It can be argued that the Buffalo offense has been stuck in a rut since the 2004 season, a year when the Bills put together a six-game winning streak down the stretch only to falter in the season finale and miss the playoffs. Lee Evans, a rookie that year, was a big part of that push for the playoffs contributing nine touchdowns including seven during that streak.
Since then however, the Bills offense has been unable to sustain any great measure of consistency. There is clearly a bounty of variables involved as to why the past six seasons have not seen Buffalo's attack rank any higher than 25th in the league along with a current ranking of 30th this season. Coordinator changes, system changes, offensive line changes and of course changes at quarterback.
Never has that been more apparent than this season. When Brian Brohm started this past Sunday in Atlanta it was the first time since 1969 that three different quarterbacks started games for the Bills. And Evans has caught passes from all of them.
"This year has been all over the place," said Evans. "At different times it's been another opportunity for somebody to step up and show what they've got. That's pretty much what we've been looking at, but we come out preparing to win no matter who is back there."
In Evans' six seasons he's played with seven different quarterbacks. Drew Bledsoe, J.P. Losman, Kelly Holcomb, Shane Matthews, Trent Edwards, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Brohm.
"It's been tough at times," admitted Evans. "Good sometimes, not so good some other times, but when you look at the big picture there has been a lot of rotation with different people back there."
All of that turnover has done little for continuity within the scope of the offense and more specifically for Evansproduction in the passing game. He's currently on pace to set career lows in receptions and receiving yards for a season as he has just 40 catches for 563 yards, though his six touchdowns are right on average.
Evans always has an opinion, but never complains. He remains professional and does what he can to make the situation, no matter how difficult, successful. The most recent example was spending extra time after practice this past week running routes and catching passes from Brohm, who had not thrown to Evans before last Wednesday.
"For me I just try to be as consistent as I can and be accountable and someone that can there for the quarterback to throw to and has the trust to throw the ball to. Regardless of who is back there and whatever happens, if he's back there I'll just try to put myself in a position to make plays. As an offense we need to get some rhythm and get clicking."
Unfortunately rhythm has been hard to come by, which makes one wonder just how much more productive Evans would be in an offense with an entrenched quarterback and coordinator. To say Evans has been underutilized would be an understatement.
The Bills tried to address that problem when they acquired Terrell Owens in free agency this past spring. But even Owens' talent could not make up for the changes at offensive coordinator, quarterback and most importantly the offensive line.
"I think in a lot of cases and a lot of instances we got exactly what we wanted to get or what we thought we were going to get in coverage," said Evans of how Owens changed defensive coverages. "There were plenty of opportunities out there we just weren't able to make the best of them."
Evans presses forward knowing his ability to change things on the field and off are limited. And as much as he plays for his own pride, he also makes sure he's giving his best for his teammates no matter what the circumstances.
"We have a tremendous group of guys who come in every day and work hard and play to win regardless of what we can or cannot do this season," he said. "Every game is an opportunity to win and guys have really put it on their shoulders to come in and work. It'd be nice to go out on a positive note."