Wide receiver Mike Evans snagged a team-record 12 touchdown catches as a rookie in 2014, then saw that total drop to just three in his sophomore season. The lag in TDs was one of the reasons that Evans's 2015 was viewed by some as a "disappointment," despite the fact that he actually improved on his reception, yardage and yards per catch marks in his second go-around.
A behind-the-scenes look at the Buccaneers' game against the Cardinals.
Two weeks into Evans's third season, it looks like his scoring touch has been restored. He's already just one shy of his 2015 touchdown total, with 14 games to play. On Sunday in Arizona, Evans scored the Bucs' only points with an impressive 19-yard catch that required him to adjust at the last minute and spin to the outside to make the grab over his outside shoulder. Evans also scored in the Bucs' Week One win at Atlanta, making him the first Buccaneer since Mike Williams in 2012 to catch touchdown passes in each of the season's first two games.
In fact, Williams and Evans are the only two wideouts in team history to accomplish that feat, with the former also doing it in his rookie season of 2010. There have been five such season-opening streaks for the Buccaneers, the other two recorded by tight ends. As for where Evans might be headed after that hot start, Williams' final totals in 2010 and 2012 are hopefully more instructive than what tight ends Jerry Bell and Kellen Winslow managed in 1985 and 2009, respectively.
Buccaneers with TD Receptions in Each of First Two Games
Through two seasons and two weeks, Evans has played in 32 regular season games and recorded a total of 17 touchdowns. He's already tied for 18th in team history in total touchdowns and tied for ninth in scoring receptions, and he is the 29th player in Buc annals to surpass 100 career points.
Only one player in team history has reached 17 touchdown receptions faster than Evans, and no one who started his career as a Buccaneer got there faster.
Fastest to 17 TD Receptions, Buccaneers
It's obviously a little early to be projecting full-season totals with much confidence, but Evans has 169 yards through two games. If he were to maintain that pace, he would finish with 1,352 yards, which would be the third-highest total in team history behind Mark Carrier's 1,422 in 1989 and Vincent Jackson's 1,384 in 2012. If Evans simply surpasses 1,000 receiving yards, he will tie the franchise record for most 1,000-yard seasons, as Jackson and Joey Galloway each have three. (Obviously, Jackson could take the record back with his own 1,000-yard seasons in 2016.)
Also, if Evans can get to four digits again in 2016, he will become just the fourth player since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger to open his career with three straight 1,000-yard receiving seasons. The three to have done it already are San Diego's John Jefferson (1978-80), Minnesota's Randy Moss (1998-2000) and Cincinnati's A.J. Green (2011-13). The New York Giants' Odell Beckham could also accomplish that feat in 2016.
On Sunday in Arizona, Evans shared the Bucs' receptions lead with second-year wide receiver Adam Humphries. Humphries tied his career single-game high for catches with six (also at St. Louis, 12/17/15) and set a new personal-best for receiving yards with 67 (previously 60 in the same St. Louis contest).In addition, Humphries handled Tampa Bay's punt return duties on the day, bringing back five kicks for a total of 43 yards, with a long return of 25.
Humphries' six catches included a 24-yarder in the third quarter that helped fuel the team's lone touchdown drive. Coupled with his best runback, that made Humphries the first Buccaneer with both a catch of 20+ yards and a punt return of 20+ yards in the same game in almost a decade. The last Tampa Bay player to accomplish that feat was Ike Hilliard on opening day of the 2007 season, at Seattle on September 9. Hilliard had both a 28-yard reception and a 20-yard punt return.