Final night time, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Dallas Cowboys kicked off the 2021-22 NFL season. What was once intended to be a blowout in lots of fanatics’ eyes, became an absolute mystery that had two lead adjustments within the ultimate two mins, in addition to a vintage Tom Brady last-minute comeback power to result in a game-winning box objective. Oh, and one missed call.
Dak Prescott appeared improbable in his first get started since his devastating harm final season. CeeDee Lamb and Amari Cooper each noticed the ball early and regularly to assist their quarterback out. Even in opposition to one of the crucial most sensible defensive gadgets within the NFL, and an absent Ezekiel Elliott (no longer his fault; he simply wasn’t part of Kellen Moore’s gameplan), the Cowboys appeared like respectable contenders.
On Tampa’s aspect, Tom Brady confirmed that he’s nonetheless were given a large number of arm left in him. Leonard Fournette made arguably the most important catch of the night time. Rob Gronkowski appeared improbable en path to 8 receptions, 90 yards, and two touchdowns. Antonio Brown appeared like the AB of previous (however nonetheless, screw Al Michaels), and Chris Godwin had himself an evening… excluding for the fumble at the goal line. The one individual that didn’t glance excellent was once Tampa Bay’s intended No.1 receiver, Mike Evans.
Evans, 28, has had a ancient NFL profession. He’s the one receiver ever to start out their profession with seven straight 1,000-yard seasons. Then again, throughout final night time’s sport, Evans didn’t seem like anyone who’d set data. He appeared like the No. 4 possibility at the Bucs’ offense. All the way through final night time’s sport, Evans was once focused most effective six instances — fewer than Gronkowski, Godwin, Brown, or even Fournette. Yikes! Tom Brady appeared Evans’s manner on 12 p.c of his passes.
To place the ones numbers in viewpoint, previous to final night time, right through his profession, Evans had most effective been targeted six or fewer times in a sport 24 instances (25 when you come with Week 14 of 2019 the place Evans were given injured early), and 7 of the ones video games got here final season. It was once a yr through which Evans won a goal percentage of simply 17.4 percent, and whilst he’s nonetheless led the Buccaneers in that class each season since 2015, he’s in fact won much less and not more of a goal percentage each season since 2017. Whilst I’m no longer anticipating Evans to fall off the desk totally after observing only one sport, it’s been transparent for a while now that Evans isn’t the similar participant that he as soon as was once, and don’t give me that, “Oh, neatly Brady likes to unfold the ball round. That’s why.” That’s true, however Evans’s goal percentage were declining for years prior and between 2019 and 2020, Evans most effective noticed a discount in goal percentage through 1.3 p.c.
It was once obtrusive to somebody that watched final night time that Gronkowski, Godwin, and Brown had been all most popular objectives for Brady over Evans. Certain, perhaps the Cowboys made a targeted effort to restrict Evans’s affect at the sport, however that is the Cowboys’ secondary we’re speaking about. The Cowboys’ secondary isn’t excellent. Even supposing Trevon Diggs or Anthony Brown was once instructed to shadow Evans all night time, neither of them are shutdown corners that are meant to silence anyone as achieved as Evans.
I nonetheless consider Evans is likely one of the maximum gifted receivers within the league, and his measurement and ball abilities make him an out of this world risk within the crimson zone. Then again, he’s no longer the similar man he as soon as was once who had an issue for the most efficient receiver within the league. Whilst I don’t need to make an excessive amount of of an assumption in line with one sport, the proof displays that it’s time a brand new receiver takes over that No.1 slot. Will it’s Godwin? Will it’s Brown? I don’t know, however it’s without a doubt no longer Mike Evans. His ancient streak results in 2021.