Monday, December 18, 2017
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fennelly: Give Bucs' Aguayo a break, he missed one kick

TAMPA

Just let the kid kick.

Think those soccer-style types on the U.S. women's team had any better luck at the Olympics?

Bucs rookie kicker Roberto Aguayo missed his first NFL extra point in Thursday's preseason opener at Philadelphia. People chortled and guffawed.

Chortle remains atop the depth chart, but Guffaw is gaining.

Loved Aguayo's fangs mouthpiece, too.

Stylish.

Smile, everyone.

Just let the kid kick.

"You've got to take it for what it's worth," coach Dirk Koetter said with a laugh. "We knew there was going to be a huge outcry whenever he missed his first kick. So he actually missed that on purpose."

Overreaction abounds after preseason games.

Leave Aguayo alone.

Just let the kid kick.

So maybe he got nervous and tried to boot it out of the stadium and across the Delaware. Hooked it left. Bonked it off an upright. And the rest was social media.

Yes, Aguayo's miss was funny in a hapless Bucs history sort of way.

That he made 198 extra points in 198 attempts at Florida State only added to the humor.

Bucs rookie, most accurate kicker in NCAA history — misses first time out.

Figures.

Just let the kid kick.

Aguayo, 22, went out later in the game and hit a 38-yard field goal, right down the middle.

Where were the all-night-all-day replays of that?

We would be talking about absolutely none of this if the Bucs hadn't moved up to take Aguayo in the second round. We checked. He didn't draft himself.

Crazy Bucs move. And Aguayo will need to be crazy good.

When you take a kicker that high, that's what better happen. Right away.

Aguayo could hit his first 30 NFL field goals, but we'll be waiting on him when he misses.

He'll have to handle it.

Maybe Thursday was a good thing. Got it out of his system. Better now than in the opener at Atlanta, right?

And remember: Last year Aguayo's FSU pal Jameis Winston had his first NFL regular-season pass intercepted and returned for a touchdown.

I'm sure Bucs general manager Jason Licht and his staff see Aguayo as a generational kicker. Licht's frame of reference explains all. He worked for the Patriots, where Adam Vinatieri's right leg settled playoff games and Super Bowls. Licht knows what a guy like that can mean.

The only catch is Aguayo has to be a guy like that.

A great kicker can make a difference. Half the games in the NFL last season were decided by seven points or fewer and 23 percent were decided by three points or fewer.

But also I'm reminded of Bucs history and one of the iconic quotes in franchise annals — coach John McKay after kicker Bill Capece missed kicks in a loss to Green Bay in 1983:

"Capece is kaput."

Bill Capece kicked at Florida State. But so did Sebastian Janikowski, a first-round pick now entering his 17th season with the Raiders.

Aguayo might need to be that good. He'll have to be one of the best kickers in football given that draft status. How he handles that pressure will determine a lot.

Enough already.

We've watched the replay. We've made our jokes. It's time to stow our own fangs.

Just let the kid kick.

Leave him alone.

You know, until his next miss.

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