Faith Tested

August 24th, 2016



Jason Licht needed this like he needs a root canal.



In a dizzying two-week span, place-kicking has been transformed from an anticipated strength into a potential weakness. And in the process, the third-year GM of the Buccaneers has had his faith tested.

It was Licht who pulled the trigger on a draft-day deal with the Chiefs, trading two picks to move back into the second round and select Florida State’s Roberto Aguayo.

It was the first time a kicker was chosen in the second round since the Jets drafted Mike Nugent in 2005, and Licht’s aggressive move generated heat from skeptics.

And boy, are they having a field day now that Aguayo is struggling.

These last few weeks have been a nightmare for Licht, who had the guts to follow his instincts four months ago and select a kicker rather than a slot receiver or a backup safety.

“A great kicker can be the difference in several games,” Licht said on that fateful evening. “We needed to be bold there and we were.”

The bold and the beautiful this is not.

Feeling The Sting

Aguayo’s early issues are now a national story, generating the kind of headlines Licht and his scouting staff never envisioned when they drafted a glittering prospect who had never missed a field goal try from less than 40 yards in his entire Seminole career.

When the Bucs line up against the Browns in Friday night’s third preseason game, Tampa Bay fans won’t be locked in on Noah Spence or Adam Humphries.

They’ll be focused on Roberto Aguayo while mimicking The Police:

Every breath you take
Every move you make
Every bond you break
Every step you take
I’ll be watching you

While Licht prays that Aguayo snaps out of his stunning funk, Dirk Koetter and the Glazers are also watching intently.

As a first-year coach, Koetter is determined to make a good impression when the games start to count Sept. 11 at Atlanta. He was Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator last season when Kyle Brindza contributed to several Buc setbacks with his unreliable right foot.

At the moment, Koetter has Aguayo’s back … and he should. The last thing Aguayo needs to worry about is another kicker seeking to boot him off the final roster.

Koetter has been around long enough to know support goes a long way in building confidence, but he is being paid to win and Aguayo needs to turn this tailspin around.


High Stakes

The Glazers are understandably proud of Licht’s draft resumé. From Mike Evans and Charles Sims (2014) to Jameis Winston, Donovan Smith, Ali Marpet and Kwon Alexander (2015), recent draft weekends have been quite productive.

This year’s top pick, cornerback Vernon Hargreaves, looks like another winner, so Licht has built up substantial credibility with ownership as an evaluator of young talent.

If his current slump turns out to be a mere blip on a career screen, Aguayo will be regarded as yet another impressive draft chip on Licht’s table.

But what if Aguayo can’t shake his shanks?

Other noted kickers like Adam Vinatieri and Sebastian Janikowksi, who was drafted in the first round, struggled at the start before establishing themselves as standouts.

The stakes are exceedingly high here in Tampa because the Bucs didn’t wait for Aguayo to fall to them in the draft. They saw him as a difference-maker, so Licht went out and made sure he got his man.

It’s been a hellacious few weeks at One Buc Place for a 22-year-old kicker and a 45-year-old NFL executive. Aguayo needs to get his head on straight and Jason Licht needs to see his faith rewarded.

Ain’t that a kick in the head?

29 Responses to “Faith Tested”


    Aguayo is gonna be fine. If we were to let him go, he would go on to a stellar career somewhere else. He is gonna help us win alot more games than he will cost us. I have no doubt. This is our year!! The year that we finally turned into a playoff team (wild card) and got this ship back to where it used to be. And we are gonna have one of the best kickers in the game over the next decade or more. Go Bucs!

  2. Buc1987 Says:

    A lot of fans hated this part of the draft. I’m one of them and I’ve been a Noles fan for 25 years. Don’t get me wrong though I’m certainly rooting for him, but it really doesn’t look good right now. No matter how many of you want to spin it how you want to spin it.

    Let me continue to say this. I knew he was a bad pick when they made it. Until proven wrong, I stand correct.

