For some, this will not be a surprise, but for others, this is truly heartbreaking. Fan favorite Riley Bullough was one of the casualties as we cut our final roster down to 53. Bullough became an instant star during the very first episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks, quickly gaining a following due to his leadership skills. Many fans were pulling for Riley to make the team, and at first he seemed to be a solid candidate for a roster spot.
During the first three preseason games, it was almost as if Bullough was all over the field, making tackles left and right, even if it was against 3rd and 4th string players. Although Bullough’s ability to get into the backfield and make big stops are quite impressive, his inabilities in coverage were alarming to say the least.
Despite the large fan following, Riley just didn’t display the lateral movements required by defensive coordinator Mike Smith for his schemes. Not only ask Smith, but all of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers coaches seemed to love his aggressive play, leadership qualities, and ability to get along with his teammates. However, as training camp went along, it became quite obvious Bullough lacks the coverage skills required to be a dominant linebacker in the NFL.
If this were 30 years ago, I firmly believe Riley Bullough makes any team he wants, but in today’s NFL, linebackers do more than just run stop and pressure QBs, they also have to be able to cover elite receivers and tight ends. That is the only thing holding Joe Dirt from being a defensive stud in this league. Bullough will undoubtedly get another shot to make a team and I’m sure grow into his position, it’s just unfortunate it won’t be in a Tampa Bay buccaneers uniform.
Edited by: Harmeet Kapur