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Film Review: Would Mike Evans fit in the NY Jets’ offense?

Mike Evans
Mike Evans

Examining Mike Evans’ potential fit in the New York Jets’ offense

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and wide receiver Mike Evans did not come to an agreement on a contract extension, which means that the highly coveted wideout is set to hit free agency.

The five-time Pro Bowler has recorded 1,000+ yards in every (!) season of his 10-year career. Evans is coming off his most productive season since 2018, finishing the 2023 regular season with 79 catches for 1,255 yards and 13 touchdowns. He followed it up with 11 catches for 195 yards and a touchdown in two playoff games. Evans remains one of the best wide receivers in the NFL, even at 30 years old.

While he is known for his size and contested catch ability, Evans is a highly underrated separator. In 2023, Evans ranked 13th out of 153 WRs in ESPN Analytics’ Open Rate, where, for reference, Garrett Wilson was ranked fifth.

Evans was lined up in the slot on almost 30% of his snaps, and since 2019, he has lined up in the slot on at least 27% of his snaps each year, showing his versatility.

At 30 years of age, the 2023 season was Evans’ best year when it comes to YAC, showing that he has yet to slow down physically. Evans averaged a career-high 4.2 YAC per reception.

Evans is your prototypical big-body receiver with an elite catch radius, which he uses to attack defenses down the field, outside the numbers, and across the middle of the field. Evans posted a 54.5% contested catch rate (18/33 catches converted), which was 13th out of 95 qualifying WRs. His total of 18 contested catches led the NFL.

The stats are impressive, but does the film back it up? And would he fit in the New York Jets’ offense? Let’s find out.

This is a good example of how insane Evans’ catch radius is. This is a simple bender-type route up the seam on a safety. The throw is behind him but he effortlessly snags it with one hand while absorbing a hit. Holding on to this ball is as impressive as the catch. A truly absurd rep from Evans.

When discussing a 30-year-old WR who is commanding a ton of money, many of the questions will be about their speed and athleticism. Do they still have legs left? This clip shows that and more as Evans burns a top-tier corner in A.J. Terrell for a long touchdown. His ability to get separation against elite CBs showed up all over his film. Evans is extremely intelligent with the way he runs routes, as he leans into Terrell deep on the route to get a ton of separation for the easy TD. Also, it is a great thing to see that he is still a deep ball threat, not just a threat to score in the red zone.

Baker Mayfield is hot here with a zero blitz coming, but he knows where he is going with the ball. Evans is running a skinny post with single coverage, and Baker simply throws the ball up and trusts Evans to make a play, which at his frame he easily does. These contested-type catches are not as easy as they look, but Evans consistently makes them look easy.

Very similar to the last clip, Evans runs a skinny post and finishes a contested catch in between two defenders while getting hit. It is an understatement to say that he has strong hands. Having a player like this that you can look at in the RZ in any given scenario is such a luxury for a team. It is even more of a luxury for a team that desperately needs it, which is the case with the Jets.

Lastly, it’s not all contested catches for Evans. Here he tracks the ball in the air while sliding down. Again, he does such a great job of separating from the DB late. The DB looks to be in great position for most of the route, but Evans flashes some late speed and elite ball tracking ability to make a strong hands catch here.

Picturing a 6-foot-5 WR with the route running, contested catch ability, and intelligence that Mike Evans has should make Jets fans drool. I can only imagine the efficiency the offense would have with the pairing of Evans and Garrett Wilson. In addition, signing Evans would allow the Jets to focus on their offensive line problems throughout the draft and for the rest of free agency.

I’m not thinking twice about it if I’m Joe Douglas. I’m throwing the bag and more to get Evans to play in New York for the next 2-3 years.  It is truly a no-brainer. Evans is easily the best FA WR that I have watched film on so far. Go get it done.

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