I'm sure you all know by now that I'm not exactly a Lee Evans fan. He's been invisible for the last four years and the excuses as to why he's been absent, have been well documented. Now, Evans has an injury that looks to have cost him the season. To me, this may be the biggest subplot remaining for the Bills this season. The plot thickens as to whether or not Evans is an important cog to the offense. Fans of Evans will say that Stevie Johnson and Roscoe Parrish's emergence are due in large part to Evans taking on constant double teams. You don't have to be a football historian to understand that if you are doubling a wide receiver, it's going to open up the passing lanes for others.
Overall, the Bills wideouts have been impressive this year, especially considering how young they are. I think everyone would agree that the wide receivers seemed to be the weakest link on offense entering this season. Excluding Evans, the Bills wideouts had 5 catches combined in 2009. Again, it's surprising to see the production out of this unknown receiving core.
We all know about Stevie Johnson's precise route running (Even though he's struggled over the last 3 weeks), the size of David Nelson and the speed of Donald Jones. Yes, they aren't the Patriots wide receiving core, but from what they came from and with expectations being so low for them, you have to be happy with them. The Bills have had five different wide receivers catch a touchdown pass this season (Evans, Johnson, Parrish, Jones, Nelson), which is the most since 1996. If Johnson gets to a 1,000 yards, he'll be only the 3rd wide receiver drafted in the 7th round to accomplish that over the last 10 years.
Of course, everything isn't all sunshine and rainbows with the crew. There is a dark cloud and it seems to be covering Lee Evans (Like most corners do). With Evans out of the line-up, we are going to see how big of an impact his pressence has been on the team. The Bills have their work cutout going against the Dolphins, Patriots and Jets. Miami and New York are ranked in the top 5 in total defense and we all know that Belichick always seems to be a better coach the 2nd time around when he faces the Bills.
With Evans out, you can only assume that defenses are going to double Stevie Johnson and let the other rookie wide receivers beat them. If there's one thing the Bills are going to miss, it's Evans ability to stretch the field and have defenses respect the long ball. Johnson and Nelson are more inclined to be possession receivers. Of course, having the faster CJ Spiller lined up as a wide receiver would make defenses take notice. However, we all know that Spiller hasn't done much in the passing game this season.
Bottom line: If the Bills wide receivers don't miss a beat, and Johnson bounces back from his last three weeks of semi-production, then we can lose the excuse about Evans opening up the passing game for other wide outs. Frankly, he'll be out of any excuses and could be termed as expendable. However, if the Bills passing game struggles down the stretch, then you'll get a semi-apology from me to Lee Evans. Then again, he still has to do better than what we have seen over the last four years.