Photo via Orlando Ramirez / USA Today Sports
By now, many people have heard of Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Roberto Aguayo’s troubles on the field. Last season, Aguayo only made 22 of his 31 field goal attempts, putting him at a 71 percent conversion rate.
Many fans in Tampa Bay took this as enough to write Aguayo off. Many felt as if he had failed them by his consistently poor performances.
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Aguayo was a standout kicker during his tenure at FSU, making 88 percent of his attempts.
So why the drop-off in performance?
Some just chalked it up to the difference between the NFL and college football. However, back in 2014, Aguayo made this 53-yard field goal against Miami, clearly, distance was not his issue.
Others blame it on nerves, saying that Aguayo just can’t take the heat of the NFL. Because of this, a large percentage of Bucs fans decided it was time for Aguayo to go, and it seemed like the Bucs leadership agreed. As such, they picked up former New York Jets kicker Nick Folk as a potential replacement.
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There is now an intense kicking battle between Folk and Aguayo doing what general manager Jason Licht hoped it would do, kick Aguayo into gear.
A couple of weeks ago, it looked like Aguayo was shaping up in the Bucs’ minicamp. “Roberto is actually getting better,” Licht said via CBS Sports.
The kicker has been making progress in practice and Licht is “excited that he actually has progressed from where he was from last year.”
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The point is, Bucs fans and the NFL media need to give Aguayo a break. A disappointing rookie season for a kicker isn’t unprecedented.
Oakland Raiders kicker Sebastian Janikowski, who has made over 80 percent of his field goals over his 17-year career, had a similar rookie season. Janikowski, also out of FSU, made 68.8 percent of his kicks in his rookie season.
If Aguayo doesn’t shape up for next season, then, by all means, the Buccaneers should replace him with a different kicker. But given his previous excellence in college, he needs a chance to settle into the NFL.
Hopefully, Aguayo can continue his improvement and become a consistent kicker so the Bucs can live with themselves after taking him in the second round of the 2016 NFL draft.