Dave Wannstedt Has Hands FullJune 24th, 2013
Joe found it a bit curious in the offseason that Bucs coach Greg Schiano would reach out to his buddy and former boss, Dave Wannstedt, to become the Bucs’ new special teams coach.
It isn’t that the hiring of Wannstedt surprised Joe, but it was the position he was assigned.
When Joe spoke with Schiano at the NFL Combine in frigid Indianapolis this winter, Joe asked if Wannstedt would perform other duties other than special teams coach. It seemed a waste to let a guy with his significant experience be stuck with special teams.
No, Schiano told Joe, special teams is critical and Wannstedt would have his hands full.
While looking at the Bucs’ special teams from last season, Jeff Briscoe of Yahoo! Sports pulled back the onion skins and found a woefully underachieving lot, including from guys signed to fat contracts.
Despite expectations, Koenen and Barth disappointingly posted average numbers in 2012, as Tampa Bay finished in the middle of the pack in the categories of punting distance, kickoff return average, and field goal conversion rate. With hefty contracts enjoyed by its kickers, fans rightfully expect better in these measurements.
However, Tampa Bay fared even worse on its own returns. Averaging only 20.3 yards per kickoff, the Bucs posted the NFL’s third smallest kickoff return average in 2012. The club’s punt returns were only slightly better, with a 9.0 average that ranked 19th of 32 teams. Even more discouraging, no touchdowns were produced by the return game and only one attempt exceeded 40 yards.
Briscoe also points to two special teams holes Wannstedt must fill. The first is Ronde Barber, who was a warrior on special teams. The second is a return game of some sort. Since “Run Micheal run” Spurlock left the Bucs, the team has not had a consistently decent return man.
In fact, the revolving door of unreliable return men on both kickoffs and punts pretty much must end if the team hopes to turn around its special teams fortunes.