Let me begin this piece by stating that I am in no way biased in favor of Tanner McEvoy. Not one bit. He is in my mind, as many would describe him, aight.
That being said, there is no doubt in my mind that the T-Train solidified his candidacy as a first ballot Hall-of-Famer after an absolutely elite rookie year. The 6’6” Swiss army knife from Pomona, New Jersey showed us yet again that unheralded players can make a significant difference.
Moving forward, the Seattle Seahawks have the most dominant receiving tandem in the league, comprising of undrafted free agents Doug Baldwin and McEvoy himself.
This is all besides the point.
I’m not here to reiterate my carefully crafted and expertly fact-checked analyses on McEvoy’s instantaneous legacy. No, I’m here to dive into the film.
Let’s take a look at the five most impressive plays of 2016 from the most talented Wisconsin Badger on the Seahawks*.
*Oh wow I’m going to take a ton of flak for this...
5. @ Kansas City Chiefs, 4th Quarter, 0:40
On his own 30-yard line with no timeouts, Trevone Boykin takes the snap out of the gun. McEvoy runs a 9 route straight up the field while Boykin quickly arcs the ball down the right sideline towards him. The defensive back in coverage is in great position to make a play on the ball, but the T-Train’s hands are too much to handle. He high-points the ball and retains control to the ground like the technician that he is.
“Mike, you can’t put a preseason reception in an article like this!”
Yes I can and yes I will. You know why? Because this was the beginning of the most transcendent highlight reel known to the human race. Had McEvoy not caught this ball, he would not have caught Trevone Boykin’s Hail Mary (that ended up winning Seattle the game, mind you) and he might have not made this roster.
Can you imagine if the T-Train was waived and signed by another NFC West team before proceeding to ravage the Legion of Boom with consistent 200-yard performances on a biannual basis?
I don’t want to either.
4. @ New York Jets, 2nd Quarter, 3:52
Russell Wilson receives the snap out of an I-formation and fakes the handoff before sensing immediate pressure from the right edge and stepping upwards in the pocket. He surveys the field and is amazed at what he sees - a receiver streaking past the secondary all alone.
Take a guess who that receiver was. That’s right. It was Tanner McEvoy.
While some might say this play was a coverage bust, I like to think that McEvoy had abruptly discovered his insane change of direction abilities. Yes, yes, he was tens of yards away from safety Calvin Pryor at the time. But whatever subtle move he laid on Pryor caused this to happen:
After receiving the ball, McEvoy quasi-high stepped into the end zone with the dramatic fervor of a colossal gazelle. Not too bad for a first career touchdown in the league, eh?
3. @ New Orleans Saints, 2nd Quarter, 10:27
McEvoy is stacked behind Jermaine Kearse on the left numbers before hopping backwards at the snap. Wilson tosses a lateral pass this way which is expertly received. Damn. Look at that poise.
C.J. Prosise is wide open down the opposite sideline to make the easy catch. The ball is slightly underthrown from McEvoy, but that’s an acceptable sacrifice to make when the weight of an entire franchise lays upon your shoulders, is it not?
Prosise, the second spunkiest rookie on the field for the Seahawks, is tackled inside the five, setting up a quick touchdown.
This was our first glimpse into the T-Train’s arrival as Seattle’s friendly neighborhood jack of all trades. A Tanner of all trades, if you will.
(Oh wow, that was bad. Really, really bad. I am sorry.)
2. @ Green Bay Packers, 4th Quarter, 8:27
It is never an enjoyable day when the Seahawks get blown out. This fanbase has been extremely lucky that it hadn’t experienced a game like this one for a period of about five years.
Down 31-3 in the 4th Quarter, Russell Wilson had a realization. After tossing a drove of interceptions, he finally understood what must be done: throw the ball to his most dynamic target.
That title obviously belongs to McEvoy. Obviously.
Tanner flies past his defender, heading for the left corner of the end zone. Wilson recognizes this and fires the football towards McEvoy and away from the arriving safety. Seattle’s most talented receiver high points the ball and drags his toes, securing the score and beginning a furious comeback bid by the Seahawks.
The surge fell short after the Packers scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive, but McEvoy’s claim to superstardom had been secured. Despite being at Lambeau Field, this was his house. This is his team.
1. @ Arizona Cardinals, 4th Quarter, 4:43
Yeah, you forgot about this, didn’t you? McEvoy almost single-handedly (no pun intended) gifted the Seahawks a field goal attempt to tie up this low-scoring affair. Seattle’s inability to move the ball on offense had spanned the entire contest and made it seem like a successful punt would virtually end the game in the Cardinals’ favor.
McEvoy scoffs at improbability.
Matching up a 5’8” Kerwynn Williams one-on-one with the 6’6” wrecking ball and destroyer of dreams dubbed Tanner McEvoy is never a good idea. Williams never has a chance.
McEvoy has previously played as a wide receiver, a tight end, a quarterback, and a safety. On this play, he shows that he also has all of the tools to be an elite NFL defensive end.
Williams, who basically equates to an offensive tackle on this play, slides to his left with impressive footwork. McEvoy immediately puts Williams on skates with the bull-rush of a pure technician. If you plugged in Tyron Smith there, I honestly don’t think the scenario would have played out any different. Nobody was slowing down the T-Train at this particular moment.
This blocked punt was legitimately the only reason that the Seahawks put any points on the board and turned the game from a defensive struggle into the most epic tie in NFL history.
While many of you may chuckle at McEvoy’s Hall of Fame candidacy, I beg you to simply watch the film. The talent is there. The drive is there. The simmering indifference of an all time great is there.
Coincidence? I think not.
In any case, McEvoy has established himself as an exciting X-Factor for Seattle’s offense heading into 2017.
Are you ready for the T-Train’s Demolition Tour? It begins in seven short months. Get hyped.
Note: I’ll be writing pieces like this throughout the offseason for Seahawks defenders and skill position players (maybe not quite as ridiculous as this one though). If you have a specific player you’d like me to hit next, let me know in the comments!