    Snap out of it kid. We’re going to need you.

    @Ira….are you sure you REALLY work on JBF? I mean because of all the correct punctuations, and no typos. I like you and all but if you’re going to fit in with these guys, you’re going to have to have some typos. 🙂

  3. Landon Says:

    I am a huge fan of Jason Licht, he seems like a great gm and all around guy. The people that work for him seem to like him and to be inspired by his leadership. That being said, if Aguayo flames out, Licht’s choice likely will be mocked as a “worst draft move” ever bad.

    The good news about kickers are.. all they have to do is start making kicks to be great and I think Aguayo will do just that!

    PS boo on everybody who heckled the kid at yesterdays practice.. shameful!

  4. The Buc Realist Says:

    It is not the end of the world!!! Its not like he targeted a Safety with a top 10 pick in the draft!!!!

  5. Mojiska Says:

    My problem with the pick was simply that unless he goes on to be a pro bold and all pro kicker the next 10+ years it will be considered a horrible pick. There really is no way he can exceed expectations. To me, it is almost a setup for disappointment from the get go, expectations are so incredibly high for him. I mean, even Hargreaves can exceed the expectations places on him by drafting him at 11, but a second round kicker is expected to be one of the best ever, anything less will be a bust sadly.

  6. Landon Says:

    If he is a consistent top 10 kicker for 8+years with some clutch wins, I would consider him a success late in the 2nd round. He doesn’t have to be the best kicker ever to be worth the pick, he just has to be good for a fair amount of time imo. I would imagine the bust rate that late in the second round is fairly high..

  7. Landon Says:

    Unfortunately, many people don’t have reasonable expectations for the kid, so in their eyes he is destined to fail!!

    example: Reasonable expectation is that a rookie kicker will miss some kicks..

  8. Buc1987 Says:

    Landon…I get what you’re saying which is why I don’t get into Aquayo debates. I know Janokowski had tough start too. Which is why I’m hopeful, but after watching a kid for 2 years at FSU be money on nearly every kick, regress in his last season, I’m realistic too. His misses were HORRIBLE in 2015. Which made me question Licht’s move in a BIG way.

  9. Brent bull/buc Says:

    This is going to be fun to watch play out..

  10. Buccaneer Bill Says:

    @Landon Exactly!

    This is just media churn, all very TMZ-like. There’s only a story here if he is cut.

  11. Landon Says:

    I feel ya 87, clearly your doubts were not unjustified..

  12. Landon Says:

    Brent bull/buc Says:
    August 24th, 2016 at 6:44 pm

    This is going to be fun to watch play out.


    I can honestly say I have never been more interested in the daily performance of a kicker in practice..

  13. I know why Says:

    Wait Ira…so if you average 2-3 good picks each year that’s good? If one every two years makes a pro bowl that’s good! Buc realist that safety was paid, it’s our fault in trading away a player of that ability. Ira, Dominik on line one. He said he’d like to talk to you about Mccoy, Gholston, Spence, Barron, Lavonte, Glennon, James, Martin etc. ha!

  14. McClorasMaddenDaddy210 Says:

    Listen, I’ve been a long time reader to OUR beloved site here…as a true fan of all things BUCS. I’m elated that you are here, greatest site ever JBF! There is but one thing I ask…
    Please, if only once, I’d like. No. I’d love to here you refer to One Buc place as
    ONE BUC PALACE. It would mean the world to me, maybe other readers here too.
    far as our kicker goes, #3 is going to take the pressure off of him. PROMISE you that. #3 to #13, to #83, #87, run game on BEAST mode
    YO JOE!
    GO BUCS!!!

  15. Seminole Bill Says:

    The kicker is likely to be the player to lead the team in points scored. And, will likely be the ‘go-to’ player on 4th and long inside the opposing team’s 45 year line, when we are 2 points down with a minute to go. That’s how valuable a kicker is. I’ll be at the game Friday night and cheering for him to make every kick…and wincing if he misses.

