Kicking Around Kicker’s Numbers

July 5th, 2016
Numbers don't add up for one scribe.

Numbers don’t add up for one scribe.

Yes, sometimes Joe enjoys digging into numbers. It’s not very becoming, Joe always notes about the PFF tribe, but Joe tries to keep an open mind.

A guy who jumps in the deep end with analytics is Thomas Bassinger of the Tampa Bay Times. You can tell he puts hours into his articles, and it shows. He always has interesting stuff.

Recently, Bassinger crunched numbers of Bucs rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo. Bassinger believes, backed by numbers, that Bucs AC/DC-loving general manager Jason Licht swung for the fences and, instead, hit an infield pop fly selecting Aguayo in the second round.

In 2015, 62 games, just more than 23 percent, were decided by 3 or fewer points. That was up slightly from 2014 but consistent with the average from the previous decade.

Kicks with the game on the line were even less common. Of the more than 1,000 field goals attempted last season, 54 came in the final minute of the fourth quarter of tight games (score difference of 3 or fewer points) or in overtime. That, too, is consistent with figures from the previous decade.

Joe agrees it raised an eyebrow when Aguayo was selected because, frankly, the Bucs sure could have used a wide receiver to complement the franchise, America’s Quarterback, Pro Bowler Jameis Winston.

That written, Joe see Licht’s argument. And, honestly, if the Bucs had a reliable kicker last year, Lovie Smith may very well still be here.

An element that Joe thinks is being terribly overlooked is the mortar kick — pooching the ball near the coffin corner to try to pin in an offense. Bassinger spends a couple of paragraphs on it, and seems to dismiss it. But let’s remember, there is zero data on mortar kicks in because this is the first year the NFL will have touchbacks brought out to the 25.

The mortar kick is now a weapon. No team is going to want to give an offense the ball on the 25 where, theoretically with three completions, it could be in field goal range. Licht believes Aguayo can be effective with the mortar kick.

One’ can’t fairly compare mortar kick numbers at an ACC school and translate them to NFL kickoff coverage numbers, solely because one would think the NFL athletes would be able to cover just a little bit better than an ACC program, albeit an elite ACC team.

41 Responses to “Kicking Around Kicker’s Numbers”

  1. Buccaneers Says:

    I still hear a lot of grief about the Aguryo pick from fans. Licht paid heavy to bring in that bum we had kicking last year.Its obvious that he values kickers a lot more then many fans who didn’t like the pick. I don’t see anything wrong with this, scoring FGs is actually pretty darn important in case you didn’t know.

  2. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    I agree with the league changing kickoffs to the 25. Makes more sense now that I think about it. And I see the stats u brought up make it sound like a kicker is not gonna be needed for a game winning kick most of the time. But it’s the kicks throught the game that make the difference as well. If u needed to be reminded of how vital a good kicker is to this team go back and watch the Texans & Colts game. This team is not good enough to win by double digits yet so we’re gonna be in a alot of close games until our defense can develop into what their capable of. Do not underestimate the value of a good kicker here in Tampa Bay. I think they are the most underated weapon in the NFL. think about it, they score most of your points for you and can make the difference between the slim margin of winning and loosing because these days teams are so talented it Comes down to a few plays.

  3. DemBoyzFromDaBay727 Says:

    I will sat that while I wasn’t against the pick, I wouldn’t of minded a guy like pharoh Cooper and not to mention that exta pick we gave up that we could of used on maybe a safety or DT.

  4. Nick2 Says:

    Its irrelevant whether the kick made which puts the team over the top to win the game is kicked in the last 5 seconds or early in the 3rd quarter. What counts is the kick was made. This guy is twisting statistics to make his point which is common when you have no story to write.

  5. Buccfan37 Says:

    Playoffs? A kicker? Squeaking by into the playoffs? eek eek

  6. DallasBuc Says:

    It was a reach. That point is not even debatable but all is forgotten if he is a great kicker. However, if he cannot get it done on this level then you have to hold Licht accountable. He could have easily gotten a quality player in the second and still picked up Aguayo in the third. It was a risk and probably a waste of valuable talent but I won’t be thinking about that if he is nailing long FGs and automatic inside 50 yards. For everyone’s sake I hope he is great.

