October 6, 2017 at 10:01 AM
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have tried everything to rectify their place-kicker situation. They took Roberto Aguayo — perhaps the best college kicker in recent memory — in the second round of the 2016 draft, even trading up to do so. That didn’t work: Aguayo made just 22 of 31 field goal attempts last season, none longer than 43 yards, and was cut this preseason after his continued misses were given a full airing on “Hard Knocks.”
Then they went the veteran route, bringing in Nick Folk to replace Aguayo at a cost of $750,000 in guaranteed money. Folk, a Pro Bowler in 2007 and a Pro Football Focus first-team all-pro in 2013, missed just four field goal attempts while with the Jets last season. Finally, some stability!
Folk missed three field goals in the Bucs’ 19-14 loss to the Patriots, one of them a 31-yard chip shot in the fourth quarter that never had a chance. He’s now missed five of his past six field goal attempts plus an extra point over Tampa Bay’s last two games, and it appears time for the Bucs to start all over again, even though Coach Dirk Koetter was preaching something akin to patience after the game.
“You don’t want to make any rash decisions,’’ he said, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times.
“It’s unfortunate. When Nick won the job in training camp, he’s been really solid. What happened last week came out of left field. The last two weeks hasn’t exactly been what you’re looking for.’’
Said Folk: “Bad week. It started last Sunday and today. Bad week. I left points out there. We should’ve won 20-19. This one is on me.’’
And now Folk appears to be on the way out, unsurprisingly:
Since the start of the 2016 season, Tampa Bay’s place-kickers have missed 14 field goals for a 66 percent success rate, the worst mark in the NFL over that span. Maybe they just don’t like the turf at Raymond James Stadium.
Whatever the reason, the Bucs could have been known for a season-defining win over the defending Super Bowl champions. Instead, they’re the team that can’t find a good kicker, now and forever.
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