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The 5 O'Clock Club: Tampa Bay Buccaneers edition

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It’s 5 o’clock somewhere...

The 5 o’clock club aims to provide a forum for reader-driven discussion at a time of day when there isn’t much NFL news being published. Feel free to introduce topics that interest you in the comments below.

The Redskins wrap up the pre-season by traveling down to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers on Thursday in the battle of the bottom of the rosters, with cut downs to 53 players following on 2 September no later than 4:00 p.m. EDT.

THE TAMPA BAY HYPE

A lot of people believe that Tampa Bay’s star is on the rise, and that they are in a position to challenge for the NFC South this year in a tough division.

Bucs fans seem to be buying into the hype:

It’s certainly been trying times for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this decade. They haven’t made the playoffs since 2007 and are on their fifth head coach in nine seasons. If Dirk Koetter, who is headed into his second season as head coach, makes it to a third year, he’ll eclipse the tenures of his two predecessors, Lovie Smith and Greg Schiano.

It sounds like a dysfunctional mess, but things are looking up for the Bucs thanks to having the one thing that’s eluded this franchise for decades: a legitimate franchise quarterback. Jameis Winston took some noticeable steps forward as an NFL sophomore, and the Bucs were one of the league’s hotter teams once the second half of 2016 came around, winning five straight games to enter the NFC’s playoff race. They faded down the stretch but still finished 9-7, the team’s first winning record since 2010.

With Winston under center, a superstar wide receiver in Mike Evans, and rising talent on the defensive side, general manager Jason Licht has quietly built one of the most promising young teams in the NFL. The next challenge for the Bucs will be navigating a tricky NFC South, where the Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, and New Orleans Saints will all be tough opponents.

But despite the competition and some question marks left on the roster, there’s little doubt that the Bucs are heading in the right direction.

PLAYER LINKS BETWEEN THE FRANCHISES

Two starters from last year’s Redskin squad — Chris Baker and DeSean Jackson — will be on the field, this season wearing the colors of the opposing team. The Buccaneer fans seem happy enough to have Desean on the team while seeing him only as a “wingman” to the Mike Evans show:

So Evans is the real deal, but he needed more help — a solid No. 2 receiver was one of the Bucs’ biggest offseason needs. Vincent Jackson was clearly on the decline even before tearing his ACL last year, and the 34-year-old free agent remains unsigned. With no other serious in-house replacements, the Bucs signed DeSean Jackson, who’s almost the opposite of Evans in terms of skill set.

Jackson is small, fast, and can still take the lid off defenses even after turning 30 years old. He’s also a consistent injury risk, having not played 16 games since 2013, but the Bucs will take that risk as long as Jackson frees up Evans to do his thing on the field.

The muted level of excitement for DJax in that article surprises me, though Jameis Winston, when asked about Jackson said, “DeSean Jackson is a Bentley with a Ferrari engine.”

Chris Baker, meanwhile, doesn’t appear to be on the minds of the Buc’s fans. Scrolling through the Bucs Nation site, I had to go back to early March — the days of free agent signings — to find any reference to Baker:

Baker is mostly a run-stuffing defensive tackle who will likely replace free agent Akeem Spence as an early-down nose tackle, though he could also function as a defensive end in a 3-4 lineup. Defensive coordinator Mike Smith has shown a preference for bigger, hybrid defensive linemen and a mix of 4-3 and 3-4 alignments in the past, so it’s likely the Bucs are looking at Baker in a role similar to that as well.

HARD KNOCKS

With Tampa Bay being featured on Hard Knocks this season, there’s probably little to say here that will add much enlightenment to what ‘Skins fans already know about the Buccaneers. My personal favorite story line in Tampa has been the 2-season saga of the second-round draft selection, Roberto Aguayo, whose tenure with the Bucs came to a crashing end in front of a worldwide audience.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE 4TH PRE-SEASON GAME

This is an important game for the “bubble” players competing for roster spots.

Some fans may remember that, last year, a hurricane forced the Redskins game in Florida to be re-scheduled, creating a conflict with another team event. Jay Gruden & the front office decided to keep a lot of the starters and veterans in DC and sent the JV squad to play the pre-season game.

Many fans questioned whether this was the right message to send to the team.

ONE MORE LINK BETWEEN THE FRANCHISES

Of course, one of the many meaningful links between the franchises is Bruce Allen, who has been the GM of both clubs. I thought I’d share this Wikipedia blurb about his time in Tampa Bay:

Following the 2003 season, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers released long-time general manager Rich McKay, whose relationship with Super Bowl XXXVII winning coach Jon Gruden had deteriorated. The Glazer family, which owned and oversaw the Buccaneers, hired Allen to replace McKay, as Allen had previously worked with Gruden in Oakland.

Allen immediately began looking for a more youthful team in Tampa Bay. This included releasing long-time Buccaneer John Lynch and allowing Warren Sapp to leave for free agency, along with drafting Auburn running back Carnell "Cadillac" Williams in the 2005 draft.

The Buccaneers performance during Allen's tenure was mixed. His first year there, the team went 5-11. The next year however, they were 11-5 and won the NFC South division in 2005, but went 4-12 in 2006. The team rebounded to a 9-7 record and another NFC South title in 2007, after which Allen (and Gruden) had their contracts extended to 2011. Following a second 9-7 record in 2008 and missing the playoffs after four consecutive losses in December, however, both Allen and Gruden were released.

Poll

Who will be the Redskins Starting Nose Tackle in 2017?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Joey Mbu
    (54 votes)
  • 8%
    A.J. Francis
    (17 votes)
  • 29%
    a different DL currently on the roster — McLain, McGee, Hood, Iaonnidis — basically, a DT sliding inside and doing his best
    (56 votes)
  • 2%
    The ‘Skins will trade for a NT before the weekend
    (5 votes)
  • 11%
    The ‘Skins will sign a player cut from another team this weekend
    (22 votes)
  • 17%
    Mbu & Francis both make the team
    (34 votes)
  • 2%
    Some other option
    (4 votes)
192 votes total Vote Now