr in the past whereas being slowed with accidents.
However with Antonio Brown re-signed, tight finish O.J. Howard returning after lacking the final 12 video games of the common season and the postseason with a torn Achilles tendon, and the drafting of huge receiver Jaelon Darden, Evans is perhaps focused even much less this yr. That will make reaching 1,000 yards much more troublesome.
Regardless of taking part in in all 16 video games, Evans noticed the fewest targets in his profession in 2020 with simply 109. Evans’ greatest statistical seasons have include many extra alternatives to catch the ball.
He was focused a career-high 175 instances in 2016, catching 96 passes for 1,321 yards (13.8 avg.) and 12 touchdowns. Two years later in 2018, Evans was focused 139 instances, catching 86 passes for 1,524 yards (17.7 avg.) and eight TDs.
Evans is as selfless as they arrive and doesn’t beg for the soccer. And he doesn’t thoughts that Arians and common supervisor Jason Licht have stocked Tampa Bay’s arsenal with weapons within the passing sport – even when it diminishes his statistics for the sake of victories.
“I don’t have a alternative,” Evans laughed. “However after all, who wouldn’t need to play with nice gamers and guys that may make performs reverse you? That’s all you need. I believed we complemented one another properly final yr. We undoubtedly have 10-plus guys that may have a game-breaking sport at any time. It feels actual good to have that a lot expertise on the market.”
Evans will flip 28 in August and remains to be within the prime of his profession. If he’s wholesome for all 16 video games there isn’t any motive to imagine that he gained’t file an NFL-record eighth season with 1,000 yards or extra – even with fewer targets due to the array of weapons that Tom Brady should throw to.
The reason being as a result of he’s an elite receiver. That’s what Evans does – produce 1,000-yard seasons.
Bucs WR Mike Evans – Picture by: USA Right this moment
And Arians and Brady understand how vital the streak is to Evans. They’ll force-feed him the ball if they will down the stretch to assist him make historical past as soon as once more.
Sure, it is perhaps nearer to the 1,006-yard mark that he had final yr reasonably than the 1,524-yard season he produced in 2018. That’s when the Bucs had far fewer weapons. However the one factor that can stand in the way in which of Evans extending his personal streak is one thing he can’t management – accidents. He’s performed his half to attempt to stop that by being in excellent form this offseason.
Evans acknowledged his two targets heading into the 2021 season final Thursday on the ultimate day of Bucs mini-camp.
“Clearly No. 1 is getting again to the postseason and defend our title and win one other Tremendous Bowl,” Evans mentioned. “I undoubtedly need to lengthen the file – the streak of 1,000-yard seasons. And simply have enjoyable – have plenty of enjoyable this season. Simply keep injury-free as a lot as doable.”
Evans’ streak will ultimately finish.
However don’t count on it to occur any time quickly.