HBO's "Hard Knocks" Bucs Season Wraps Up With Player Cuts; QB Winston Star Of Series
The final episode of HBO's "Hard Knocks" aired last night, and it "tied a bow nicely" on the storylines of the Buccaneers and "most of the players on the edge of the 53-man roster," according to Bette Marston of SI.com. Viewers "knew over the weekend that the Bucs decided to cut RB Jeremy McNichols," but the series "showed us a bit of drama from the inside, from both the personnel and the player side." While Bucs coach Dirk Koetter "seemed to remain optimistic about McNichols’s development, offering him a spot" on the practice squad, McNichols "felt otherwise" and decided to take an offer to join the 49ers’ practice squad. Marston notes "pretty much every featured player on 'Hard Knocks' was cut," including QB Sefo Liufau, WRs Bobo Wilson and Donteea Dye, and LB Riley Bullough. Watching Koetter "deliver these cut speeches was insightful on his style of coaching." He "usually explained his process of thinking when he made the decision to cut the player, and in several cases," he explained what he "could do better should he sign with another team" (SI.com, 9/6). In Tampa, Tom Jones writes the player cuts "aren't easy to watch," but they are the "most compelling part of the show." Jones: "It was agonizing watching and listening to the players getting cut, either in person or over the phone" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/6).
YOU DA REAL MVP: NFL.com's Dan Hanzus writes the "MVP" of the season was Bucs QB Jameis Winston, who "goes beyond simply standing out in this documentary format." He "bursts through the screen and joins you in the living room," and he has been "welcome company this summer." Hanzus: "The quarterback room of Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Griffin and Liufau is my favorite in 'Hard Knocks' history. I didn't sob in an empty room or anything, but I was genuinely touched by the manner in which Winston and Fitz supported Liufau ahead of the preseason finale" (NFL.com, 9/6).