From everyone the exciting moments in the Bucs’ 3o-24 victory over the Panthers on Sunday, the kick game on field goals and extra points was certainly not one of them. Kicker Ryan Succop was 1 of 3 on field goal attempts, missing from 53 yards and getting a punt blocked on a short 26-year-old. He also missed one of his two extra point attempts, the first miss he has had all season.
Succop is still an accurate kicker from within 49 yards or closer. He made 10-of-11 field goals from 20-29 yards out, went 7-of-8 from 30-39 yards and he is a perfect 11-of-11 on field goals between 40-49 yards. It’s anything from 50 yards that has given him problems.
Succop is only 2-of-7 from over 50 yards on the season, which lowers his overall punting percentage to 81.1%. Take his field goals out of that range and his percentage goes all the way up to 93.3%.
There is no questioning his accuracy due to yardage or extra points shortfalls. The Bucs should have a lot of faith in him in that regard. In the long haul, it’s been a whole different story, and we’ve all seen it in recent weeks.
As the Bucs lost 35-7 to the 49ers, Succop missed from 55 yards out. Two weeks ago against the Bengals, he was no good from 50 yards. And then a chance for a 53-yard field goal early in the game, Succop missed from there as well.
In a league where kickers regularly hit 57-yard field goals, which would be good from 60, Succop doesn’t come close. Everyone knows he’s better up close, and yet the Bucs have continually challenged him for these long shots that aren’t the best fit for him.
Is it 36-year-old Succop to blame for his failure to succeed in a place we all know is a weakness, or is it Todd Bowles’s fault for putting him in that position? Bowles seemed more unhappy with the blocked 26-yard field goal than with his missed from further out.
“The block is more concerning because it was a low ball,” said Bowles. “Obviously we need to get some height on that. That is more worrying. The longer kicks, the 35 [yard line], depending on down and distance, he usually makes it. He made them all in pregame, he just missed them in game.
Bucs work out a kicker
Whether or not the Bucs are happy with Succop behind the scenes, they’ve at least looked at other options. Tampa Bay brought in a number of players for a tryout on Tuesday. They were defensive tackle CJ Brewer, linebackers TJ Brunson and Khalan Tolson, and kicker Jake Verity.
A sophomore player, Verity was an undrafted free agent from East Carolina who signed with the Ravens and was on their practice squad. He was released from Baltimore after tearing his ACL in December. He also had a brief stint with the Colts in this year’s training camp and was claimed during this season’s Jaguars training camp. Verity was put on injured reserve in late August and released a week later in September.
It doesn’t sound like there’s any legitimate threat to Succop’s role on this team. This would be an extremely risky decision that would draw other criticism to replace him with a kicker who has yet to kick in an NFL game with the playoffs coming up. Succop has been solid all year, only struggling in one specific area.
Another kicking decision comes into question for Bucs
There was a kick that Succop did make in the game that has also been questioned, but it has nothing to do with his fault. Late in the second quarter, inside linebacker Devin White recovered a fumble on a failed snap by the Panthers at their 17-yard line and took it another four yards, putting the Bucs immediately in scoring position.
Tampa Bay threw an incomplete pass on third-and-one from the Panthers’ 4-yard line, opting to kick a 22-yard field goal instead of going for it on fourth. Many wanted the Bucs to go for it since it was only one yard, a field goal would give them four points instead of a tie, and Tampa Bay also had previous success finishing in fourth place in their final home game against the Bengals. .
The Bucs also went for it in fourth later in the game, making the early decision even more questionable.
“Yeah, a lot of thought[was]put into it,” Bowles said of the decision to go for it. “There’s a lot of thinking going on.”
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