The Bucs’ Woeful Return Game

January 4th, 2012

The eighth-best kick retuner in the NFL in 2010 (with 10 or more attempts), “Run, Micheal, Run” Spurlock, was the invisible kick returner for the Bucs in 2011.

That was a season-long mystery to Joe. Spurlock didn’t get any kick return action in the first few preseason games and seemingly was never given a chance to keep his job.

Sammie Stroughter got the gig and was injured on his first kick return of the season, an impressive 78-yarder against Detroit. Preston Parker split returns the rest of the season with Stroughter. Parker finished ranked 35th in the NFL in yards per return (10 or more attempts). Stroughter was 14th.

Spurlock, a young veteran that repeatedly earned praise for his professionalism by Raheem Morris, rode the bench.

Parker also was one of the worst punt returners in the NFL this season, leading the league in fumbles on punt returns with six, especially glaring since the Bucs’ heinous defense hardly forced a lot of punts. Parker ranked 23rd in yards per return among those with 10 or more opportunities. Parker only had three punt returns of 20 yards or more and never “broke” one.

To be fair, Spurlock was an ineffective punt returner for the Bucs in 2010. While he only had one fumble, he didn’t break one either and only had two returns of 20 yards or more. Spurlock was tied for 35th in 2010 in yards per return among guys with 10 or more opportunities.

If fans are to go along with Raheem Morris and his staff’s assessment that Spurlock is nothing more than a backup returner now, then the Bucs could use serious upgrades at both those returner positions next year.

Joe suspects any new head coach will want fresh blood at the position. As effective as Parker was a receiver this season, Joe would suspect he’ll have trouble landing on the Bucs roster in 2012, assuming a new coach wants to upgrade the receiving corps and the return game.

15 Responses to “The Bucs’ Woeful Return Game”

  1. Travis Says:

    Our return game is a testament to how little speed we have on the team.

  2. Dave Says:

    Never could figure out why Spurlock was kept if they weren’t going to use him as a return guy. parker may be quicker, but I don’t think he is any faster.

    I agree with TRAVIS though, it is a statement on the lack of overall speed when they don’t have 4th & 5th WRs and DBs with enough speed to break a return

  3. Hawaiian Buc Says:

    Very good point Travis. In the Falcons game, Parker had a good 5 yards ahead on the defense on his big catch, and he couldn’t break away. We have zero team speed on offense. I believe that should be our #1 priority on offense this offseason.

    Everytime I saw Parker back to return kicks, I would always complain. I never got it. I would hope he would down it for a touchback, because if he didn’t, there was a good chance something bad would happen. At least with Spurlock, we’ve seen him do something positive.

  4. Meh Says:

    We are really, really slow. Sooner or later we have to address that.

  5. Travis Says:

    Kendall Wright (WR Baylor) SHOULD be available in the 2nd round if we decide to go LB/CB in rnd 1 and dont take Blackmon.
    Wright has blazing 4.3 speed and would be a great downfield threat and possible return man.

  6. passthebuc Says:

    it would be prudent for the top brass to consider a special teams guru for head coach. someone that understands both sides of the ball.

  7. jvato24 Says:

    Joe .. Duhhhh .. Parker is Younger than Spurlock .. Therefore he was youngrier and got the GO ..

    Travis .. You talk about Kendall Wright .. Yes he is Fast .. But I always hear about needing a SPeed Back or SPeed WR … thats not neccesarily the case

    Every Year at the combine some guy will run a ridiculous time and maybe make it through 1 training camp before its all said and done.

    THe word this team needs is EXPLOSION. Explosive Players with extra gears and Burst turn out to be the difference makers. And Kendall Wright has this Big time to go with his Speed.

  8. Big Picture Guy Says:

    That’s what happens when you lose a ST coordinator who had the unit performing in the top 10 in special teams for the last decade, in Rich Bissaccia (AKA Duemig’s pick for the next bucs HC)

  9. Leighroy Says:

    That’s what happens when you lose your special teams coordinator who had this unit performing in the top-10 for the last decade in Rich Bisaccia (AKA Duemig’s pick for next bucs HC)

  10. passthebuc Says:

    Whomever is hired will make 40% of the fans happy, 40% pf the fans pissed and 20% of the fans apathetic.

  11. McBuc Says:

    JVato24…You are right on the spot. “Explosive” is what we need. We have had plenty of speed in the past, (see Dexter jackson, Q Green, etc) that did not do much here in Tampa. UI like Blackmon the best, but Wright would be pretty exciting as well.

  12. jvato24 Says:

    I also cant imagine Wright making it to the 2nd round … He is too good

    I think Wright and Blackmon and maybe Jeffrey will be the 3 1st RD WRs and Wright may even go in the teens once he measures out. Just a guess though

  13. ac3 Says:

    Some may not like it…but Desean…

  14. thibs5599 Says:

    explosiveness is definitely what we need. Joe Adams in the later rounds, he is the best punt returner coming out of college, he can play Wr and Rb as well. Not a full time RB but on gimmick plays here and there and some pitches. Did anyone see his 90 plus yard TD against Auburn out of the backfield, kid has speed, explosiveness, and agility.

  15. Oahubuc Says:

    The sans-Spurlock kick returns were one of those futile, weekly, obviously not working things that had me absolutely snatching my friggin hair out all season- well, 3/4 of the season- after the first Carolina game I just stared for a half and changed the channel. You would think by, oh say week 8 they would have figured it out. God I’m glad these people are gone. Not that Spurlock will be on the roster.