In 2015, the NFL implemented a rule that would only make things worse for the fans in Tampa Bay. Extra point kicks were moved back to the 15-yard line instead of from two yards away. For a team already struggling to score, the NFL brass decided to make things a tad tougher. After a quick look in to the past, we are going to look at the present kicking situation in Tampa.
Since 2009, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hold an embarrassing 67% field goal success rate. Year after year there were camp battles for the starting kicker job, seemingly with no end in sight. It is now 2019, and the Bucs are still in the dark about their kicking situation. The team made some moves to attempt to fix what is always broken and yet again, fans will have to sweat out every kicking attempt for points.
When did it all go wrong?
In 2008, the Buccaneers had a field goal percentage of 83.1% and an extra point percentage of 98.4%. Could you imagine? When was the last time Buccaneers fans were able to enjoy a touchdown long enough before dealing with the anxiety that was to follow with the point after? Yes, all players are human and these things are always bound to happen at some point, but when is enough, enough? Since this long, forgotten season of 2008, Tampa Bay has endured nine different kickers and a success rate of 67% in field goals. Many people considered extra points to be automatic and before the rule change of 2015, they were.
After the rule was implemented, it was a complete nightmare. A meager 89% success rate for the past 5 seasons has turned many fans’ hair bleach white. Despite them being only an additional point per attempt, they change the flow of the game instantly.
Glimmers of hope
Things were not always depressing for the Buccaneers’ kicking game. A few players brought a ray of light. They were definitely few and far between but they gave the fans a nice reprieve from the cardiac arrests every time Tampa Bay lined up to kick.
Patrick Murray and Connor Barth were the only two kickers in the past decade to hold the job for longer than a full season. This is likely a result from their successes between the uprights.
Courtesy of http://www.pro-football-reference.com:
One missed extra point for each kicker over the span of their careers in Tampa Bay. As sad as it sounds out loud, an 83% field goal success rate is not that bad all things considered. Buccaneer fans should be so lucky now. Since the exit of Barth and Murray, the team has blessed fans with the following:
Not a pretty picture. All disasters known here, I do feel like I need to defend the train of thought Jason Licht had when selecting Aguayo in the 2017 NFL Draft. Two seasons removed from the inaugural rule change for kickers, the Buccaneers chose drastic action to remedy a very bad kicking situation. How drastic you ask? Trading up in to the 2nd round to draft kicker (yes kicker), Roberto Aguayo, out of Florida State. Aguayo is the most accurate kicker in NCAA history, and Licht did not want to mess around anymore. He wanted to end the curse.
Hindsight is 20/20, but I understand the reasoning as to why Licht made this move. The problem is that the sec/nd round was way too early and there were plenty of holes to be addressed before kicker. In addition, most kickers go undrafted for a reason. The amount of pressure being put on Aguayo, being a second round pick, must have felt like a mountain on his shoulders. Good learning lesson for the league and most importantly, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Next mule in the stable
Cairo Santos only spent a fraction of the 2018 season with the Bucs, but the team recently granted a one-year extension to his contract. This deal makes him the current leader for the Buccaneers kicking job heading into camp. Since his arrival, he has posted 9/12 (75%) for field goals but is accurate with extra points as indicated by the 100% success rate. Santos will get his chance next season. Let us just say the bar is currently low for him.
Quick shout out to the punting unit as well. Bryan Anger, who was recently a re”boot” of Tom Tupa for fans with his strong leg and ability to drop the coffin corner with ease. He is now on the look for his next job as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers cleared the cap-heavy punter this off-season. He also saw his game decline since 2016 a bit and the Bucs could not afford to wait for a comeback this season.
Going into 2019, Licht brings in Bradley Pinion to take over the duties of punter. His numbers are comparable to Anger’s, but at $1 million dollars less a season – solid move.
What to expect
What else can you expect from the most volatile position in the game? Nothing. If Cairo Santos really is the guy, he is going to need to do better at field goals. Being better than bad will not cut it.
Also, keep in mind that competition is likely coming in training camp. Oh, and that kicker we sorely miss from the 2008 season? His name is Matt Bryant and is currently looking for a job…