Todd Bowles Has Three Wishes

September 28th, 2022

Jaelon Darden

It’s early, but Jaelon Darden ranks 12th in the NFL in punt return average among guys who have returned four or more punts.

That’s damn respectable.

Still, it’s not special. And the Bucs with Rachaad White and Giovani Bernard have done nothing on kick returns. Thankfully, the dominant Bucs defense has prevented a lot of kickoffs.

Todd Bowles was asked on the Buccaneers Radio Network yesterday about things he wants to accomplish after watching his club for three games.

Bowles was quick to deliver his three wishes.

No more shooting themselves in the foot on offense, Bowles began, before demanding the defense start a game fast, which they have yet to do. And then Bowles went to fourth down. “We’d like to get some returns in the special teams department. That’ll help us win ballgames.”

The return game should be in the spotlight with a defense this good and a struggling offense.

What a jolt it would be if Darden could bust one.

33 Responses to “Todd Bowles Has Three Wishes”

  1. Smashsquatch Says:

    Just once I’d like to see Darden throw self preservation to the wind and hit the crease upfield. Despite the #12 ranking, he seeks the sideline way too much.

  2. Kdog Says:

    It seems he is getting better and better but wish it was at a quicker pace and he brought more to the receiver room. Hopefully he can turn that around as he does appear to have potential.

  3. Leighroy Says:

    Can we please either fair catch every kickoff or let it fall in the end zone and at least start drives at the 25?

  4. Bucsfan13 Says:

    We’re not talking enough about how Goedeke has been awful in run blocking and pass pro. He got absolutely manhandled by Clark and Gary. Hainsey has been a pleasant surprise, but Goedeke is a liability. I’m not gonna rag on Walton too much because he’s the third string tackle. Goedeke is the full-time starter, so his play is concerning. How long do we stick with him?

  5. NCBucfan Says:

    Why is raachad white not getting any return opportunities? I feel he would be better than Darden.

  6. Miller5252 Says:

    I never understand why teams don’t make special teams a top priority and put their best athletes back to return. That Chicago team that made the Super Bowl with Hester had no business ever being in the Super Bowl yet Hester strapped up his backpack and carried them dang near to a win! Keep swapping folks out until you find someone who can do it. Go pay a coach a bunch of money to make it dangerous.

  7. Joe Says:


    Why is raachad white not getting any return opportunities?

    He has.

  8. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    I’ll take the 25 on kickoffs every time……

    As far as Darden…..(and I do not want to jinx him) but he looks sure-handed on the punts….and that’s a good start.

    I don’t believe he is as bad as most think.

  9. jarrett Says:

    darden needs to be on the field as a WR or slot more. also why did we get rid of tyler johnson #18 ??? dude had a great play during our super bowl run ?

    i dont understand how tyler johnson didnt make this team?

  10. Nicholas Carlson Says:

    The Joes are pretty down on Darden, but he always seems to pick up 8 or 9 yards even when it doesn’t look like there is anything to be had. Dare I say he reminds me of “The Truth”

  11. Leighroy Says:

    Tyler Johnson doesn’t play special teams, and your 5-7th string WRs need to. Bowles addressed this directly after cut day.

    I’m fading Dardens stats based on what my eyes see and a small 3 game sample size. Yes I’m a skeptic. Return yards don’t capture letting punts fall and bounce negatively for 15 yards. And please don’t insult Karl Williams like that!

  12. Mort Says:

    Uh oh, you said a remotely positive thing about Darden. I’m worried about the commenters who regularly bash the dude like he stole their wallet and went home with their girl.

  13. Stu Says:

    The hell with Darden, put Beasley back there…

  14. DoooshLaRue Says:

    Did the NFL start counting yards running sideways?

  15. Panhandle Buc Says:

    Darden seems to hit the sidelines every time…I just don’t see anything special in his return ability. We have been cursed at ST return game for years!!

  16. Goatfarmer Says:

    DardOn had sucked, sucked, has sucked, sucks, will suck and will have sucked.

    Now – go out there and prove me wrong, #1. One catch and a 9 yard average on punt returns has your supporters out with the anointing oil. Don’t disappoint them and force me to eat crow. I’ll smoke that sumbiotch.