  7. Buccaneers Says:

    It was a reach for sure. But think the value of a fourth round pick(which is what we surrendered) is being extremely overvalued……..all you have to do is go back to any draft pre 2012 and look at the players selected in 4th rounds. I guarantee you won’t have ever heard of at least 90% of them because they never made it.

    A forth round pick is not nearly as valuable as some say it is. Having a good kicker is so much more valuable. Now all we need is for Aguyaro to actually be good.

  8. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    The irony…

    …if the Bucs had taken him in round 6, people would be talking about what a steal it was and how he’ll be one of the best kickers.

    The only reason people doubt it is because of where he was taken.

    It really doesn’t matter where a player is taken. What matters is that the player is determined, dedicated and hungry to be among the best.

    It’s like this…he still has to prove himself, so it is hard to give him props. By the same token, because he has not disproven himself, it is wrong to say he won’t do well. The haters of the pick say we shouldn’t assume he’ll be the best because he hasn’t played a game.

    It goes both ways, people.

  9. Fred McNeil Says:

    I know one thing for sure. How did we feel when Bonehead Bronzes marched out onto the field after all those misses? Oh sheet!!!! Bring back George Yarno.
    Remember him? Remember Capese is caput?

  10. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    DallasBuc Says
    “It was a reach. That point is not even debatable but all is forgotten if he is a great kicker. However, if he cannot get it done on this level then you have to hold Licht accountable.”

    I agree with you…but no one around here wants Licht to be held accountable. Dirk will get all the blame…just watch if it goes bad.

  11. Fred McNeil Says:

    Bonehead Brinzda

  12. Patrick in VA Says:

    @Bonzai – You’re right. Once he’s put together a solid career, nobody will care where he was drafted. I’m in the DC area and everyone was all worked up last year when the took Brandon Sherff (sp?) at #5 overall and then played him at guard. He turned out to be a really, really good guard and now everyone is up on the pick. It doesn’t matter where a person is picked as long as they perform.

    Besides, them finding Kwon and Ali has earned Licht a little rope in my book.

  13. Bucsfanman Says:

    1st, let me get this out there. My boss was the first to teach me about statistics. “Numbers can be twisted to make a supporting argument either way,” I remember him saying.
    That said, it was an interesting article. His numbers clearly do NOT support drafting a kicker in the 2nd round. Of course, there are intangibles that might be missing from his study. For instance, what of teams that exercise a ball-control style of offense vs. teams that are pass heavy?
    The truth is that, as mentioned, once established and successful nobody will care.
    The #s are intriguing though!

  14. Cobraboy Says:

    If the league really wanted to change the kicking game, they’d set kickoffs on the 30, narrow the goalposts 3 feet, eliminate fair catches (with a 3yd. “catch zone” around the returner) and put ALL kicking/punting touchbacks on the 25…or ideally the 30..

    THEN the kicking game would be very, very interesting.

    FWIW: we kicked off from the 30 in the WFL, and did not have fair catches…

  15. DallasBuc Says:

    Bonzai- I routinely try to hold Licht, coaches and players accountable where I judge necessary and you usually are whining to me about it. Licht has basically gotten all the credit for what appear to be couple good draft choices and largely escapes all the blame for the questionable or terrible draft choices and horrendous free agency decisions, hiding behind his benefactor the great incompetent Lovie Smith. He can’t hide anymore and if Aguayo is an average or worse kicker then Licht will rightly deserve the criticism that I plan to level at him.
    Just like Mike Clayton Evans needs to grow up on the football field (and grow a pair of hands while he is at it) and Koetter needs to find a way to put up major points through his offense this year, everyone is accountable.
    Accountability will lead to wins. Go Bucs.

  16. Cobraboy Says:

    Licht did NOT make the free agent decisions under Lovie! He worked for Lovie!

    Lovie HIRED Licht!

