Tuesday, August 14, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs kicker Roberto Aguayo will have competition this year

TAMPA — After drafting FSU's Roberto Aguayo in the second round in April, the Bucs cut both of their returning kickers, leaving his job uncontested for 2016.

After struggling as a rookie, he won't be as lucky this fall.

With one field goal missed and another blocked in Sunday's one-point win over the Panthers, the Bucs finished last out of 32 NFL teams in field-goal percentage, 71 percent.

Coach Dirk Koetter made it clear Monday that Aguayo will have competition in 2017, and if the results aren't there, the Bucs are ready to move on.

"As far as the investment in Roberto and where we picked him, we were all on board with that," Koetter said. "That's not going to change. We're never going to bring that back. That happened, and Roberto was our kicker and like any other player, if he's got that Buc jersey on and he's out there on game day, I'm 100 percent in. With that said, our field-goal percentage this year was not good enough. That's not the only stat that's not good enough."

Not only did the Bucs hit only 22 of 31 field-goal attempts, they went 4-for-11 on kicks of 40 yards or longer. Aguayo's long was 43, making the Bucs the first NFL team since 2010 to go an entire season without hitting a single field goal of at least 45 yards. To find a Bucs season where they did that, you have to go back to 1980, when Garo Yepremian's long was 43 yards.

"I think it's already proven that we have no problem moving on from a draft choice and playing somebody that wasn't drafted," Koetter said. "We've got to have competition at every position. Nothing's a given. If they're not the best player, then I feel pretty certain in saying they won't be out there."

NFL'S BEST: A strong showing in Sunday's win against Carolina gave the Bucs defense the title of being the NFL's best on third downs for the season.

It's a remarkable turnaround under first-year defensive coordinator Mike Smith, considering the Bucs ranked 30th in 2015, allowing opponents to convert 46 percent of the time.

The Bucs went into Sunday's game second behind Miami, but after holding Carolina to 4-for-15 on third downs, they improved their season total to 34.4 percent, jumping to first.

SO CLOSE: How close were the Bucs to making the playoffs as a 9-7 wild card? If the Bucs had simply flipped their last two outcomes, instead beating the Saints and losing to the Panthers, Tampa Bay, instead of Detroit, would be preparing to face Seattle.

The Bucs and Lions had the same 9-7 record and 7-5 conference record, but Tampa Bay lost the record against common opponents tiebreaker, going 2-3 while the Lions went 3-2. If the Bucs had beaten the Saints, they would have finished 3-2 in that subgroup and the tiebreaker would have moved on to the next criteria, which the Bucs would have won.

THIS AND THAT: The Bucs signed six players from their practice squad to futures contracts to compete for jobs next fall: RB Blake Sims, TE Tevin Westbrook, CB Cody Riggs, OL Mike Liedtke, OL Josh Allen and S Isaiah Johnson. … Koetter said rookie Ryan Smith, a fourth-round pick who didn't play a snap on defense but worked most of the season as a safety, will be a cornerback moving forward. … Guard J.R. Sweezy, who missed all of 2016 with a back injury, said he's "very confident" he'll be ready to play in 2017. Koetter wasn't so sure: "We really don't know what we have," he said.

Contact Greg Auman at [email protected] and (813) 310-2690. Follow @gregauman.

Comments
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Tony Dungy to enter Bucs’ Ring of Honor

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Tony Dungy to enter Bucs’ Ring of Honor

With Tony Dungy at One Buc Place today for a news conference in advance of his induction into the Bucs' Ring of Honor, Rick Stroud recalls Dungy's tenure as the team's head coach.Dungy established a winning culture in Tampa Bay and led the ...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Brent Grimes happy to be back, healthy at Bucs practice

Brent Grimes happy to be back, healthy at Bucs practice

Veteran cornerback Brent Grimes had returned to practice in a limited capacity Saturday, but Monday saw him back in 11-on-11 full-squad work for the first time in nearly two weeks."We want Brent Grimes out there. He's our best cover guy, so it's grea...
Published: 08/13/18

Madden 19 predictions: The Bucs are bad, the Browns are good and the world might be ending

You thought the Buccaneers’ playoff drought was going to end last season. Instead, they lost six of their first eight games and limped to a 5-11 finish.If only someone or something had warned you.Actually, something did.A video game.While every...
Published: 08/13/18
Even bigger: Bucs TE Antony Auclair up to 270 for 2nd NFL season

Even bigger: Bucs TE Antony Auclair up to 270 for 2nd NFL season

A year ago, when Antony Auclair made the Bucs' roster as an undrafted rookie, the Canadian import was already the largest tight end at 6-foot-6 and 256 pounds.That's even more the case now as he heads into his second season with the confidence that c...
Published: 08/13/18
Peyton Barber has edge on starting RB job over Ronald Jones

Peyton Barber has edge on starting RB job over Ronald Jones

It's still too early in the preseason to declare a starter at some positions, but Bucs coach Dirk Koetter took a step in that that direction Monday at running back.After an underwhelming performance by rookie Ronald Jones in the preseason opener at M...
Published: 08/13/18
Koetter on Bucs’ practice fight: ‘Big deal. I mean, it’s football’

Koetter on Bucs’ practice fight: ‘Big deal. I mean, it’s football’

One day after a video showed an extended fight at Jaguars practice, and two days before the Bucs start joint practices with the Titans, Bucs coach Dirk Koetter said he wasn't worried about a minor late-practice skirmish between players."We had a figh...
Published: 08/13/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Is Bucs’ QB depth the best in franchise history?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Is Bucs’ QB depth the best in franchise history?

Do the Bucs have the best trio of quarterbacks they have ever had? What does Vernon Hargreaves' injury mean for the secondary? How did Tampa Bay's running backs fare in the preseason opener? Rick Stroud answers these questions and more on today'...
Published: 08/13/18
Alan Cross may not look like a typical NFL tight end, but there’s nothing he can’t do on the football field

Alan Cross may not look like a typical NFL tight end, but there’s nothing he can’t do on the football field

TAMPA — Alan Cross always has been the boy on the bubble. A linebacker in high school, he walked on to his college team, Memphis, as a long snapper. He had no scholarship offers. Hugh Freeze, then head coach at Arkansas State, told Cr...
Published: 08/12/18
Bucs claim cornerback De’Vante Harris from Saints

Bucs claim cornerback De’Vante Harris from Saints

The Bucs got help for their injury-depleted secondary on Sunday, claiming third-year cornerback De'Vante Harris off waivers from the Saints.Tampa Bay has veteran Brent Grimes just returning from injury and Vernon Hargreaves and Javien Elliott dealing...
Published: 08/12/18
Unheralded receivers stepped up for Bucs on game-winning drive

Unheralded receivers stepped up for Bucs on game-winning drive

TAMPA — The Bucs' come-from-behind finish Thursday night, going 67 yards with no time outs in the final two minutes to set up a game-winning field goal, would be impressive under most any circumstances.Add in the chaos of the end of a preseason...
Published: 08/12/18