The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have agreed to terms with veteran Kicker Ryan Succop, and he will compete with second-year Kicker Matt Gay. Gay has not had a great camp, and that simply will not do.
Bruce Arians made the statement during Sunday’s press conference via Zoom: “I’m looking for consistency on the ‘gimmes’. We can’t miss extra- points. We can’t give away easy points. Kicks inside the 30-yard line should be automatic. If you can make a 56-yard’er, that’s great. But, when we drive the ball down to the 10 and miss a field goal, there’s nothing that tears a team more apart on offense than, ‘Hey, we just took the ball down the field and we didn’t get any points.’ So, the ‘gimmes’ – who’s the most consistent? If you can do that and still kick 56, 57, now you’re All-Pro.” His statement surely means that he is fed up with the Buccaneers longstanding kicking woes, that he witnessed first-hand last season.
Bucs selected Matt Gay in the 5th round of the 2019 NFL draft – At least it wasn’t in the second round – and he showed promise during that year’s training camp. Promise, that turned into let down and a share in the blame for the loss to the Giants in week 3. Bucs fans are used to seeing terrible kickers. There are too many to name, but I am pretty sure that you already know who they are. Watching Gay miss kicks is not all that shocking. Gay finished the season a perfect 6 for 6 in the 20-29 range, but after that, he was not consistent at all. 5 of 7 from the 30-39, 5 of 15 in the 40-49, but was fairly impressive in the 50-59 range hitting 5 of 8 with a long of 58. On extra-points – you know, the gimmie range – Gay was less than impressive, hitting 43 of 48. He may have made more extra-points than field goals, but if you are missing extra-points, that is not good at all.
Elliot Fry is unproven in Pro Football but was damn near perfect on extra-points while kicking for the Gamecocks (2013-2016). As far as field goals were concerned, he was less than impressive. Gay only played two seasons in college for the Utah Utes, but looking at the statistics, you can see similarities between Fry and Gay. A trend certainty emerges. But stats are for losers, so they say, and lose Fry did.
Enter Mr. Irrelevant, Ryan Succop – pronounced: Suck-up. I am not going to say that Ryan Succop is our knight in shining armor; far from it. But what he is, is an 11-year veteran, who has played in 166 games. Succop’s career stats are not amazing, actually they seem to be a longer version of what we already have. During his career, up to this point, he has made 236 out of 287 field goals and 338 out of 348 extra-points, which is 82.2 and 97.1 scoring percentage. It seems that Succop has no problem making the gimmies, but beyond the 29-yard mark, things get a little bit wonky.
Is this Matt Gay’s job to lose? Not necessarily. Special team’s coach, Kevin Armstrong, said that he believes that the kicking competition is real close. But he said that was almost a week ago. When you had a competition that is really close between two young struggling players, the best option is to bring in a veteran.
Competition Breeds Success.
Gay welcomes competition and also says that he is working on a new kicking technique that he started working on during the offseason and that he hopes it will help him retain his job in Tampa Bay.
“I spent the offseason fixing some stuff and getting used to it, but with COVID, it was tough to get a live snap and hold and get some real and things like that. Just taking the new kicking technique that I’m using and getting used to it with snap and hold, a line in front of you and live. It’s been good. I feel more and more comfortable every day.”
He described his approach to the new kicking technique as “Just shorten it up a little bit – simplified some things, less room for error. Some things that are more repeatable, more consistent that I can draw on every day, rep after rep. Just getting more used to it, getting more and more confident each, and every day.”
As for the Bucs bringing in competition, Gay seems confident in his position.
“Competition is the baseline of the NFL. Everybody’s fighting for a job, and if you don’t perform, someone’s right there ready behind you, ready to take your spot. It’s no news to me that guys are in here competing for a shot and they’re going to bring competition in. Competition is going to breed success, and I think the potential of our team this year is super high, and I think the kicking position is very important. I think, obviously, they’re going to look for who they can feel confident going into the season with. If I come in and do my thing and do my part, I feel confident in myself – and take care of what I’m doing – that that will be me going into the season.”
For now, it is Matt Gay’s job to lose as Bruce Arians made it perfectly clear; “the most consistent wins the job.” With Fry released, it’s now between Succop and Gay. May the best man win.