  17. Rick in Fort Myers Says:

    We may never realize the wisdom of Jason Licht’s picking Roberto Aguayo in the second round or it could become a legendary general manager’s move. So much of a kicker’s value involves other things that happen many of which are unquantifiable.

    Adam Vinatieri comes to mind. Quoting from Wikipedia: “In Super Bowl XXXVI Vinatieri kicked a 48-yard field goal on the final play to give the New England Patriots their first Super Bowl victory, a 20–17 win over the St. Louis Rams. Two years later, and in an almost identical situation, he kicked a 41-yard field goal with four seconds left in Super Bowl XXXVIII to boost the Patriots to another championship (after missing one field goal and having another attempt blocked in the first half). This time, the Patriots defeated the Carolina Panthers 32–29, making Vinatieri the first player ever to be the deciding factor in two Super Bowl games.”

    Two kicks, two Lombardi Trophies.

    Whether Aguayo ever matches Vinatieri’s feat or collects any of his other accolades, is up to the gods of football and the way that funny shaped ball bounces. Still, it will be comforting to have the best kicker in the history of college football sitting there with the clock winding down and tie score in Super Bowl ?????

  18. Buccaneers Says:

    Dallas your right. Lovie Smith is a scapegoat though. It’s easy to just be able to point one finger. It’s also foolish to think that Smith dictated FAs and Licht just did paperwork for them. Seems reasonable to think that Licht had his opinions heard about any free agent he signed.

    Truth is no poster here fully knows how the decisions were made or what process was used.

  19. Cobraboy Says:

    People who discount the impact kicking makes on the game are clueless how competitive the NFL is, and what a difference the kicking game makes.

    While Aguayo has yet to prove himself, having “the best ever college player” at an important position isn’t a bad thing.

    I doubt Aguayo would have lasted until the Bucs next pick, and certainly 6th round is a pipe dream.

    Drop the “2nd Round” thing. He was #59, a virtual 3rd rounder. The Bucs gave up a 4th to grab him, not a high price at all.

  20. Big Irish Says:

    Most draft gurus considered Aguayo to be a a 3rd round pick. He’s that good. We used our “3rd ” pick to get him. What’s the big deal?

  21. Bucsfanman Says:

    It’s not a big deal, UNLESS, Aguayo is statistically inferior to any of his predecessors.
    And, let’s be frank, there have been MANY 2nd round draft picks that have not succeeded in the NFL, not just the Bucs. It’s that he’s a kicker drafted to a team with more holes than Swiss. cheese

  22. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Cobraboy Says
    “Licht did NOT make the free agent decisions under Lovie! He worked for Lovie!”

    Then he didn’t make the draft picks either.

  23. Chris Says:

    It looked like a Lovie Smith pick. If my defense keeps us in tight games, I’ll need a kicker.. We’re talking about having a high powered offense here and we waste, and all you FSU homers can bite it, waste it on a kicker. Jameis needs weapons. All we have at receiver is…… Mike Evans, great physically, needs to get it together mentally. Vince Jackson, who is getting older and having injuries and nothing behind them. And please with Afro Thunder, he is what he is, a late round pick that hasn’t shown anything in a meaningful game.

  24. Chris Says:

    It is a big deal. It’s a second, a high value pick. We haven’t won anything in 15 years, it’s not like we have a stock pile of talent. We need players. If the Patriots make this pick, they would be picked apart as well.

  25. BuccaneerBonzai Says:


    I don’t jump your case for holding people accountable…I jump your case for always assuming the worst in people and always attacking people who disagree with you.

    You can state your opinion and I am fine with that. It’s when I see you attacking others for doing the same thing that I speak up.

    It’s about respect. How you treat others is the issue.

    You and I probably agree on more than you think, it’s just that I don’t attack others when they disagree with me. I try to remain rational. Most of the time. (I’m sure there has been an exception here and there)

  26. Cobraboy Says:

    @Bonzai: depends on how much Lovie delegated to Licht.

    We DO know Licht owns 2016 lock, stock & barrel…

    (For some reaon many of my posts don’t show up. Why os that?)

