If the playoffs have demonstrated anything this postseason –- aside from needing spectacular quarterback play -– it’s that the kicking game matters.
That’s probably the reasoning general manager Jason Licht and the Bucs used to package a pile of picks and move into the second round last year to take Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo.
It hasn’t paid off –- not yet, anyway -– for the Bucs. Aguayo missed four of his first eight field goal attempts this season, likely costing them the Rams game when he missed a field goal and an extra point, and finished making only 71 percent of his field goal attempts (22 of 31), which was last in the NFL....
It wasn’t a real play. Aaron Rodgers told each of his receivers which route to run. Get open. Schoolyard football. Then the Packers quarterback, rolling to his left, throws a dime for a 35-yard completion to toe-tapping tight end Jared Cook with three seconds remaining. The play sets up Mason Crosby’s game-winning 51-yard field goal in a 34-31 victory over the Dallas Cowboys.
That may not have even been the best thing Rodgers did Sunday. One play earlier, he withstood a blind side sack by Cowboys safety Jeff Heath and somehow held onto the ball with his right hand. (Are you watching, Jameis Winston?)....
TAMPA — Defensive coordinator Mike Smith signed a multiyear contract extension with the Bucs, saying that for the next couple of years, he will forgo pursuing head coaching jobs to remain in Tampa Bay.
Terms were not released.
Locking up Smith for several years could be big for the Bucs since the former Falcons head coach figured to be in the mix each offseason for a head coaching job....
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith signed a multi-year contract with the Bucs and said for the next couple years he will forgo pursuing head coaching jobs to remain in Tampa Bay.
Terms of the new contract were not released. But locking up Smith for several years could be big for the Bucs since the former Falcons head coach figured to be in the mix every off-season for a head coaching job.
Smith, 57, interviewed for head coaching jobs with the Jaguars and Chargers. On Thursday morning, he withdrew his name from consideration with the Chargers job, which went to Bills interim head coach Anthony Lynn....
TAMPA — Shortly after withdrawing his name from consideration from the San Diego, er, Los Angeles Chargers head coaching job Thursday, the Bucs made sure defensive coordinator Mike Smith was not relocating.
Tampa Bay signed Smith to a contract extension, keeping the cohesiveness to a unit that showed considerable improvement in 2016. Terms of the new deal were not released.
The Bucs ranked 23rd in the 32-team league in total defense this season, but they showed noticeable progress the final eight games. They ranked third in takeaways with 29, including 17 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries. They won a league-high five games when scoring 19 points or less; they won one such game the previous three seasons....
Shortly after withdrawing his name from consideration from the San Diego, er, Los Angeles Chargers head coaching job Thursday morning, the Bucs made sure defensive coordinator Mike Smith was not relocating.
The Bucs signed Smith to a contract extension, assuring the team will continue on the improvement it showed on defense in 2016. Terms of the new deal were not released.
The Bucs ranked 23rd overall in total defense this season, but they showed a huge improvement the final eight games. The Bucs ranked third in the league in takeaways with 29, including 17 interceptions and 12 fumble recoveries....
Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo chalked up his disappointing rookie season to a "learning" experience and said he needs to become more of a pro both on and off the football field.
Aguayo’s struggles began almost as soon as the Bucs selected him in the second round from Florida State. He began the season 4 of 8 in field goal tries before connecting on nine of the next 10. Overall, Aguayo made only 71 percent of his field goal tries (22 of 31) with a long of only 43 yards....
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston said Monday there were at least three games the Bucs could have won to qualify for the NFL playoffs, something he said he wishes he was a part of.
Appearing on ESPN’s Mike and Mike, as part of their coverage of tonight’s College Football Playoff national championship game, Winston addressed a wide range of topics, from preparing for the title game, to college players boycotting bowl games after entering the NFL draft to breaking down the Falcons, Seahawks, Chiefs and Cowboys, the first three of those teams he beat this season....
On the day after the Bucs' season died, Gerald McCoy wore a black hoodie with a yellow emoji encircled by the words that matched his mood: I'M NOT EXCITED. After a 9-7 season, only the 12th winning record in the 41 years the NFL has played in Tampa Bay, there would seem to be plenty for McCoy and his teammates to look forward to. But the star defensive tackle knows this was a big opportunity lost. After watching all 16 Bucs games again, away from the din and deadlines, this much is clear: For a team that needed one more win — or the right win (over the Rams or Saints) — the Bucs had their chances. "We thought we had a lot of opportunities we missed out on," McCoy said. "It was a better season, but we know we should be getting ready to play again. Nobody's really happy about that." A few observations:...
Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith will have at least two opportunities to make his case for becoming a head coach again.
The San Diego Chargers will interview Smith, who already planned to meet with the Jacksonville Jaguars to discuss their head coaching position.
On Monday, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter almost sounded resigned to losing Smith.
"Obviously, when we brought Mike here we knew that this day might come and this day would come," Koetter said....
TAMPA — It was a startling admission, and maybe he was just thinking out loud. But after watching his offense take a few steps backward this season, Dirk Koetter said Monday he is contemplating giving up play-calling duties so he can spend more time on other obligations as head coach.
"I'm contemplating, 'How does our team get better in all areas?' " Koetter said. "And when we look at everything, is there someone out there who can do a better job to help us than me calling the plays? Then that's something we have to take a look at."...
TAMPA — If Dirk Koetter does give up calling plays, the Bucs could have new coordinators on both sides of the ball next season.
Defensive coordinator Mike Smith will interview for the Jaguars head coaching job. Smith went 66-46 as head coach of the Falcons from 2008-14, reaching the playoffs four times including the NFC Championship Game in 2012. Smith was the defensive coordinator under Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville from 2003-07....
Dirk Koetter said he is contemplating giving up the play-calling duties so he can spend more time with on other obligations as head coach.
In his season-ending press conference Monday, Koetter said he has several members of his coaching staff that are capable of calling plays but that he wants to be sure of his decision before turning those duties over.
"I’m contemplating how does are team get better in all areas. And when we look at everything, is there someone out there who can do a better job to help us than me calling the plays, then that’s something we have to take a look at," Koetter said....
Mike Smith may get his chance to be an NFL head coach again.
The Bucs defensive coordinator will interview with the Jacksonville Jaguars for their vacant head coaching job.
Smith went 66-46 as head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2008-14, reaching the playoffs four times including the NFC Championship game in 2012. Smith was the defensive coordinator under Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville from 2003-07....
TAMPA — The pre-game handshake took place near midfield, just two NFL head coaches whose teams seemed headed in different directions when Sunday began.
A year earlier, Panthers coach Ron Rivera was 15-1 in a season that ended with a Super Bowl 50 loss to Denver. He had been to the league's mountaintop, has an appreciation for the climb and — with only six wins this season — the steep fall....