The Buccaneers may need to make a difficult decision about their punter.
Punters and kickers are rarely glamorous players in the NFL, but it stands out when they aren’t playing at a high level. Special teams matter (teams like the Buccaneers should know this well) and struggling in this stage of the game is inexcusable for a team that is looking to make a deep playoff run.
The kicking has been much better for the Bucs under Ryan Succop, but the punting this season has not. Bradley Pinion has not looked great in recent weeks for Tampa, and it may be time for the Bucs to start looking for a replacement.
It’s never easy to talk about making a change at this point of the year; many fans would say that you need to stick with your guys and hope for a turnaround, but others may think that a change is the only way to fix the problem.
The Browns are clearly in the second group.
While punters are never the focal points of teams and are rarely recognizable players, Jamie Gillan was emerging as a popular player. “The Scottish Hammer” is a heck of a way to build a brand, but none of it matters when your play suffers.
Gillan was only averaging 43.9 yards per punt (39.5 net average), good for 32nd in the NFL, and the Browns made the right decision of moving on.
If 32nd in the NFL in average yards is unacceptable for the Browns, why are the Bucs content with Pinion’s standing at 35th overall with an average of 42.4 yards per punt (38.5 net average)?
Pinion hasn’t been able to flip the field like he did last season, his kickoff skills almost gave a touchdown to the Colts in an obvious touchback scenario, and Tampa has no more excuses.
The Buccaneers need to expect more from their players, even those who don’t spend much time on the field. Pinion has given a lot to this team and it may be hard to advocate for moving on, but punters looking for a job are a dime a dozen, and the Buccaneers need to at least start looking to see what else they can find.
Want to write about the Buccaneers? Apply below!