All-32: What Mike Evans Means for Buccaneers
Welcome to All-32, a game-by-game preview of every matchup on the NFL slate each week. The goal is to provide a look at the most critical part of each game with a marriage of data and film study. As the season rolls along, the focus will narrow in on the specifics, but for this week, many of the featured players and units are big-picture projections for the teams in question.
Kansas City Chiefs at Tampa Bay Buccaneers—Sunday, 8:20 p.m.
Key Player/Unit: TB WR Mike Evans
The Buccaneers passing attack was pathetic without Mike Evans in the lineup last week. A number of other players were missing as well, including Julio Jones and Chris Godwin, but Evans is still the star in Tampa Bay's receiver room. He needs to be out there for the Bucs passing offense to function in any capacity.
Without Evans as a field-stretcher and ball-winner, Tom Brady was noticeably less aggressive. Brady had been conservative and quick to throw in the first two weeks, too, but last week's game against the Packers was particularly depressing to watch. Nate Tice of The Athletic mentioned on his Sunday night show that the Packers game was Brady's lowest single-game average depth of target since becoming a Buccaneer. That's not a winning model for any quarterback, not even the ever-flexible Brady.
Since Evans only missed the Packers game due to a suspension following a scrap against the Saints, he will be back this week. The others, namely Jones and Godwin, have been limited participants in practice and may or may not be ready for game day. While it would be nice to have the other two ready to go, getting Evans back into the fold to provide Brady some sort of insurance at all levels of the field should make the Buccaneers passing offense watchable again.