In one very specific way, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers were awful on special teams in 2016: field goals and extra points. The Bucs, also known as Roberto Aguayo in this specific case, were the single worst team in the NFL in terms of kicking accuracy. Oops.
Other than that, though, the Bucs did remarkably well. They didn’t lead the NFL in any category, and they were also the worst team at kickoff return average (though not in average starting position), but Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News reckons the Bucs ranked 12th in special teams play after going over all the different categories.
That’s a little better than where Football Outsiders ranked them, as they think the Bucs had the 21st-ranked special teams unit. Mostly that’s because field goal accuracy weighs more heavily in their model than in Gosselin’s, who has so many moving parts that individual kickers don’t impact the special teams model much.
The Bucs can get close to the top of the special teams rankings pretty easily now: retain Russell Shepard and possibly Josh Robinson, two core special teams player, get Roberto Aguayo to kick better (or replace him altogether), and find a returner who can actually produce.
That last part has been an issue for years and years. Ever since Micheal Spurlock, the man with the most easily misspelled first name in the NFL, left the team in 2011. Before that, Clifton Smith was their only reliably productive return man. And prior to 2007, the Bucs hadn’t ever had a kickoff return touchdown. Remember that statistic?
Time to change that. But that’s easier said than done, as the Bucs keep proving every year.