  16. Buccfan37 Says:

    Yeah, and everbody says kickers are easily found at a dime a dozen. Suddenly they become the most important player on the team. Seems like preseason football progress has been thrown out to worry about the kicker. Like we Buc fans don’t have enough to worry about already.

  17. SB with Jameis Says:

    Ive been a Bucs fan since ’76. My faith has been tested a bit.

  18. Mike Johnson Says:

    This kid is gonna be good…eventually. Now how long do you wait and at what cost? We are all hoping his jitters/nerves are just an acute introduction into the NFl. But guys, we Bucs play some real close games. And field goals may determine more than just one or two games this year. We’re all rootin for the kid. BUTT…..he’d better come out of his funk…quickly. We are depending on his leg. FSU is behind him. Bigtime now. This is the NFL where one mistake? And you are somebody’s lunch!! Do what you have been doin all your life Mr. Aguayo. Kick the hell out of that pigskin. Roberto, I’d hate to see you taking my drive thru burger order in a couple months. BALL OUT sir!

  19. Old Time Buc Says:

    I think he will be ok, just has to have confidence in himself. Too much hoopla here. I made my comments when we moved up to draft him, but he is a Buc now so get behind him.

  20. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    I hope he gets a shot at a game winning kick on Friday. It would be a boost for his confidence. Let’s remember, he is still 0-0 in the NFL.

  21. LakeLandBuc Says:

    You don’t trade a 3rd and 4th for no kicker. That’s a no-no in the NFL, especially when you have the 13th ranked kicker of all time on your roster.

  22. DB55 Says:

    I’m a Matt Bryant guy myself. I was there when he kicked that 63 yarder against the Eagles. It was the funniest thing ever bc the eagle fans were talking so much junk then they started pouting as they walked home losers. LOL

  23. gotbbucs Says:

    It is what it is. I’ve seen plenty of other 2nd, 3rd, 4th rounders never be worth a poop in the NFL too. If he sucks, you move on and grab one off the streets like everybody else does.

    Sadly, the NFL in all of their wisdom has made the kicker an even more important part of the game than ever before. Who’s bright idea was it to make games won and lost on missed extra points? Asinine.

  24. RedRunner Says:

    Would be interested to know if(I would assume they do) the Bucs have a team psychiatrist and if he is already working with Aguayo. It is all a mental thing in my opinion and I am sure he will snap out of it.

  25. ben Says:

    Any gm that would give up 2 high draft picks for a kicker when the bucs had a decent guy already on the team and lots of other needs… is a joke .

  26. BuccaneEric75 Says:

    A 4th rounder isn’t a high draft pick.

  27. cometowin2 Says:

    If I were Berto, I would talk to another kicker that has gone through a major slump and pulled out if it. In 2007 the best kicker coming out was Mason Crosby. I remember because he went to my wife’s Packers in the 6th round. He went through a very bad slump in 2012 converting on only 63.6% of his field goals. They hung onto Mason and have been rewarded. Reach out and find out how he pulled out of it. It’s in his head.

  28. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    I think a pick is a pick. The player either fails or succeeds.

    Jason Licht has a good track record with draft picks, especially in the top three rounds.

    Most of you have been touting the “trust in Licht” phrase for months. Now that trust is being tested, you show your true colors. “Trust” isn’t a partial thing. You don’t “kind of trust” someone. You either trust them completely, or you don’t.

    So stop your whining. Decide whether you will be the kind of wishy-washy fan who turns on a dime, or a dedicated fan.

    The idea that kickers don’t need time to grow is a complete myth. ALL kickers need time to grow in the NFL. Team either have the patience to stick with them or not, but if they don’t, another team reaps the benefits. A kicker is the QB of Special Teams. Give him time, people.

  29. BucInJAX Says:

    Ira, you mentioned draft successes for JL, and included Hargreaves as a probable. Has Noah Spence fallen out of probable for you?