Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Martin Gramatica isn't exactly making many friends these days. Then again, when a kicker isn't doing his job, he loses friends more quickly than O.J. Simpson at the Goldman Family Reunion.
Gramatica, who was already taking the brunt of the blame for the Bucs losses this season, is taking it on the chin right now, especially after missing three short kicks in Sunday's devastating 17-14 loss at Carolina.
If you watched the game, Gramatica looked like the lonliest man in the stadium after the third miss. That's how teammates treat kickers in the NFL. They are the vagabonds who drift from team to team and rarely mix with the behemoths who go at it for more than four or five plays a game. When's the last time you saw a muddied or bloodied kicker?
Coach Jon Gruden said after then game on Sunday that Gramatica's job is not in jeopardy. Then he backpedaled a bit, saying that something has to be done.
Think about Gramatica's three misses on Sunday. On the first one, yes he shanked it like Tiger Woods in the U.S. Open. The second was blocked, and the third came after a high snap. That's one legitimate miss, even if that's one too many.
The thing is, Gramatica's job needs to be secure in order to salvage something out of his season, and the Bucs' season. Gramatica is a former Pro-Bowler who hasn't forgotten how to kick in the past two years; he's just a man without confidence. When he has it, he's among the best in the league.
Kickers are the baseball relief pitchers and the hockey goalies of the NFL. They are positions with fragile confidences and psyches that can snap at any second. Gramatica's is shaky right now, and it's understandable, but it's not time to get rid of him – yet.
First, whom are you going to bring in? Kickers in the NFL come and go faster than J-Lo's husbands. Second, unless a miracle happens, the season is over for the Bucs, The best they can do is 9-7, which amazingly enough, still might be enough to earn the right to get crushed in the playoffs. But, the way the Bucs have been playing, and Atlanta and San Diego up next, there's no way the Bucs do better than 8-8.
Gramatica might as well be given a shot to save his job. His should be a five-week audition for next year. Half of the roster is in the same situation. Whether Gramatica stays or not, probably half the roster will be overturned before next summer.
Gramatica has proven himself in the past and deserves the rest of the season to fight for his job. The boo birds will scream, but there's no other option better than the one that's already in Tampa.
Not Time To Pull the Trigger – Yet
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