Backups Better Play Special Teams

August 13th, 2021

How backups can make Bucs.

A few years ago, an NFL general manager enlightened Joe about roster-building.

Simply put, the GM told Joe that if a guy isn’t a starter, he better be able to play special teams if he wants job security. The same GM told Joe that a non-starter who couldn’t play special teams is basically an endangered species. If he does make the roster, he’s on thin ice.

Yesterday, Bucs Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians reinforced that philosophy. Arians suggested a backup that can play special teams will get preference over a backup that may be a better positional player but doesn’t play special teams.

“If you’re the fourth tight end and you’re a hell of a special teams player, that’s a great way to make the team,” Arians said. “If you’re the fourth running back, the sixth receiver, every position – if you show value on special teams, that’s huge. It’s not just linebackers, it’s every single position.

“And then once you get to 53 you’ve got to get down to 47 [on game days]. So if you have a valuable role on special teams, you’re a core player, you’re dressing on Sunday. You might not be the best receiver or the best DB, but if you’re a core special-teamer, you’ll dress and they won’t.”

This is something to keep in mind for a guy like receiver Tyler Johnson. Right now, Johnson is probably the No. 5 wide receiver. Arians loves how Johnson blocks and his ability as a talented young player.

But special teams? Johnson only played in 10 percent of the special teams in 14 games. That seems low for a backup.

By contrast, Justin Watson, who Johnson usurped on the depth chart last season, played in only 11 games but logged 38 percent of the snaps on special teams.

Joe’s not sure if Johnson’s price (inexpensive), blocking ability on run plays (bigger impact than many think) and production projections next year if the Bucs lose Antonio Brown and Chris Godwin will be enough to override a low percentage of special teams play.

14 Responses to “Backups Better Play Special Teams”

  1. Medicated Pete Says:

    Our special teams were the worst in NFL last season & made Pete start chugging pills

  2. Joe in Michigan Says:

    The Bucs won the Super Bowl. Stop blaming your addictions on the Bucs! 😂

  3. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Special teams are an important component to winning football games…..every roster spot counts….that’s why I’m opposed to carrying 4 QBs…..

  4. Tnoles Says:

    R.I.P Mark Cook, the Bucs family will miss you. Prayers for your family

  5. Medicated Pete Says:

    Special teams was the only thing Tom Brady had no control over & it was a DEBACLE. Bruce needs to actually do something & improve special teams

  6. Alexander Nascimento Says:

    Tyler Johnson is listed as #3 in Kick Return
    Is this relevant at all?

  7. geno711 Says:

    Lots of ways to win in the NFL. Not just one formula.

    My opinion on last years special teams.

    Bad return guys (but not a lot of turnovers).
    Slightly worse than average coverage.
    Average punter.
    Kickoff depth. Better than average.
    Very good kicker.

    Can we win again with the same formula?
    No doubt. I think the field goal kicker is the biggest key when evaluating special teams in this era.

  8. Redblud Says:

    This applies to Scotty more than Johnson. He already can only do one thing on offense, is a terrible route runner and offers no value on special teams. I think that’s why he is getting return reps. I honestly don’t see his value to this roster.

  9. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Redblud: Did you watch the Green Bay playoff game? Evidently not.

  10. David Says:

    They need Johnson and others to step up on coverage!!
    The return game should get a big boost with the rookie back there.

  11. JimmyJack Says:

    Redblud I dont think we get to the SuperBowl without Scotty Millers play. You dont see his value? Senseless. 500 yards of offense is not too shabby for a #4 reciever.

    I do agree he is a one trick pony. When that one trick is to flip the script with game changing plays its very valuable.

  12. JimmyJack Says:

    When i looked at the Bucs depth chart the biggest thing i noticed is that McMickens is listed as our punt returner. I am hoping Darden can force his way into that top spot.

    I think i heard Joe Burrow isnt playing for the Bengals tomorrow night. Sounds like we should have a lot of opportunities fielding punts.

  13. Stonedbuc Says:

    Man some of y’all have nonsense of humor! Pass me some pills Pete! 😂

  14. allbuccedup Says:

    Four QBs doesn’t make sense you got Brady, Gabbert, Griffin and Trask. If Trask shows anything in preseason Griffin should go to the practice squad. If you put Trask on the practice squad someone will pick him up. Then thats a second round pick lost. Griffin will be safe there.