Will They Stay or Will They Go?
In the preseason finale tonight, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers welcomed in Head Coach Jay Gruden and the Washington Redskins to Raymond James Stadium. The fourth game of the preseason is almost always the last chance for quite a few players on every NFL roster. For Riley Bullough it may not be his last NFL stop. If the rookie linebacker is cut following Tampa Bay’s final preseason game, expect he could find a new NFL home quite quickly.
Bullough has been a fan favorite on HBO’s Hard Knocks, a show staring the Tampa Bay Bucs. Riley has been featured quite a few times over the first four episodes. Another player who has been featured on Hard Knocks, Jeremy McNichols may also be without a team shortly. The former Boise State running back has had numerous issues in training camp, and is viewed as being on the outside looking in on a roster spot.
Rookie wide receiver Chris Godwin has all but locked up the number four receiver behind Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Adam Humphries. Seventh round pick Stevie Tu’ikolovatu seems to have locked up a spot on the roster as he was not dressed tonight, while Kendell Beckwith who seems to be the odds-on favorite to start alongside Lavonte David and Kwon Alexander at linebacker, is in the lineup tonight.
Final Game Before the Season Opener..
To start the game Washington won the toss and elected to receive. Second year Quarterback Nate Sudfield, started for the Redskins with Kirk Cousins resting up for the season opener. On the first series Beckwith would shut down the Redskins with a sack, forcing Washington to punt away to the four-yard line. Journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick would lead the Buccaneers onto the field tonight with Sefo Liufau expected to have some playing time tonight. Fitzpatrick would target Godwin twice on the first series before making way for punter Bryan Anger.
On their second drive of the game Washington would push their way down the field, kicker Dustin Hopkins would give the Redskins the lead with a 53-yard field goal. Through the first quarter the Bucs really couldn’t get anything going with Fitzpatrick at the helm. The team only managed two first downs, both by running the ball in the first quarter. Washington on the other hand moved the ball better than Tampa Bay. Nate Sudfield was nine for seven while throwing for 54 yards. Fitzpatrick was one for four, while throwing for only 1 yard.
A Tale of Two Quarterbacks..
The second quarter wasn’t kind to the Bucs either. With two quarters in the books, Ryan Fitzpatrick a guy whos been a starter in the NFL could only manage two completions for a combined 6 yards. His counterpart for the Redskins Nate Sudfield completed seven passes out of nine for 131 yards. Kendell Beckwith finished the first half with a sack and Peyton Barber had six rushes for 23 yards. Fitzpatrick made way late in the 2nd quarter for rookie Sefo Liufau. The Bucs finally got on the board via a Zach Hocker field goal with 8:33 left in the 4th quarter.
One thing about this team is for sure, the depth isn’t as good as one would think. Sure there are some spots on the roster where the depth is a little bit better than others, but as a whole this was not a good team on the field tonight. Now one would say, they held the Redskins to three points through nearly three quarters. Yes they held the Redskins third and fourth stringers to three points. The Bucs had an NFL starter in at quarterback and at least one wide receiver who will get a lot of playing time in the regular season, yet threw for six yards. There are a number of other positions where the depth isn’t nearly as good.
Bucs Realize Biggest Issues
The biggest worry is this is the NFL, there will be injuries to starters. Everyone knows that this team clearly can’t survive without Jameis Winston, Fitzpatrick proved that tonight. The team looked extremely tired and gassed, not a good look for some of these guys who are trying to make the roster. This preseason has not been kind to the Buccaneers, first they part ways with their second round kicker from the 2016 draft, and their overall offense at times has been lackadaisical at times, causing fans to worry about this team.
Following tonight’s game the Buccaneers have a few choices to make. Adarius Glanton is the number four linebacker, while Devante Bond and Kendell Beckwith battle for the strong side linebacker job. Does the team keep five running backs and three quarterbacks? How many wide receivers will the team carry behind Evans, Jackson and Humphries? Only one thing is for sure right now. The NFL regular season kicks off Thursday night with Kansas City and New England, and a week from this coming Sunday the Buccaneers travel to Miami to face the Dolphins.
Low Scoring Affairs..
Tampa has only managed double digit points in two games this preseason ( 12 points, Aug 11th vs Cincinnati and 12 against Jacksonville six days later). The lack of touchdowns this preseason has to be slightly troubling. Jameis played into half time in games two and three. Is the hype getting to this team, has Hard Knocks done more bad then good? Tonight the Buccaneers only managed 10 points, but this lack of scoring has to be worrisome. Liufau will be the quarterback cut, and depending on how long Ryan Griffin is out you may see Fitzpatrick shown the door. With the final score being 13-10, the Bucs need to find a way into the endzone. Less than two touchdowns a game no matter how good your defense, won’t get you into the playoffs.