Hunting For A Return ManJuly 29th, 2014
Historically, the Bucs have been just miserable in returning kickoffs for a score. When was the last time you heard of a team going 31 years without a touchdown on a kick return?
That was the case with the Bucs. The franchise went 31 years (and damned near 32) without a kickoff return for a touchdown. The drought was finally snapped when “Run Michael run” Spurlock broke through with a 90-yard return for a score at home against Atlanta, Dec. 16, 2007.
To date, the Bucs have taken just four kickoffs to the end zone, and Spurlock has half of those. The last return for a touchdown was when then-rookie Sammie Stroughter burned the Chiefs in 2009.
In a borderline desperate attempt to get points off of a kick return, ESPN’s Pat Yasinskas notes the Bucs are trying out just about anyone on the roster to solve this franchise plague.
Speaking of kickoff returns, it looked like the Bucs were auditioning half their roster Monday. When the Bucs worked on that area, eight different players took turns lining up as return men. In addition to Demps, Eric Page, Chris Owusu, Charles Sims, Solomon Patton, Skye Dawson, Robert Herron and Lavelle Hawkins took turns returning kicks. Page held the job last year, but the Bucs clearly are looking at all alternatives.
Joe is confident that Bucs coach Lovie Smith would love to have Jeff Demps return kicks. Demps has made two of the highlight plays of training camp thus far with his Olympic speed. But there is a problem: Demps is still having ball security issues. For every splash play he has made in camp, he puts the ball on the ground a couple of times.
If Lovie trusted Demps as a return man, then he wouldn’t be trying out half the team as a kick return guy. On kickoff returns, if you cannot hang on to the ball, you are all but giving teams — at best — an easy field goal shot.
Even Joe knows giving away easy points often leads to losses in close games, especially against good teams.