    @ Chris: it was like 5 picks from being a third. It wasn’t like it was the #33 pick…

  27. BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    For example…I don’t have anything against Jason Licht himself. I understand that no GM is perfect, and if I had to choose strengths between drafting and free agency, I would choose drafting every time because that’s what builds for the long haul.

    People think I’m a Lovie Smith guy…but I’m really not. I just hate that fans put all the blame on him and none of the credit…yet give Licht all of the credit and none of the blame.

    Take Cobraboy as an example above. He says Licht did everything Lovie told him…blaming Lovie for the free agency stuff. But…if Lovie was really, truly in charge, wouldn’t that mean he made the draft decisions as well?

    I suspect the truth lies in the middle, but what bugged me was that Licht was not held accountable at all for his free agent decisions.

    The GM handles the scouting department, contracts, recruitment and everything to do with acquiring talent for a team…yet Licht got a pass. That’s what I have a problem with.

    However, I understand that Licht is growing as a GM. He never made excuses for himself…the fans did. Licht actually stated that he made the personnel decisions while Lovie was here (several times on the radio), but fans tend to ignore that. Licht may have sucked at Free Agency, but he has the potential to grow in that area.

  28. muvlodge Says:

    I hate to say it because I am/was onboard with the pick but I was at an OTA practice and he missed several 40 yd or less kicks. I didn’t care for how his ball looked in the air either. It seemed like every kick short or long looked like it would barely make it over the cross bar. Maybe he’s that dialed in with the length or maybe he’s not as good as people think.I was shocked to watch it live that’s all I will say and I’ve seen alot of live football being a season ticket holder since 1998 and sitting 10 rows off the field. I will be watching closely and I will be ready to boo if he sucks. Yes, we could have used both picks to bolster the team and kept Barth.

  29. Buc1987 Says:

    Chris Says:

    “We’re talking about having a high powered offense here and we waste, and all you FSU homers can bite it, waste it on a kicker.”

    Easy now there pumpkin. Not all of us FSU homers were happy with the pick.

  30. Chris Says:

    Yes , 87, you were a detractor ,I stand partially corrected.

  31. Cobraboy Says:

    BuccaneerBonzai Says:

    Take Cobraboy as an example above. He says Licht did everything Lovie told him…blaming Lovie for the free agency stuff. But…if Lovie was really, truly in charge, wouldn’t that mean he made the draft decisions as well?

    With all due respect, I ask you go back and reserch the conditions of Lovie’s hiring, his disputes with the Bears GM and the hiring process of a Bucs GM.

    His contract gave him total control of player personnel decisions. How much he delegated, we don’t know, but FACT IS Lovie Smith was the guy accountable for personnel.

    Recall that Jason Licht was the one who called Lovie with the news of his firing. Why did that happen? Because Licht was PROMOTED to “full GM” responsibilities by the Glazers, and Licht wanted to make the call as a first act of his “new” position.

    Based on what we now know about Licht—which is much, much more than what we knew about him two years ago—and the kind of players Licht likes, name me players signed as FA’s that fit the kind of player Licht likes. Carter? The Bengals DE lug nut? McClown? Jennings? Not ONE of those—or other players—fits Licht’s kind of player.

    Licht owns 2016 because he is in total charge. That cannot be said with even remote accuracy about 2014 & 2015.

  32. Pickgrin Says:

    The NFL game is not as different from College for a kicker as it is for just about any other position. Aguayo is basically as “pro ready” as a rookie NFL player can be.

    If he’s a good and fairly reliable kicker that also does a good job on kickoffs – then mission accomplished. If he’s better than “good” – then Licht is a genius in this particular regard.

    Just look at all the 2nd round misses in the past few years. Benn, Price, the bad Dexter Jackson, Sabby, Sears – perhaps ASJ and Banks if they don’t step up.
    Statistically any 2nd round pick has more than a 50% chance at being a relative “bust” and never seeing a 2nd contract.

    Odds are MUCH better than 50% that Auguayo will see a 2nd NFL contract IMO.

