Battle Of The Return Man

August 28th, 2021

Last chance to win returner gig?

Could tonight decide who will be returning kicks and punts for the Bucs?

In Joe’s mind, the Bucs are down to Jaelon Darden as a return man — if he can just give the Bucs a reason to choose him — or last year’s return man Jaydon Mickens.

On punt returns Mickens stunk. He averaged 6.2 yards. That’s weak sauce. His longest was 14 yards.

However, Mickens was pretty good at kickoffs where he averaged 24 yards a return. To put that in perspective, as a team, the Jets led the NFL in kickoff return average with 23 yards.

For some reason, BSPN does not have Mickens’ kick return stats factored in from last year’s kick return average numbers. Of Mickens’ average of 24.3 yards, Mickens would have been eighth in the league.

It seems from what Super Bowl-winning coach Bucco Bruce Arians said earlier this week, if Darden wants to be the kickoff return man, he has to take it away from Mickens.

“I know what [Jaydon Mickens] can do,” Arians said. “I’ve seen ‘Mick’ for a while now. I want to see a little bit more out of Scotty [Miller] having a chance.”

Darden thus far on returns reminds Joe of Peter Warrick in the NFL. In college, Warrick was breathtaking. In the NFL? All of those juke moves and bubble screen routes that allowed Warrick to get a step or two on defenders haven’t worked against linebackers and corners as quick as he is.

Darden last week looked just like that: If he took a looping angle for a return at North Texas, he generally outran everyone.

In the NFL? Dudes can hang with you in a footrace, Jaelon.

24 Responses to “Battle Of The Return Man”

  1. Colonel Angus Says:

    You meant Darden, not Mickens in that last paragraph Joe. He needs to learn to make 1 cut and get up field, just wiggle them hips man. You didn’t see Brian Mitchell run around Scooby Doo style, catch the ball and go forward.

  2. Hodad Says:

    Be a returner you have to have guts. Who’s got the guts to run straight a head into a gang of guys looking to kill you?

  3. Brandon Says:

    Colonel… B Mitch didn’t outrun anyone to the edge. He ran straight and got his 220+ lbs to full speed and dared tacklers to take him down.

  4. Medicated Pete Says:

    @ Colonel Angus

    “Scooby Doo style” lololololol 😂

  5. Bird Says:

    I think they go w extra receiver – so mick and darden make team
    Sorry but darden is not ready to be return guy
    But he makes team. They like him to much. Young kid that is very talented
    Mick is decent

    And so they keep 3 tight emds. Stash on guy on practice to come in case of injury

  6. Bucs&Bolts Says:

    Sad day we still can’t have that threat to take one back to the house ! I remember a few preseasons ago Adam humphries returned one back that was super cool to see

  7. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’m not sure we will keep both of these guys……my sense is that Mickens will end up on the PS……Darden would probably be scooped up off the PS because he is a rookie with a high ceiling…..

  8. TOM Says:

    Neither Darden or Mickens has shown me anything.

  9. SB~LV Says:

    One cut !…put your foot in the ground and get up field

  10. Winny Testaverde Says:

    Scotty Miller has a unique set of skills like Brian Mills from Taken. He just might get killed as a returner, however. As Hodaddy says…it takes real guts. I remember Dexter Jackson 2. Oh No going into a give up slide on returns. It would be great if Darden could win the job via performance vs default.

  11. Swampbuc Says:

    Mick got better on punts later in the season. I’d bet if you looked at his average during the 8 game win streak, it would look pretty good.

  12. Beeej Says:

    What % of kickoffs GET returned?

  13. Dewey Selmon Says:

    At this point with having Brady as QB just fair catch the ball and don’t give up a possession.

  14. Infomeplease Says:

    Darden has great potential as a return guy and receiver. So far we haven’t seen anything!! Hopefully this changes soon!! Go Bucs!!

  15. Scotty in Fat Antonio Says:

    Again, what makes anyone think Darden can be a good return man. I’m still waiting to see punt return highlights. Heck, Winfield Jr. has better punt returns. I’m beginning to think Darden might be the second coming of “The Bad” Dexter Jackson.

  16. BucBrady Says:

    PW didn’t do well in the NFL because of injuries not because his juke moves didn’t “work in the NFL.”

  17. BerrickDrooks Says:

    He does have good moves but he just doesn’t seem like a natural returner.

  18. Joe Says:

    PW didn’t do well in the NFL because of injuries not because his juke moves didn’t “work in the NFL.”

    Do remember watching two games of his (not counting clips) — one live in-person. He tried the exact same moves he flourished with at Florida State. Difference was, he got buried in his footsteps in the NFL.

  19. Joe Says:

    He does have good moves but he just doesn’t seem like a natural returner.

    Can’t go there yet. Only been two make-believe games. Just think Darden is learning the NFL. Bucs clearly saw something in him otherwise they wouldn’t be giving him this opportunity.

  20. Jason Says:

    I don’t know who said it, but “pick a hole and dip!” Is the best advice I’ve ever heard for a returner.

  21. PassingThru Says:

    The dying need on special teams is blocking and coverage, not the return man. They are freaking bad at coverage, leaving big lanes open. That’s what really needs to be addressed.

  22. Joe Says:

    Thanks Colonel.

  23. JimmyJack Says:

    I thought Darden had a good return on his first punt last week. Made the 1st tackler miss and got anout 15. Of, course it was called back on pentalty so didnt count…..But the return was still good.

    But then he fumbled on his 2nd return. That is alarming. Hes might need to make up for that tonight with some productive yardage to win the job.

    Im looking more to see Darden on punts rather then kickoffs just because those usually go for big plays more frequently.

    But I think Darden makes the team either way. Go back to the Cincy game and he was making plays as a reciever and making guys miss. When you see a player making guys miss its usually just a matter of time until they catch a defense and make a huge play……Joe sounds like you are knocking Darden for that play last week where he danced away from a 1st down. It was ugly but seems like a coachable moment to me. I dont think Darden only has moves they wont work in the NFL because we seen him make guys miss already. Just gotta learn what does and doesnt work……And probably learn some situational awareness, like last week of when to put your head down and dive forward to move the sticks.

  24. JimmyJack Says:

    Oops sorry. Thought i was making a quick point…..Started rambling.