Buccaneers head coach Dirk Koetter addressed the media on Monday to recap the 2017 season and look ahead to 2018, which will be a critical year for the embattled Koetter, who is coming off a disappointing 5-11 campaign in his second year at the helm in Tampa Bay. PewterReport.com’s Bucs beat writers were on hand to cover the press conference and ask questions.
Now it’s time to dissect Dirk, breaking down exactly what Koetter said in his press conference and ultimately went he meant when addressing the future of the Bucs in this week-long series of PR Analysis.
Koetter discussing if Pat Murray is the answer at kicker for the Bucs:
“Pat did a nice job on field goals under 50 yards,” Koetter said. “He made his kicks under 50 yards. He had a good percentage. Pat, his strength is not his kickoffs. We have teams in this league kicking it 80 percent touchbacks and if you just look at what a kickoff return really is, if you just took a touchback every time and took the ball to the 25-yard line, you are going to be in the top 10, just taking it to the 25. Part of kicking it to the end zone if you can kick it to the end zone is hang time and that’s one thing Pat struggled with is hang time on his kickoffs.”
Murray, whose contract expires in March, doesn’t have a strong enough leg to automatically be considered Tampa Bay’s kicker in 2018. The guess here is that he gets re-signed to a one-year deal because he was far more accurate than the Bucs’ last two kickers, Nick Folk and Roberto Aguayo, and he will compete for the kicking duties next season.
Murray connected on 19-of-23 field goals (82.6 percent), but struggled on long kicks. He was a perfect 13-of-13 on field goals inside 40 yards, and 4-of-5 inside 50 yards. But Murray was just 2-of-5 from 50 yards or longer, and the two kicks he made from that distance were each from 50 yards. Koetter also noted Murray’s inability to drive the ball into the end zone on kickoffs, which is a legitimate gripe.
Murray also missed his first extra point of the season on Sunday, and it nearly proved to be costly as the Bucs trailed 24-23 late in the fourth quarter before Winston’s game-winning touchdown pass with just seconds remaining. Tampa Bay will bring in a kicker to challenge Murray in training camp – one with a stronger leg. Murray needs to spend the offseason developing his length strength for kickoffs and longer field goals while honing his accuracy to put him in the best position to fend off a challenger for the kicking duties in 2018.
“I need to be perfect, and that’s the way that I think,” Murray said. “Now I have an entire offseason to get better, and I look forward to next year.”
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org