  33. DallasBuc Says:

    Bonzai- you never pass up an opportunity to attack me personally with bizarre regularity.
    Saying that I assume the worst in people is both untrue and unverifiable opinion and a classic Bonzai ad hominem attack. You do this every single time and either have no clue you do it or you do it intentionally to divert attention from the understanding that you have nothing of substance to contribute.
    To be clear, I do not attack people who disagree with me, I debate rationally and do not hide my disagreements. However, I will stick up for myself when when commenters such as yourself take a football conversation to personal insults like you know me or something.
    I’m here to discuss and debate all things Bucs, not make friends or enemies. I never take any of this crap personally which is the big difference between me and you.

  34. Buccaneers Says:

    Chris-I you don’t like the pick but calling it a waste seems unfair. If the kicking game improves then we got better because of that pick. I wouldn’t call improving g a waste.

  35. Buccaneers Says:

    I have read all the posts and just reread them……nobody attacked anybody here. Let’s not be over sensitive.

  36. Cobraboy Says:

    Pickgrin Says:

    The NFL game is not as different from College for a kicker as it is for just about any other position. Aguayo is basically as “pro ready” as a rookie NFL player can be.

    Actually it is.

    In the pros, goalposts are almost 5′ more narrow (disadvantage), the hashmarks 21.5′ more narrow (advantage for kicking angles). The college ball is slightly more narrow and longer than the NFL ball, and “flies” differently (college ball punts better but more difficult to spiral, NFL ball kicks better being slightly fatter, and easier to spiral but won’t fly as far.)

    Those seem minor issues but do, indeed, make a difference.

  37. Brent bull/buc Says:

    Totally disagree that 4th rd picks don’t make it. Just on our team we have gholston and spence who are valuable players who provide depth. League wide there are tons. Plus this year was said to be a deep draft unlike some years. It’s kind of a cop out to say that. Also, we could have used that high 2nd effectively not on a kicker. Finally if you want to be a great organization you have to find guys in the middle rounds who can play. Kickers are flaky and a dime a dozen. Unless this guy Aguayo is all world it was a bad move..

  38. Cobraboy Says:

    Those stats are cherry-picked.

    The point isn’t how many last-second FG’s are made. The point is how many FG’s are made throughout the season.

    If you win by a point but your kicker made 5 FG’s during the game, he’s proven his worth.

    the other issue is the PAT. How often has a missed PAT come back to bite a team, has significantly altered game strategy? I’d say more often than not. And with a PAT being 33yds, no longer a gimmee like a 21yder.

    IMO, the kicking game has become a LARGER part of a teams’ success.

    And while mediocre kickers may be “a dime a dozen” great kickers are not. When Licht and Koetter say Aguano, without question, is the best kicker they have ever worked out I’m gonna pay attention. They know what the team needs far better than “Casual Fans” (™Patrick McIrish : D )

    Keep in mind that Aguayo hit 100% of his FG’s in college from what would be NFL hash marks. 100%. Has there ever been a college kicker to have done that?

    And when your QB—the Top Dog on the team—lobbies for an old teammate, I’ll pay attention to that also.

    While Aguayo’s worth is yet to be seen, if he’s a hit the Bucs are much stronger for years because of that pick and no one will second guess the round.

  39. Dave Pear Says:

    Actually, College and NFL goalposts are the exact same dimensions.

  40. Cobraboy Says:

    Dave Pear Says:

    Actually, College and NFL goalposts are the exact same dimensions.

    Thanks, you are indeed correct. I don’t get college football down here in the DR, was going by old rules.


    However, the hashmarks are much different, making college angles even worse.

  41. BigMacAttack Says:

    I like the pick of Aguayo, but I’ll reserve judgement until I see a couple games. Hopefully he’s good and in time will become great. Last year though, kicking or a lack of, cost the Bucs games. A good kicker is crucial because that one time that the writer dismisses may be the playoffs or Super Bowl where you don’t get another chance. And besides, how many 2’nd round pics have the Bucs wasted in the last few years? I just hope that Aguayo is a consistent top 10 kicker, something the Bucs haven’t had since they let Bryant go, another blunder.