The chemistry has begun. So far, the Tampa Bay Bucs like what they see from Jameis Winston and wide receiver Mike Evans.
The two connected five times for 99 yards and a touchdown Sunday afternoon in a 31-24 victory over Atlanta.
For Evans, much of the battle has been to control his emotions on the field.
“Mike has really worked hard on that, all through training camp,” said coach Dirk Koetter. “Even the ball early in the game that Jameis overthrew him in the end zone in that first drive, Mike wasn’t demonstrative in any way, he hustled back to the huddle. Mike’s worked on it, it definitely showed up and I think it’ll pay off for him.”
For Winston, the NFC Player of the Week, part of the battle is standing upright.
“I don’t chart the ratio,” Koetter said. “I think it’s easy for us to say at the end, ‘He got hit too much’ or ‘He didn’t get hit very much.’ But when you’re playing the game, you’re playing the game to win and I could tell Jameis to go out there and take a knee and that wouldn’t matter what I tell him. Jameis is going to do what he thinks he needs to do to win; that’s just how he plays.
“Not all quarterbacks are like that. He did take a couple shots, but as we said the other day, he stood in there and delivered a couple excellent throws in the pocket too, and the great ones do that.”
Offensive coordinator Todd Monken was proud Winston wasn’t sacked.
“If you can keep him upright, I think there’s a number of pictures on there where you can see — and we talked about it earlier, a fast start and a quarterback’s accuracy,” Monken said. “Our O-line did a great job, our backs did a great job of chipping in protection, so that’s a big part of having success throwing the ball and throwing it downfield.”
Monken said the Bucs were trying to get the ball to Evans.
“We are always trying to find ways to get it to our playmakers,” Monken said. “He happens to be one of them. He wasn’t frustrated at all at halftime. I had actually talked to him about it and he was great. I thought Coach (Koetter) did a great job at halftime (saying), ‘How are the ways we can get it to Mike?’ And sometimes coverage dictates if you can and you can’t. We got in a two-minute situation and there were a lot of check-downs. I thought Coach did a great job of finding ways to get it to Mike and calling it.”
Monken said Evans’ degree of difficulty was high on his touchdown catch.
“That’s very difficult,” Monken said. “And indoors and someone on your shoulder and then actually, the most difficult thing was how did he hold on to it with one hand? His ball security was terrible. How he did that, that was probably more difficult than anything. But Mike’s capable of that and it’s just a matter of doing it.”
Now the two have to go against one of the league’s best secondaries in the Cardinals.