I told you in an earlier article that I would touch on how important special teams will be in this game Sunday against the Falcons. To be blunt, the Bucs special teams play has been awful this year. Perhaps no game illustrated that more than this past Sunday against the Browns. But even before the Browns game, we saw issues with the Bucs special teams. A game that sticks out to most was September 18th against the Falcons. Falcons return man Devin Hester returned his NFL record 20th return for a touchdown in that game. 62 yards to be exact.
Bucs punter Michael Koenen is last in the NFL in punting average at 40.5. Quite simply put he's been a liability all season long. It's a pretty easy decision when it comes to how the Bucs should deal with Hester. Keep the ball away from him. Kick it out of bounds. Don't let Hester decide the outcome of this game. Lovie Smith gave his thoughts on how the team will deal with Hester.
"You have some options. One of them is ‘Hey, we’re going to stop him," Smith said. "He puts on his cleats like everyone else does.’ Another one is to try and keep the ball out of his hands or punt it higher to be able to get coverage down there, we have a few different options We won’t be using the game plan or we’ll at least change up a little bit of the gameplan from last time.”
Boy, that's refreshing. The Bucs won't use the same game plan from last time. Look, Smith has won a lot of games in the NFL. He certainly doesn't need my advice on how to handle Hester come Sunday. That being said I'm going to give him some anyways. Don't kick the ball to Hester. If the Bucs do and Hester ends up impacting this game in a positive way then this organization has some serious questions to answer. The Bucs may lose this game against Atlanta. No one would be surprised by that outcome. People would be surprised if Hester has a chance to return any kicks or punts. If the Bucs want to win this game, keeping the ball out of Hester's hands is a must.
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