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Buccaneers send K Brindza packing

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TAMPA, Fla. – Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said Monday he underestimated the negative impact the new kicking rules would have on games this season.

Week 4 around the NFL included 14 missed field goals and four missed extra points prior to the Monday night game. It’s been four years since the league has seen 18 missed kicks in one week of play.

Perhaps even more alarming, placekickers made only 15 of 22 attempts (68.2 percent) from under 40 yards. That’s about a 12 percent drop from that distance since the start of 2013.

“I did not think it would have this type of impact,” Bucs coach Lovie Smith said. “I thought, moving (the PAT) back to the 15-yard line, it’s a fairly short field goal to make. A little bit longer extra point. And now it’s really being discussed. We’re talking an awful lot about the kickers, putting more pressure on them each week. I didn’t at the time and now, unfortunately, we’re really having to deal with it and we’ll find a way to deal with it a little more.

“Something is happening. Of course, it’s harder moving the ball back but it shouldn’t be that much harder.”

The Bucs know first-hand how costly the kicking gaffes can be.

On Monday, they released kicker Kyle Brindza after he missed five of his last seven field-goal attempts and two extra points in the past two weeks. The rookie from Notre Dame was 6 of 12 on field-goal tries on the season. He got a vote of confidence from Smith after missing three field goals and an extra point in a 19-9 loss to the Texans last week. But on Sunday, Brindza melted down again, missing from 29 and 43 yards as well as another extra point in a 37-23 loss to the Panthers.

Smith said he didn’t regret giving Brindza another game to see if he could iron out his problems.

“Absolutely not. I mean, he deserved another shot,” Smith said. “I don’t think you move on from a player based on one performance. But when you see it becoming a trend, going a certain way, then you have to react to it. And that was the case. Kyle has a strong leg. But in our league, you know, points are valuable. You can’t miss 5 out of 7 field goals and two extra points. We just can’t afford to be in that position anymore. We saw something we didn’t like two weeks ago. Yesterday’s game told us the direction we need to go.”

The Bucs will likely replace Brindza with one of the five kickers working out for the team Tuesday: Conner Barth, Billy Cundiff, Randy Bullock, Kai Forbath and former South Florida kicker Marvin Kloss.

REPORT CARD VS. PANTHERS

–PASSING OFFENSE: D-plus. QB Jameis Winston threw a career-high four interceptions, including another pick six on his first pass attempt. He was only sacked once but still faced a lot of pressure. WR Vincent Jackson had a big day with 147 yards receiving and a touchdown. Winston has to improve his decision making and the Bucs can help with better play-calling early in games.

–RUSHING OFFENSE: C-plus. RB Doug Martin rushed for 100 yards for only the second time in his last 19 games. The Bucs did a good job creating seams up front and Martin was able to finish some runs.

–PASS DEFENSE: C. QB Cam Newton didn’t have to do very much. He completed only 11 passes, but two of them were touchdowns to WR Ted Ginn. When the Bucs needed to stand up in the red zone, they failed on a few important occasions. Lavonte David also dropped an INT at the goal line.

–RUSH DEFENSE: C. The Bucs played the run pretty well, especially against Jonathan Stewart. But the Bucs lost contain a few times on Newton, who was the Panthers leading rusher with 51 yards.

–SPECIAL TEAMS: F. The Bucs watched in horror as rookie Kyle Brindza missed two field goals and a extra point. It was the second straight meltdown of his career and cost him his job Monday. Bobby Rainey did a decent job in the return game.

–COACHING: D. The Bucs need to find a way to coach the early turnovers out of Winston. He’s now started both home games with a pick six. That kills any chance you have to win. Frankly, nobody is playing very well on this football team.


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