Well guys, it’s that time of year again, time to trim the 90 man roster down to the 53 men that will go to war on behalf of our beloved Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Since the Buccaneers are on Hard Knocks, roster cuts are going to be a little different this year, dare I say, a little sentimental. Thanks to Hard Knocks, we have gotten a behind-the-scenes view of our team, and especially the players. We have gotten to know the rookies and the players that are on the bubble. We have heard their stories about how they got here and what they had to endure to get here. It’s going to be difficult saying goodbye to more than a few of them, but nonetheless, the NFL is a business, and if you can’t better the team immediately, then you don’t deserve to take a roster spot from someone that will make an immediate impact. When it comes to the NFL, it really is that simple.
Let’s begin with the fan favorite Riley Bullough, aka Joe Dirt. Beginning with the first episode of Hard Knocks, Bullough caught everyone’s attention with his leadership skills. He showed he can be a vocal leader for any team, and went out of his way to learn every defensive position, as well as where everyone was supposed to line up. Riley is a great tackler, but as Mike Smith noted, he lacks lateral movement and struggles in coverage. A perfect example of this was the third preseason game against the lowly Cleveland Browns when towards the end of the game, Riley had an opportunity to stop the Browns from making a completion and end the final drive of the game, but on cue, Bullough blew the coverage and allowed the TE to get behind him and make the catch, allowing the Browns to get a first down and keep the game winning drive alive. You could see the fumes radiating off Mike Smith in the press box, and he seemed to state what we could all see with our eyes, “He just doesn’t have it!” Unfortunately, it’s hard to argue that fact, so, as difficult as it may be, Riley Bullough will not make the 53 man roster.
Next up, Jeremy McNichols. It’s not a stretch to say Jeremy has been an extremely disappointing draft pick. McNichols was drafted in the hopes of potentially being Doug Martin’s replacement down the line, but his lack of football IQ and lack of awareness make him a liability for the team. McNichols consistently misses blocks, runs the wrong route, or doesn’t he simply misses the hole, and runs right into the heart of the defense. Perfect example of this comes from that same Browns game when Jeremy nearly got our backup quarterback, Ryan Fitzpatrick killed because he missed a key block on a blitzing safety. You cannot make mental mistakes like that in any position, but especially when you’re a running back. I think, with the way Doug ‘muscle hamster’ Martin has looked this preseason, and with the praises being levied towards Charles Sims by head coach Dirk Koetter, Jeremy McNichols may be the odd man out.
Another lost cause is Bobo ‘cocky’ Wilson. Sorry Mr. ‘I know my stuff coach’, but just because you played with Famous Jameis at Florida State doesn’t guarantee you a roster spot on this team. We do not need selfish players that aren’t willing to listen or learn. There was a reason you only played 9 snaps last game with zero targets, much less completions. With Bernard Reedy and Donteea Dye stepping up, they are all but guaranteed a roster spot, leaving Bobo the odd man out. Perhaps this is what he needs to open his eyes up and realize nothing is going to be handed to you, you have to work for it, strive for greatness. Immaturity is certainly his problem, but thankfully, it won’t be Tampa Bay’s for much longer.
Next up, Tight End Luke Stocker. Stocker has been a Buccaneer for 6 years and is only 29 years old, but I firmly believe his time in Tampa has come to an end as well. Luke was brought in to be a blocker, but with the addition of stud TE O.J. Howard, it seems Luke will be the odd man out. The Buccaneers are trying to get younger across the board, and they really like the versatility of Alan Cross, who can also play fullback. The Buccaneers also drafted Anthony Auclair, who has shown a lot of promise. It certainly looks like the veteran Luke Stocker will be the odd man out.
Last but certainly not least, CB Jonathan Moxey. Moxey has had a very quiet off-season and that trickled into the preseason. He hasn’t shown anything to truly impress the coaches or the front office and with Javien Elliot having had a much better camp, unless Moxey can have a career defining game against the team from Washington tonight, there isn’t much he can do to change coaches’ minds. Sorry, Moxey, you’ll have an opportunity elsewhere.
Although we feel a connection to these players, let’s not forget once again that the NFL is a ‘what have you done for me lately business’ and these players just haven’t done enough to separate themselves from the bunch, and for that reason, I believe they will be gone when final roster cuts are made on Saturday to trim the roster to 53 men. One more week Bucs fans, then the games really count. I for one, cannot wait!