If the Bucs’ offense is to continue trending upward, one thing that will have to develop more is the chemistry between WR Mike Evans and QB Jameis Winston. The deep ball in particular was less than satisfactory last season, and the duo will work extensively in practice to improve that aspect of their relationship, as Evans’ touchdown production decreased from 12 total TDs in 2014 to just three in 2015, and Winston’s 2015 accuracy percentage of passes traveling over 20 yards in the air was a lackluster 41.8%, per Cian Fahey of Pre-Snap Reads.
“We’re more comfortable with each other,” Mike Evans said at training camp of his growing familiarity with Winston as a quarterback. “Everyone’s more comfortable with everyone now.”
Because of the immense potential that Winston and Evans have both flashed at times throughout their young NFL careers, Bucs fans should eagerly look forward to watching the pair play in 2016. To shed some light on the advantages both have at their positions, Winston’s sheer arm strength is in the upper echelon of the league, along with fellow cannon-armed quarterbacks like Jay Cutler and Matthew Stafford. This leaves his accuracy and timing as two of the things to be focused on sharpening the most in the offseason. Also, Evans’ desirable size for a receiver obviously grants him an advantage over short cornerbacks in going up and contesting for deep passes. One such example of Evans using his size advantage to benefit the team was in his rookie season, when he absolutely leveled then-Cincinnati Bengals corner Terence Newman on a block.
Given context of the special traits that each respective piece of the duo possesses, their connection could prove to be one of the most lethal in the league with time if it develops properly, akin to that of Dez Bryant and Tony Romo or Julio Jones and Matt Ryan.
While Mike Evans did an excellent job of creating separation between himself and defensive backs last season, the chemistry between himself and Winston was still somewhat underwhelming. Despite it being a work in progress, the connection will have to be honed further if it is to be considered one of the NFL’s most feared WR/QB duos. Thankfully, according to Evans, the growing leadership of Winston is one of the most important things helping their connection and the offense as a whole become more efficient.
“[Jameis’] second year going into the offense, you know it’s going to be great. I hope we do great things,” Evans said. “He’s just being more of a leader than ever, so that’s going to be great for us in the long run.”
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