The Tampa Bay Buccaneers finished the 2016-2017 season an improved 9-7, 2nd in NFC South fighting depth and injury issues along the way. Offseason playmaker acquisitions were a must. The running game was inconsistent at best. 1,616 yards between 10 ball carriers with running back Doug Martin injured for the majority of the season.
Quarterback James Winston’s favorite target Mike Evans caught 96 balls, targeted 175 times for 1321 receiving yards and 12 of the Bucs 29 receiving touchdowns. Evans, who was in much need of some help…another offensive target to relieve the double teams, received an early Christmas gift mid March in the form of three time Pro Bowler DeSean Jackson. Jackson who seemed frustrated at times with the offensive play calling in Washington, now partners with the Bucs leading receiver Mike Evans. “It is rare to find a player in free agency with the combination of speed and natural playmaking ability of a DeSean Jackson,” said Buccaneers general manager Jason Licht in a release announcing the deal.
During day what of Bucs Training Camp the focus was on the relationship Jackson and Evans had developed during the off season months. Such a compliment to each other’s game, the on the field communication and relation looks positive and genuine. Big smiles when not involved in specific drills, play concept talks/teaching moments during individual periods and lots of high-fives all around. At this point, egos seem to be locked away in the locker room and some what of a “professional friendship” if you will, has emerged.
Buccaneer fans have long waited for the homerun hitter, defense stretching, speedster…which will open up all kinds of play options for the Dirk Koetter offense. DeSean Jackson leads the NFL with 21 50-yard touchdown receptions since entering the league in 2008. Has lead the league the last two years in yards per catch. 1,005 yards last year. Bucs fans are hoping Jackson can push the safeties, take the roof off the defense and stretch the field. Pair that with Mike Evans on the outside, both players compliment each other so well.
TAKE HOME QUOTES
HEAD COACH DIRK KOETTER
(On the passing attack with DeSean Jackson in the mix)
“Yeah, I mean, DeSean made three or four plays today when he ran a simple hook route. You could see DeSean flash. The guy is a vet. He’s been a playmaker in this league. We are just a long way away from that, but we brought him here to be a playmaker and you saw it today.”
QUARTERBACK JAMEIS WINSTON
(On if he and Evans can become best combination in the league)
“I felt that we already were, you know. But, we have to continue to get better. If we haven’t achieved something, obviously we want to achieve more together and that will open up other opportunities for other guys. One thing about Mike is he is a very selfless individual. So, if he gets five touches and gets his touchdowns, he’s ok if [wide receiver] Adam Humphries has eight touches for 115 yards and we won the game because that’s what it’s all about. Teamwork makes the dream work.”