The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been a historically bad team on the return front since the team’s inception, and that needs to change in 2021.
The Buccaneers are known for many strengths in the current NFL, but success on kick and punt returns is one of the last aspects that someone would name. In fact, other than a few key players like Micheal Spurlock and Karl Williams, the Bucs would be even worse than they are already, and that is saying something.
Williams and Spurlock make the numbers look much better than they actually are, but fans who have watched for the past decade know just how bad Tampa has been on this front.
Teams get fewer chances to return the ball on kickoffs in the modern NFL, as kickers are much better than they used to be, gunners are quicker and more athletic on punt coverage, and the Bucs have dealt with these changes by using sub-par return men.
With the recent changes to kicking and the way that special teams units throw everything at shutting down huge returns, the NFL has slowed down substantially in this aspect, but the Buccaneers still feel like they are well behind the curve.
After going over a decade without a return touchdown of any kind, the Bucs need a change in 2021, but will it actually come?
As it stands, the Bucs don’t make a resounding case for any major improvements on this front. Jaydon Mickens is one of the better recent return men if he remains on the team, but there is still little to indicate that “the big one” is coming.
There are also some question marks regarding Mickens’ ability to remain on the team with so many receivers to fill out the depth chart, and even then, the other options will face an uphill battle as well.
Jaelon Darden is a new name that is starting to garner some attention at this position after a brief college stint alongside other names like Scotty Miller, who could use his speed well in either return role.
Regardless of who, the Buccaneers need someone to step up this season to bring a massive special teams drought to a close. Return touchdowns aren’t everything on a team that already has a great offense, bu the momentum that they bring has the potential to singlehandedly change any game, and the Bucs need this threat again.
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