“It’s Not What You Do In Practice”

August 3rd, 2019

Clarity has finally come to the Buccaneers’ 3 1/2-month old kicker battle.

Following the eighth training camp practice tonight, the man who will make that eventual kicker decision opened up on the evaluation process.

Bucco Bruce Arians was asked if one kicker, drafted rookie Matt Gay or Cairo Santos, was ahead of the other. Gay drilled a 62-yard field goal earlier in the evening, but that’s not going to move the needle for the head coach.

“No. It’s all about games. You know, it’s not what you do in practice,” Arians said of evaluating kickers. “It’s what you do in games. Heinz Field’s going to be one heck of a place to test [Gay]. He obviously has the distance. You know, he missed the extra point because he got lazy with it. And Cairo [Santos] had a heck of a day yesterday. Inside, he hit a 54 [yarder]. So it’s been a good battle.”

Overall, the kicking has been strong from both contenders through camp. But Arians has the right mindset. Practice kicks are about as valuable as Kenny Bell receptions, Ronald Jones runs in shorts, and a Ryan Smith pass breakup against Bobo Wilson.

The preseason isn’t the regular season (the Bucs play the Steelers at Heinz Field on Friday). But it’s the best gauge of what these kickers can do.

12 Responses to ““It’s Not What You Do In Practice””

  1. firethecannons Says:

    62 yards–wow would that not be awesome–a kicker who can be relied on from 60 yds–Eagles have that

  2. JimmyJack Says:

    Pretty cool insight and I like the mentality. Kicking is all about pressure and things like road games and hostile environments can’t defiently ramp up pressure.

    A lot of folks have been wondering how Bruce will do the kicks on Friday. After reading this quote I now expect to see Gay get the first kick for that game. Immediately if Gay misses that kick he will start getting 2nd guessed. We all know it and so does he………Gonna be real tough to script a more pressure kick then that first one in preseason………Only wierd thing is that kicks are not supposed to be that exciting. It’s unique to Tampa Bay.

    GO BUCS!!!!!

  3. Stanglassman Says:

    Steelers kicker Boswell and camp competition walk on central FL kicker Matthew Wright are kicking this weekend at Hines at a Steelers family fest. They be practicing rushed run on kicks with no timeouts.
    Since Heinz Field opened in 2001, the winds coming off the nearby Allegheny River and a traditionally worn playing surface, especially this late in the season, has wreaked havoc on kickers. The longest kick ever made at the stadium is 53 yards.[[

  4. Pryda...Sec147 Says:

    Gay needs more practice I have no doubt by sep 8th he will be ready! He has a powerful leg 🏌🏻‍♂️

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    I thought that just about everyone expected kicker to be Matt Gay’s job to lose, he with the ‘big leg’ and Cairo Santos with the ‘weak leg’. Funny thing happened on the way to the forum it seems: someone forgot to tell Cairo that he has a weak leg. He’s been kicking very well in training camp it seems. All 5’8″ and 160 lbs of him.

    Santos in his 5-year career is 149 XP made of 155 XP attempted (96.1%) … and he’s only missed 1 XP in the past 2 years. He’s 104 FGs made of 125 FGs attempted (83.2%) … and inside of 40 yds he’s very good (missed NONE in the past 2 years & only missed 3 before that for a 93.0% rate). From 40-49 yds he hasn’t been nearly as accurate … 26 FGs made of 35 FGs attempted (74.3%), which isn’t terrible but not great either. But at 50 yds plus, he’s only 50% (7 FGs made of 14 FGs attempted) … that’s I guess where the ‘weak leg’ supposedly plays in.

    For his part, Matt Gay’s is 0 FGs made of 0 FGs attempted. He’s kicking with confidence … in practice. But so is Cairo Santos … in practice. Let the games begin. COMPETITION is a beautiful thing. (BTW, still wouldn’t be all that surprised to see the Bucs keep TWO kickers to open the season, then release one when (and IF) Ryan Smith finishes his 4-game suspension).

