Lions' upcoming opponent also expected to be without top receiving threat
Allen Park — The Detroit Lions announced wide receiver Marvin Jones is done for the season Tuesday. The team's Sunday opponent can commiserate. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers already have said they don't expect to have top target Mike Evans this week, and he too might be lost to the season with a hamstring strain, according to numerous reports.
Evans has been having another monster year for Tampa Bay. The former first-round pick ranks third in the NFL with 1,157 yards, marking the sixth consecutive year to start his career he's topped the 1,000-yard mark. Additionally, his 17.3 yards per reception ranked sixth and his eight touchdowns were fourth.
But like the Lions with Kenny Golladay, the Buccaneers have a second, equally productive receiver on the roster. Third-year pro Chris Godwin has continued his rapid ascension among the league's elite in coach Bruce Arians' offense.
Godwin's 1,212 yards and nine touchdowns both rank second in the league, just ahead of Evans.
"He’s an excellent, excellent receiver and he lines up in various places," Lions defensive coordinator Paul Pasqualoni said. "He’s in the slot, true, but he’s an outside receiver, as well. He’s the kind of guy that is a go-to-guy. He’s a kind of guy where you have to know where he is. You really do have to know where he’s lined up and you have to be aware of his location on each snap."
Even without Evans, the Buccaneers' offense remained explosive in Sunday's victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Evans exited the contest late in the first quarter, after his 61-yard touchdown put Tampa Bay up, 14-10. Over the final three quarters, the team still managed to throw for 326 yards, including three touchdowns to receiving options not named Godwin.
Former first-round pick Breshad Perriman, son of former Lions great Brett Perriman, had one of the better days of his snake-bitten career, catching three passes for 70 yards and a touchdown, while 2018 fifth-round pick Justin Watson caught five balls for 59 yards and a score.
Even without Evans, the Buccaneers' offensive attack, orchestrated by Arians, is relentless.
"I think he just really understands the players that he has and how to put them in great positions to make plays," Lions coach Matt Patricia said. "He’s going to pressure you downfield, he’s going to get the ball vertical, he’s going to put a lot of stress on the DBs and the back end to have to deal with those long pass plays that get down there, along with mixing in the shorter routes and the run game to try to control everything in the intermediate and short zones.
"He just plays a very complementary game on offense," Patricia continued. "He fits the personnel he has to the scheme, and I think they’re an explosive, fast-paced offense that they can score very quickly and they’re very dangerous."
Through 13 games, Tampa Bay ranks third in total offense, third in scoring and second in passing yards. The Lions counter with one of the league's worst defenses, a unit that's allowing nearly 400 yards and 26 points per game.