Cover 3 is a weekly feature column written by PewterReport.com’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat writer Trevor Sikkema published every Tuesday. The column, as its name suggests, comes in three phases: a statistical observation, an in-depth film breakdown, and a “this or that” segment where the writer asks the reader to chose between two options.
Sikkema’s Stat of the Week
I wanted him to make that kick. I really did. I know we’re not suppose to root for things here and there as journalists, but for Chandler Catanzaro, I wanted him to make it.
And he did – good for him.
Why did I want him to make it? Because it has to suck reading tweets like the ones I sent out during the game after Catanzaro missed the PAT and after he missed the game-winner at the end of the fourth quarter. Catanzaro feels worse than anyone does when he lets his team down, and the way he got emotional after the game in the locker room was proof of that.
I wanted him to make it because stories of redemption and ones that give a happy ending are forever better to tell than ones of sorrow and disappointment. When that kick went in, I was happy for him. I’m sure it was a moment he’ll never forget, and I’m glad he got to experience it.
But did that kick, as exciting as it was, wipe away his sins of this season?
K Chandler Catanzaro – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
In 2018, Tampa Bay has made just eight field goals. That’s tied for 25th in the NFL. Now, they’ve only attempted 10, but that percentage of 80 is still tied for just 21st. Tampa Bay is 1-1 from beyond 50 yards with Catanzaro, the reason why he was brought in, but with extra points, the Bucs have missed three, and only one other team in the league has missed more, the Chargers with four.
There are 17 teams in the NFL that have yet to miss an extra point. If you throw Justin Tucker in there with the Ravens, who missed an extra point for the first time in his career on Sunday, that makes it 18. There are 25 total teams who have an extra point percentage of above 90 percent.
The Bucs aren’t one of them.
The Bucs also have the worst field goal percentage in the league of kicks between 40-49 yards — the sign of a good kicker. They are 0-2 in that category at zero percent, tied with two other teams, the Rams and the Titans.
So it seems like Catanzaro is having a sub-par year all around. But is this to be expected, or does his career show that’s not in his nature, and that he is worth keeping due to a bounce back on the way?
Here’s an analytical look at Catanzaro throughout his career (big s/o to Moo on Twitter for this).
The blue line is the expected probability of kickers in the NFL to make a field goal from a certain distance. Obviously, the longer the distance, the steeper the drop. The red dots are where Catanzaro’s career percentages fit on that line (above or below) at each yard variation.
For the most part, Catanzaro is above average at kicks shorter than 40 yards, which is good, and he’s also way above average on kicks attempted beyond 55 yards, which is crazy. But he’s struggled in the intermediate — where the kicking money is made.
Bucs K Chandler Catanzaro – Photo by: Mary Holt/PR
Catanzaro’s first two years in the league have been his best so far. With the Cardinals, in 2015 and 2016, he was 21-for-23 from between 30-39, and was 16-for-18 from between 40-49. Unfortunately the year after, he missed one from between 20-29, one from between 30-39, two from 40-49 and three from 50-plus.
That caused the Cardinals to move on, and with the Jets the next season Catanzaro was okay, but missed five from between 40-49 yards.
The range of 40-49 yards is the money distance. If you don’t have consistency there, teams will always look to replace you.
Catanzaro’s hot start has evened out now, which means his stats make him an average kicker in the league. That’s not as damning as it sounds, as average means he makes most of the kicks he’s suppose to. But he’s having a below average year for average standards, and that’s where the problem lies.
Catanzaro isn’t losing his job this week. That last kick saved him. But it shouldn’t save the team from bringing guys in for tryouts over the next two weeks.
Remember that Nick Folk struggled against the Giants last year, but made the game-winner at the end, only to miss more kicks against the Patriots the next week and finally get cut.
Missing from 50-plus is one thing. Missing from 40-49 yards is another. And missing three extra points in six weeks is down right unacceptable – missing an extra point changes the entire dynamic of a game, especially when missed early, and those misses cost the Bucs one game and should have cost them another.
Catanzaro is still their guy, for now, and I mean it when I say I hope he’s enjoying his walk off. That’s a cool feeling that doesn’t happen often in this game.
But I also hope it helps him focus and be better than he’s been so far this year.
Because so far what he’s been is not good enough.
The money he’s making isn’t translating to the money kicks.
Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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