  6. Stanglassman Says:

    D.R.- The Bucs believe by adding a punter to do kickoffs it will eliminate Cairo’s drop off in percentage 40+. In other words his leg was getting fatigued kicking off and thus eliminating some of those misses 40 yards and beyond. I think either way they should be good. We just can’t have Matt have a great preseason then slump.
    I walked in one year and was a invite the next kicking at FSU. Only to be winning the job both years but destroying by groin doing kickoffs toward the end. Torn year one pulled the next. So I definitely understand where Cairo’s coming from.

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I doubt we keep two kickers because our punter will do kickoffs……we will probably use the extra roster spot for a DB/PT player until Smith returns (if)

    As far as the winner of the kicking contest…..a tie should and will go to the draft pick with the stronger leg.

  8. Stanglassman Says:

    Nobody thinks we’d keep two kickers. Not even on the practice quad. I was just saying if Cairo wins the job he may kicker better from further away than he has in the past because he won’t be required to kick off anymore.

  9. BucDan Says:

    Funny how this coaching staff has Santos kicking from 45+ daily and he’s making them, but Koetter and company wouldn’t let Cairo sniff the field for anything greater than 45.

    And speaking on kicking in games, I’ll say it again: Santos hasn’t made a 50 yarder during a game in more than four years.

  10. Magadude Says:

    I talked to Matt Gay after practice. He was in a particularly good mood, for good reason. I told me how “solid your kicking looked out there tonight.” He said smiling “Did you like that? Man, it felt great out there tonight.” I then said “You could have easily made it at 65 yards..why did they stop you at 62?” He just looked at me and smiled with a confident look like he knows he would have done it.

    These kicks, moved progressively back from short yardage, were all with pressure. This was not pregame warmup style.

    Not saying he doesn’t need more practice, but this is a long way from his first days in OTAs. The Bucs have found their kicker.

  11. Magadude Says:

    @DR, I think Santos was serviceable for us last year but looks like he has to put everything he has on it from 50 yards. His kicks looked forced with pretty errant flight, especially from farther out, which clearly makes accuracy suffer. They look a lot like Patrick Murray’s kicks. He has no where near the leg strength of Gay, whose kicks have solid and true backward tumble no matter the distance. We do know however, Santos has actually kicked in the NFL. Friday night’s game forward will tell all.

  12. Defense Rules Says:

    Magadude … I’m expecting Matt Gay to ultimately win the competition too. But I still remember a kicker that Licht brought for the 2015 season (go Lovie) named … Kyle Brindza. Notre Dame kicker for 4 years … 98% XP and a whopping 70.4% FG percentage. Brindza was 6’1″ & 236 lbs with a strong leg. Brindza replace Patrick Murray who’d hit on 100% of his XP and 83.3% of his FGs in 2014.

    Brindza lasted all of FOUR games as a Buc to start the 2015 season. No attempts in first game against Titans. 5 attempted FGs in next game against Saints, made 4 of them. In next game against Texans, attempted 4 FGs … made 1 FG. Then in next game against Panthers, Brindza attempted 3 FGs … made 1. Four games … 12 FGs attempted, made 6 of them for a 50% success rate. Result? Bye Bye Brindza, never to be heard from again.

    Replaced by Connor Barth, all 5’11’ & 193 lbs of him (82% remainder of 2015 season) who was subsequently replaced by Roberto Aguayo, somewhat bigger at 6′ & 207 lbs. Roberto wasn’t bad inside of 40 yds (90%) but outside 40 yds he was BAD (4-for-11). Replaced by an even bigger Nick Folk … 6’2″ & 211 lbs. Folk lasted all of 4 games himself, kicking a whopping 54.5% in those 4 games. Replaced for the remainder of the 2017 season by diminutive Patrick Murray (5’7″ & 182 lbs) who kicked a decent 82.6% that year. Licht replaced Murray to with Chandler Catanzaro (6’3″ & 200 lbs) who kicked 73.3% in his first (and last) 9 games as a Buc (whopping 73.3% FGs made). In comes diminutive Cairo Santos (5’8″ & 160 lbs) to kick a whopping 75% last year.

    See a common thread yet? The thread’s name is ‘JASON LICHT doesn’t know kickers’. Hopefully BA picked Matt Gay. Also seems that bigger isn’t always better (when it comes to kickers at least).