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July 31, 2011 @ 1:05 pm
Current rating: 3.33 Stars/3 Votes

Aside From Punting, Koenen Will Aid Bucs With Kickoffs

Written by Mark
Mark Cook


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The Bucs added an extra dimension to their special teams with the addition of Falcons free agent punter/kickoff specialist Michael Koenen. The team hopes to eliminate its punting woes of the past two years and also help out the defense by limiting field position on kickoffs.
When the Buccaneers coaches and management reviewed last season’s special teams play, one stat stood out more than anything. That was exactly one touchback by Tampa Bay kicker Connor Barth on kickoffs during the 2010 season.

With the signing of former Atlanta Falcons punter/kickoff specialist Michael Koenen, the team feels like two positions have been upgraded dramatically. And based on Koenen’s statistics [40.7-yard average, with 29 punts inside the 20, 23 touchbacks on kickoffs in 2010] the last few years, the Bucs are virtually guaranteed better production.
Tampa Bay is happy to have an upgrade on special teams, and according to Koenen, the feeling is mutual.

“The first time I spoke to the special teams coordinator and the head coach they said, 'I’m excited to have you here,'” said Koenen. “That really meant a lot to me. When you come to a place where you feel welcome it means a whole lot more than just the money, so I’m real excited.”

The Buccaneers feel they upgraded two positions by signing Koenen as the team struggled to find consistency also at the punting position last year. The team drafted Virginia Tech punter Brent Bowden in the sixth round of the 2010 draft, but he was released in the preseason. The Bucs ended the season with undrafted free agent Robert Malone, but knew they were looking to upgrade that position in the offseason. Koenen, who was given the franchise tag the past two seasons by the Falcons, became an unrestricted free agent and was signed early by the Buccaneers.

“Free agency period was definitely crazy. My agent called me and told me they were very interested and it was a good possibility,” said Koenen. “It sounded great, so we jumped on it and made it happen.

“We had been talking to Atlanta, also. There were a couple of other teams, but it was a good fit for us.”

Buccaneers general manager Mark Dominik spoke to members of the media Friday and commented on the addition of Koenen.

“I’ve always told you guys I’m a big believer in special teams in terms how players make this team early on and where they go,” Dominik said. “Specifically, punter and kicker are a big part of that. I think they control a lot of field position that a lot of fans that sometimes we take for granted. I thought it brought a lot of value to our football team to limit kickoff returns and also keep your team healthy in a way. Not only is he a really good punter, but he is a phenomenal kickoff guy and I think he is a big weapon in the National Football League. I look forward to him coming in here and showing that off.”
Last modified on Sunday, 31 July 2011 14:03

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  • avatar

    No whining!! Please rather than pontificate, explain how a cornerback like Nmandi, or a one year starter like PoZ would not help us now. Loose Talib next year and get one in the draft and we'll be better? I want to advance not OJT. Oh we'll be good in a few years, and mediocre now. I'm excited... The play-offs this year would be an improvement, and I don't see any play-offs in our future...I HOPE I"M WRONG I said, no problem with the Glazers other than I think they are overextended, and cash poor. They have assets for sure, just not cash!
  • avatar

    I sort of agree with both of you, they aren't bankrupt, but they haven't made progress on the debt amount yet. I think that they try not to spend cash because they want to keep the Bucs revenue and put it into the holding company Red Football. Part of it probably goes to service the huge debt load of L100 million per year from the L800 million ($1.5 billon dollar) loans for purchasing ManU. Their financings got somewhat worse over time as the rate on part of it increased from 14.25% to 16.25% because they couldn't pay off the bonds by the cutoff date. To solve this, they had a L500 million bond issue with 8.75% rate. This money from the bond sale is almost enough to pay off the highest interest cost debt, but they still are only making interest payments on all debt and not any principal. So it is not that they can't spend money on free agents if they wanted to, as much as they have other places they really need to put it, if there isn't a super reason to spend it. Unless the management is convinced they can get a young guy, not a troublemaker and at the right price, then they won't buy. I do predict that they will remain near the bottom of the league in spending for years to come, just as they have been for years already. It is really a liquidity, or cash flow issue, not the value of the assets..you can't spend non-liquid assets.
  • avatar

    Can we please stop the really old and inaccurate "Glazers are cheap and the Manchester United is bankrupting them" whining? These "billionaires" own the most valuable sports team in the world, an NFL team and have several other businesses in their portfolio. They have plenty of money and don't need to raise their debt ceiling to buy a free agent if they choose to. The team isn't signing a bunch of free agents.........because they don't want to. They've chosen a path that works well for a lot of successful teams. How many times do you see the Superbowl Champion Packers, their opponent the Steelers or the Colts making a headline for a big signing? No, you see Jerry Jones and Dan Spender throwing out cash and producing nothing. This year it's the Eagles making a run at it; but let's see what their effort brings before handing them a trophy. Soon all teams will be spending the same and this worn out complaint will have to be used on something else.
  • avatar

    Respectfully, do the math...we have put out no more money than we would have HAD to put out in any other salary cap year. Last year no cap so no minimum. Said another way other than PUNTER we have not upgraded a single offensive or defensive position. The money saved on rookie salaries went into signing our veterans. These rookies may be beasts in a few years and we will have to pay them then, but for right now we have made no improvements! Experience is an improvement, but still too many rookies and 2nd year players to be competitive in the NFC South. I'm just saying...
  • avatar

    Punters and kickers all over the league have been getting higher salaries the last few years, so I'm not that bothered by the money he's getting. He's probably a top-10 punter, and top-5 kickoff guy. Field position is huge in this league. Bullies, I would've liked to have seen a CB as well, but I really only wanted Joseph, and there are reports that the Bucs offered him a contract, he just decided to sign with the Texans. The front office has given out over $100mil in contracts in the last week, so it's obviously not a money thing. A couple years ago everyone flipped out when Dom cut Brooks and those guys, but look where we are now. Just keep trusting the FO, I think they've earned that so far.
  • avatar

    60 Million under the cap, and all we sign is a punter! I love the Bucs, but I think it is safe to say we have no money. They need us to fill the stadium and get the revenue checks to pay the salary cap floor by the end of the year. You cannot tell me any of the corners would not have been and ungrade! 8-8 at best, and maybe the play-offs in a few years. Thank you MAN U. At least they have our home game in the U.K.. That will pay the punters salary! Bet we're their every other year as long as the Glazers own the team for the revenue.
  • avatar

    He better put every single punt inside the 20 for how much were paying him!
  • avatar

    Um I thought moving kickoffs to the 35-yard line would have helped the Bucs enough.
  • avatar

    We'll that sounds alot better then just paying him 19.5 mil for punting alone!!
  • avatar

    Good pick up Dom, I remember this guy last year and he has some leg.
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