How good can Winston-to-Evans be for Bucs?

by Gary Shelton on August 1, 2016 · 1 comment

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Will Winston be rated among the top half of NFL quarterbacks this year?

Will Winston be rated among the top half of NFL quarterbacks this year?/TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Monday, 6 a.m.

As players, you still measure them more with potential than production.

You squint and look toward the horizon, and you can see Jameis Winston taking off. You saw enough in his rookie season to believe. The arm. The legs. The competitive spirit. His interceptions don't scare you. His inaccuracy doesn't measure him. You have seen Winston, and you believe better days are coming.

But no, Winston is not there yet.

Likewise, you can still look at Mike Evans as a positive. Yes, he dropped too many passes, and he committed too many penalties. He still doesn't get enough

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Evans needs to catch more balls for more touchdowns./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Evans needs to catch more balls for more touchdowns./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

clean separation to satisfy you. But in two years, he has still caught 142 passes for 2,257 yards. He'll get it, you think. He's too strong a competitor not to.

Ah, but as a duo, they are not there yet. Yes, they talk a good game and, with Doug Martin and a young offensive line,  they can come close to convincing you that they will be special.

Evans carries the ball for the Bucs./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Evans carries the ball for the Bucs./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

But are they? Yet?

I read Pro Football Focus on Sunday, and it had Winston ranked as the NFL's 17th best quarterback. Nationally, that seems to be the neighborhood he's in. Evans? He fluctuates. Athlon has him ranked 15th. But Bleacher Report, stupidly, has him ranked only 56th. In a league with only 64 starting wide receivers, that's absurdly low. (Many of those ranked ahead of him didn't have 1.000 yards.) Another website, TopTenFinishes.com, has him ranked 31st.

In other words, Winston and Evans have some persuading to do.

Now would be a good time to start.

Oh, let's be honest. The NFL is filled with Batman-and-Robin duos. There is Ben Roethlisterger and Antonio Brown.There is Eli Manning and Odell Beckham. There is Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski.

There are combos led by the quarterbacks, like Blake Bortles (and Allen Robinson), Cam Newton (and Kelvin Benjamin) and Aaron Rogers (and Jordy Nelson). And there are quarterbacks led by the receivers: Julio Jones (who has Matt Ryan), Amari Cooper (who has Derek Carr) and Dez Bryant (who has Tony Romo).

There are combos where both ends represented greatness. Joe Montana to Jerry Rice. Peyton Manning to Marvin Harrison. Johnny Unitas to Raymond Berry.

This much seems clear. If the Bucs are going to get a lot better, they'll do it a lot of damage through the air.

“To me he’s been a great player since college, and then he came in and he showed why he was the number one pick,” Evans said of Winston. “He keeps improving, like you say, his deep ball is getting better. He’s in better shape. I’m excited to see what we can do together.”

 Where can the two get better?

“On third down,” Evans said. “We were good on third down, but we could’ve been better. With the drops, fumbles, just things like that. Just limit the turnovers and bigger plays down the field; I think that we can be one of the best offenses in the league.”

 Winston takes a broader approach to their improvement.

“The best thing is the second year being in this offense,” Winston said. “I say it all the time and I’m going to continue to say it, (quarterback) Mike Glennon [has] been a quarterback in the league for five, six years and he said this is the first year that he had the same offense coming back. So, that’s a big stride for us. That’s a big advantage for us, for our team. So we just have to get better, deal, and like I said, we will never be where we want to be.”

Rookie Vernon Hargreaves looks to make his presence felt./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

Rookie Vernon Hargreaves looks to make his presence felt./TRAVIS PENDERGRASS

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Larry Beller August 1, 2016 at 10:25 am

This duo has to be better in order for the Bucs to improve this year. Both players need to be better at the long game or we will be seeing the offense settling for field goals all too often rather than scoring touchdowns just as they did last year. You can’t win games that way consistently. Other than the maddening number of drops Evans also has to be more disciplined to not commit offensive pass interference so often. If he can turn those problem areas around it will show he is committed to improving as a football player and ready to go to the next level of being a force in this league. If we see the same old bad habits from him then we will know he doesn’t have what it takes to be elite.

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