TAMPA – When he finally gave up on Roberto Aguayo this past summer, Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter said quite simply that he’d “seen that movie before’’ and just didn’t want to have to see it again.
Well, he is seeing it again, and like most sequels, this one is proving to be worse. Much worse.
When Aguayo’s replacement, Nick Folk, missed three more field goal tries during the Bucs 19-14 loss to the Patriots on Thursday night it brought his total number of misses on the year to seven, including five field goals and two extra points.
That adds up to a total of 16 points that he’s left on the field this year. A year ago, Aguayo missed a total of 11 kicks all season, including nine field goals and two PATs for a total of 29 points left on the field.
Meanwhile, with his five misses – and they have been bad, dramatic misses – in 11 tries, Folk currently holds a field-goal percentage for the year of 54.5-percent.
That’s way worse than what the Bucs got out of Aguayo, who finished his first and so far only NFL season ranked last in the league in field-goal percentage last year, but still managed to hit on 71-percent of his kicks.
Now, there were times, particularly early on, when Aguayo was hitting the mark at an even worse rate than Folk is right now, but not even Aguayo missed five field goals and an extra point in a span of just five days.
That’s what Folk, who missed two field goal tries and an extra point before miraculously hitting the game winner in the Bucs 25-23 victory over the Giants last week has done.
“It’s been a bad week,’’ Folk admitted after missing tries of 31, 49 and 56 yards against the Patriots.
No one’s arguing that. What the Bucs need to determine, though, is whether this bad week will turn into a bad season the way it did for Aguayo. Not surprisingly, those conversations have already begun.
Koetter said late Thursday that he and general manager Dirk Koetter discussed the Folk situation immediately after the game but he didn’t say what, it any, conclusion might have been reached.
“That will be something that will be forthcoming,’’ Koetter said. “You don’t want to make any rash decisions.’’
Given the way he’s performed the last two weeks, it could hardly be considered a rash decision if the Bucs were simply to cut Folk loose right now. And they very well may.
The name of former Bucs kicker Patrick Murray has already been mentioned in conversations, and there are a few other candidates floating around that could get a look.
Koetter seems a bit conflicted, though, in part because it appears Folk has been solid in practice. He’s been so solid, in fact, that Koetter said this slump of his “came out of left field.’’
“There was no indication this was coming,’’ he added. “And we only kicked live one day (in practice) this week and Nick was lights out on that day. But these last two weeks, it’s not what we’re looking for.’’
No, it’s not and what’s interesting is that there were times last year when Aguayo was kicking fine in practice but simply couldn’t find his range in the games when it mattered most.
Oddly, that appears to be what has happening to Folk. The question is, having seen this movie before, do the Bucs continue watching the sequel in the hopes that it will get better or do they give up on it now?
Bucs-Winston overcome miscues to win third straight
It wasn’t easy and there were plenty of self-inflicted mistakes, but the Bucs found a way to come from behind, and defeat the Colts for a third consecutive victory Sunday.
Tampa Bay turned the ball over four times and found themselves trailing by double-figure twice, but QB Jameis Winston threw the go-ahead touchdown pass to Breshad Perriman with under four minutes to play and the Buccaneers defense held up to improve their record to 6 – 7.
On a day in which Winston threw for a career-high 456 yards, it actually started horribly This as, he threw an interception, once again, on the opening possession of the game. Darius Leonard’s pick led to a Jacoby Brissett 48 yard touchdown to Marcus Williams and a quick 7-0 lead. It was the third time in five games that Winston has thrown an int on the first Bucs drive.
Winston threw another interception later in the second quarter that was returned by Leonard 80 yards for a score and the Colts led 24-14.
Undaunted, Winston continued to gun-sling finishing 456 yards passing for a career-high yardage and four touchdowns, including a second half score to reserve receiver Justin Watson. And then, he threw the eventual game-winning 12 yarder to Perriman.
#Bucs take the lead!
Jameis connects with Breshad Perriman 🎯#INDvsTB
— PFF (@PFF) December 8, 2019
The Colts gave away two opportunities to potentially put the game away. First, when backup running back Nyheim Hines fumbled inside the Tampa Bay 20 with 10 minutes remaining, and then, later new rookie kicker Chase McLaughlin ,who replaced Adam Vinatieri who’s dealing with an injured knee, hit the right upright on 47 yard field goal that would have put in the Colts up by 7 late in the game.
Winston led the go-ahead drive from there, going 63 yards in eight plays and including converting a fourth down with a pass of 4 yards to Dare Ogunbawale. The touchdown to Perriman came on the very next play.
Tampa Bay stopped Brissett and the Colts on fourth down at midfiled with 1:45 remaining, when DE Jason Pierre Paul hit the QB’s arm. The ball fluttered in the air, Brissett caught it and then desperately and illegally tried to throw it a second time forward to another teammate. That pass was incomplete.
The Bucs ran out the clock for their second win at home this season.
The Buccaneers playoff hopes were dashed even in victory, though, as the Minnesota Vikings won their 10th game on Sunday. That means that even if the Buccaneers win out, they can no longer catch the Vikes in the NFC race.
Still, first year Bruce Arians team is certainly playing hard, and at the right times with three games to go
Bucs looking for three in row leads our primer
Week 14 of the NFL sees two Florida teams at home and the other one facing a familiar foe in New York. The Bucs try to make it three wins in a row hosting the Colts, the Dolphins travel to play the Jets and the Jaguars have gone back to their rookie QB, while hosting the Chargers.
First in Tampa Bay, the Buccaneers come off of back-to-back road wins, where they accumulated 11 sacks and six turnovers defeating Atlanta and Jacksonville. They will take on another AFC South opponent in the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts are stumbling with three losses in their last four games and have fallen out of the AFC Wildcard picture for the moment.
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston has played better over the course of the last two games, but returns to Raymond James Stadium, where he threw four interceptions it a loss to the Saints three weeks ago. Winston is working with two of the premier receivers in the NFL in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin (above) who both have over a thousand yards this season and look to have a big day today.
The Colts have had success this season with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback and want to run the ball against what is the best run defense in the NFL, the Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay must win to keep slim playoff hopes alive trying to get into a 9 – 7 tiebreaker in the NFC Playoff Picture.
Next, the Dolphins come off a euphoric 37 – 31 win over the Eagles at home for their third win of the season. DeVante Parker had his best game as a Dolphin catching three touchdown passes. And, Miami scored on a trick play that saw punter Matt Haack throw a touchdown pass to kicker Jason Sanders. They now rematch AFC East rival the Jets who were humbled a week ago, as Cincinnati earned their first win of the season at their expense.
The Dolphins also defeated the Jets, and former coach Adam Gase, at home earlier this year
Finally in Jacksonville, the Jaguars have turned back to rookie QB Gardner Minshew. After three dismal offensive showings in a row under free agent Nick Foles, Minshew replaced him in the second half of last week. And, he sparked the Jaguars to a field goal and a touchdown in their 28 – 11 beat down by the Buccaneers.
The rookie did win four games in Foles’ absence due to his broken collarbone earlier this year. Fortunately for Jacksonville, the Chargers come in reeling having lost dramatically in Denver a week ago and questions are swirling whether it is the end of the tenure of Philip Rivers at quarterback.
Jacksonville’s defense is beaten up, including putting Myles Jack on injured reserve earlier this week with an injured kneed.