Buccaneers: Kicking competition decision coming soon?
By Zach Sauers
During a press conference this afternoon, Buccaneers’ Head Coach Dirk Koetter explained to the media that the kicking competition decision may be coming sooner rather than later… but will it?
Last April, the Buccaneers’ brass decided to draft a kicker in the second round by the name of Robert Aguayo. Aguayo, who was arguably the best kicker in NCAA history when he declared was thought to be a sure-fire selection based upon his past. Now with that being said, the general consensus across the NFL is that you NEVER take a kicker in an early round… well General Manager Jason Licht pulled the trigger in the second round (59th overall).
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Jaws dropped, phones blew up, and the media world went berserk as Licht made sure he got his leg… even if it was a little early. Can you blame Licht for getting itchy with the track record that Aguayo had? No. Aguayo made it through three years at Florida State without missing ONE extra point, not to mention he was a solid 88.5% shot at making his field goals.
Heading into his rookie season, Aguayo was less than successful. Plagued with the rookie blues, Aguayo reached out for a mental coach once his season began to downfall in hopes of turning things around. Unfortunately the rookie kicked for a measly 71% throughout his first year, even missing two extra points.
Now although most of the rookie’s first year was a tough learning experience, Berto had plenty to build upon.
A little added pressure and another kicker for competition, Aguayo is now looking to turn his career around before it’s too late.
Enter veteran Nick Folk. Folk, the former Jets hero saw an opportunity during the purge of New York to make his way south in hopes of continuing his career/paychecks. While signing the contract, Folk knew that this was going to be a battle for a job due to the fact Aguayo was not just somebody… but neither is he.
Throughout his ten-year career Folk has kicked for a solid 81.3% while only missing two extra points. To add to his success, Folk has a very strong leg. He has managed to kick successfully beyond 50+ through his career even hitting a 56 yarder in 2010.
Whatever Licht said to Folk convinced him that there was a real opportunity in beating out the former second rounder, which is why Folk even took the time.
Throughout OTAs and training camp all eyes have been on the kicking competition, and so far it has been less than pretty. As it stands now, both kickers have had their days… and haven’t had their days. A true back and forth duel has been commencing, but now thanks to Coach Koetter there is a twist. Look at what Coach Koetter explained to the media after Monday’s practice (via the team website).
"“We’d like to make a decision sooner rather than later, but it’s just hard right now.”"
Read into this how you like, but it seems like the Bucs staff has their favorite.
Let’s break down that comment.
Judging by the past few practices… both Aguayo and Folk have had success, but nothing like Saturday’s practice where Aguayo managed to hit every kick.
Having Coach Koetter comment that just a practice after Aguayo’s best day ever in a Bucs uniform gives light that Berto is in command and his success is fresh in the staff’s head.
As for the “it’s just hard right now,” quite clearly this is referring to Monday’s practice and how both kickers went a scary 2-6 on their kicks. The “hard” part for both the Bucs’ brass and coaching staff is that the consistency for both kickers is for lack of better words… ridiculous.
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Consistency is key for whoever wins this job… but will that decision truly be made sooner rather than later?
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