  17. PewterStiffArm Says:

    You need more illusive speed than what we have right now. Is it me or does it look like Darden has bricks for legs. The name Devin Thompkins comes to mind. Bowles should have elevated him instead of Gieger. Devin was catching everything in training camp, granted it is not the real thing but with our current offensive struggles what would we have to lose. Giovani won’t be back for another three weeks, try to get a spark somehow, Scotty isn’t doing it.

  18. Dooley Says:


    It’s year 2 for Darden, a little bit of progress is good, definitely doesn’t look as tepid fielding punts as he did last year and so far he’s made some smart fair catches with the cover team bearing down on him. Agreed with those who’ve stated they’d like to see a little more of him at WR. I wouldn’t mind either, I’d just rather wait until we get Jones & Godwin back to sneak Darden amongst our top guys and get him matched up with a LB/Safety.

  19. AbucAway Says:

    If Dardone finds paint other than a sideline this year, I’ll eat crow as well. Hell, I’ll bring the charcoal, Goatfarmer. But he just doesn’t run and look at the endzone as his goal. I wish the special teams coach told him that if he runs out of bounds on any return, he’ll get benched or worse. Force him to change his sights and he may be a diamond in the rough at least on returns.

  20. Listnfrmafar Says:

    If you have the #1 D, common sense says the opposing team punts more. Skewed stat. He is sure handed but he ain’t gonna take it to the house unless the house is the sideline. He runs scared.

  21. Wild Bill Says:

    Ha ha, he actually caught a pass, ran and did not fumble! A budding super star! Or not. Looks like puss to me.

  22. Goatfarmer Says:

    Hey Away – what kind of smoke do you prefer for crow? Normally for foul, I prefer a fruitwood such as applewood, but given the origin of crow, I’m thinking mesquite.

  23. Goatfarmer Says:

    Um, fowl.

  24. Hodad Says:

    He leaves to many return yards on the field by not hitting it up the gut at full speed. He runs scared, not with his hair on fire. He also lets to many balls hit the ground not willing to run up full tilt to make the fair catch. His running out of bounds speed is impressive I’ll give him that. Rather give Thompkins a shot as a returner, and a receiver. Seen enough of Darden, and Miller.

  25. Will Says:

    Make the 1st man miss and get your a$$ up the field. The kid is scared bottom line. Hell I don’t blame him but I don’t play pro football he does and that’s his job. Get it done or find a new return man.

  26. Goatfarmer Says:

    DardOn looks good in shorts, though.

  27. gotbbucs Says:

    He might accidentally get a 20 yard return at some point, but I can’t ever see him being a real threat. He’s not running to gain yards, he’s running for his life. As soon as he sees that sideline he runs up it until he knows he’s going to get hit and then he jumps out of bounds. He’s never looking to cut back into the field.
    I’m guessing he’s being coached to go to the narrow side of the field and get what he can, but the great return guys rarely go narrow field, they go middle or wide to try and find a seam.
    If Bowles wants certain things to happen on the football field, then he’s going to have to put players out there that are capable of more than what some of these guys are capable of doing. Bitching to the media without having the balls to make the necessary changes is worthless.

  28. Browsing from DC Says:

    Personally, I don’t mind seeing Darden head for the sidelines instead of finding a crease in the middle of the field. I don’t think he’d survive (with the ball still in his hands) a real collision. 7 or 8 yards and no fumbles works for me.

    That said, I think White could handle the punishment and is quick enough to break one. I know he’s laid the ball down a few times but it might be worth the risk if the opponent is punting from deep in their own territory and he’s around the 40 for the grab.

    Kick returns for tds seem to be a lost art these days.

  29. Will Says:

    With everything that’s been said here I’ll take it a step further. When our WRs are back put Beasley back to return punts he’s shifty and not scared as Darden appears to be. If Darden is being coached to hit the sidelines and get out of bounds that shows that coaches don’t trust him back there and that to me means he shouldn’t be back there.

  30. Jgar Says:

    Nothing would be more deflating for a defense than forcing a punt and then having the returner giving it back to the other team. Would be nice for the offense if they didn’t have to start inside the 5 though. Try blocking maybe? 😂

  31. westernbuc Says:

    Darden is earning snaps. If he’s turned the corner, then I’m happy to admit I was wrong.

  32. David Says:

    My guess is Darden has 3 more games to prove that he has some sort of value. I was all for giving him another chance but being average on punt returns is not worth a roster spot. With all the receivers down he was needed and has not done a thing

  33. Big Rob Says:

    Darden doesn’t have the speed to break one