How big of an impact has Tom Brady had on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this season?
Just ask his No. 1 receiver.
Bucs wideout Mike Evans raved about the 43-year-old quarterback Wednesday as Tampa Bay prepares to face the Green Bay Packers in its first NFC Championship Game since 2002.
“He’s the greatest player to ever play the game,” Evans told reporters in a video conference. “If you add him on any roster, I’m sure the outcome would be somewhat like this. He always gets teams to the playoffs. He’s a winner. He’s a natural-born winner, leader, all that.”
Evans, a career Buc, has surpassed 1,000 receiving yards in all seven of his NFL seasons, but never experienced postseason football until Brady’s arrival.
After failing for nine straight years to win double-digit games, Tampa Bay signed Brady away from the New England Patriots last offseason and promptly surged to an 11-5 record, ranking in the top 10 in the NFL in both points scored and points allowed.
Buoyed by a wildly talented stable of offensive weapons that features Evans, Chris Godwin, Antonio Brown, Rob Gronkowski, Cameron Brate, Ronald Jones and Leonard Fournette, Brady improved in nearly every statistical category, throwing for 16 more touchdowns (40) and nearly 600 more yards (4,633) than he did with the Patriots in 2019.
“At this point in his career, he’s just playing chess,” Evans said, “and we’re definitely very happy that he’s on our side.”
Evans’ 70 catches this season were a career low for the 2014 first-round draft pick, but his 13 touchdown receptions set a new career high and ranked fourth in the NFL.
Following road playoff victories over the Washington Football Team and New Orleans Saints, the Bucs now sit one win away from Super Bowl LV, which will be played at Tampa’s Raymond James Stadium.