It’s been a rough summer for Roberto Aguayo.
Chosen in the second round by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016, Aguayo didn’t make it to a second season in Tampa Bay because he was cut after the team’s first preseason game in favor of Nick Foles. In search of a potential buy-low value, the Chicago Bears claimed Aguayo off waivers and brought a kicking competition to Halas Hall. Unfortunately, Aguayo’s kicking woes have traveled with him to Chicago.
Aguayo made his Bears debut with a missed field goal against the Arizona Cardinals, and followed that up by catching head coach John Fox’s eye for all the wrong reasons during practice on Friday.
“Our kicker had a little bit of a struggle today in some of his field goals, but it was something we knew about Roberto,” said Fox of his newest kicker during his press conference at Halas Hall on Friday. “He’s got a very strong leg, and he needs to work on his accuracy. That’s why we’re out here practicing. Otherwise, I think we operated pretty well.”
Fox landing a direct shot in that manner was pretty unexpected. After all, I can’t recall Fox ever being that openly critical of a player by name, let alone a kicker. And to start off his meeting with the press by dropping that nugget definitely should raise some eyebrows.
This isn’t where Aguayo wanted to be at this stage of his pro career. Aguayo bypassed his senior season at Florida State after earning first-team All-American honors in each of his three seasons kicking at Florida State, but hasn’t recaptured the form that made him a successful college kicker. Aguayo put together a nice career with the Seminoles, hitting 69 of 78 (88.5%) of his field goal attempts, but that level of accuracy eluded him during his rookie season where he made just 22 of 31 (71%) of his tries.
Connor Barth, who was beaten out by Aguayo at Buccaneers camp last season, has been nothing short of perfect since the Bears brought in Aguayo as camp competition. It appears he has a stronghold on the job, despite making just 78.3 percent of his kicks in his first season in Chicago.
So how can the Bears fix Aguayo before having to make a decision?
“It’s like working with golfers,” Fox explained. “It really doesn’t matter how they are on the driving range, it really comes down to what they do on the course. They make tweaks, they have swing coaches, we have kick coaches. … We’re going to mess with him, we’re going to have a long look, but he’s been very receptive and that’s an area we really need to improve at.”
Oof. Struggling is one thing, but being compared to a struggling golfer suggests a lot will have to go right over the next two weeks for Aguayo to unseat Barth and make the season-opening roster.