It’s no surprise that Mike Evans had a monster game against the New York Giants. Despite the Tampa Bay Buccaneers losing, Evans was a glimmer of hope for Buccaneers fans. After two weeks of not being involved as much as fans are used to seeing, Evans came around and made up for it big time. Last week he was matched up against the Giants’ cornerback Janoris Jenkins and took full advantage of it. But this week he faces a taller challenge: Pro Bowl cornerback Aqib Talib.
Multiple impressive seasons stacked up one on top of another, and now Talib finds himself being one of the most respected players in the NFL at his position. Fun fact: for those of you who didn’t know, Talib was drafted by the Buccaneers in the first round of the 2008 draft. Racking up 18 of his 35 career interception as a Buccaneer, it’s safe to say he is respected for a reason. If anything in this league proves value, it’s consistency; Talib has shown that at the very least.
What can we expect?
“Physical,” “nasty,” “dirty,” and “aggressive” are all words you can expect to describe the Evans vs. Talib matchup, as they are two of the best at what they do in the NFL. They fight it out play after play. In fact, the last time these two met was in 2016 when the Buccaneers were playing the Broncos. Talib won this matchup with not one, but two interceptions. Evans was held to 59 yards on five receptions. There are more factors to consider this time around, considering Talib is with a different unit but this may surely be a popcorn and soda kind of matchup.
What’s the game plan?
As with any good player in the NFL, there is really only so much you can do. Evans has a lot of talent, and truthfully it is a coin flip every time these two meet. Personally, I would look for the Buccaneers to take advantage of the matchup anytime Talib is playing 5-8 yards off. Talib is a physical cornerback; anytime he’s playing press coverage it’s going to be difficult to get separation. Slant routes, hitch routes, or even a drag route or two could be in Evans’ favor here, especially if offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich plans on moving him in and out of the slot. Regardless of who wins this match-up, one thing is for certain: This will be an absolute treat for any football fan come this Sunday.
Photo credit: buccaneers.com