“He Has That Fire Inside”

May 18th, 2017

Fiery rookie

Three men will fight for the Buccaneers’ Day 1 starting running back gig this year: Jacquizz Rodgers, Peyton Barber & rookie Jeremy McNichols.

No. Charles Sims already proved he can’t run between the tackles, so he won’t win the job.

Doug Martin? He can’t compete, since the NFL says he can’t play until Week 4. If Martin is still with the team when the preseason ends, Martin must disconnect from the club for three full weeks, terms of his drug suspension.

But this post isn’t about Martin and his very long odds of having a football job in Tampa this fall. It’s about McNichols.

The Bucs’ fifth-round pick has a loud supporter, a big name, his former Boise State teammate, a guy who was the NFL’s fourth-leading rusher last year. Joe’s talking about Jay Ajayi of the Dolphins.

Ajayi, a fifth-round pick of Miami in 2015, finally was given the rock last year and made the most of it. Fantasy football fans know he was a darling, running for eight touchdowns and 1,272 yards on 260 carries (4.9 yards per rush).

The Idaho Statesman has typed several stories of the close relationship between Ajayi and McNichols. Ajayi is quick to endorse his friend as a budding NFL success.

“For starters, he’s a hungry kid. That desire, regardless of wherever you get drafted, it’s going to propel you in the league. He has that fire inside to be great,” Ajayi said. “His skill set, he showed it this last season. He was the workhorse, you could count on him catching the ball. Early in his career he did special teams. It won’t be hard for him to find a niche. Really, he’s got the skills, and being his brother, I’m trying to help with all the off-field stuff, the politics, the attention, just trying to educate him on those things so he doesn’t make mistakes I’ve seen others have made and that I’ve made.”

McNichols will have plenty of support at One Buc Palace, but how great is it for him to have a close friend in the league at the same position, a mentor eager to help him at all costs?

The rookie has a golden opportunity to win the Bucs’ starting job, the key member of a committee approach. That assumes he doesn’t fumble in preseason and can average more than 2.9 yards per carry, what Martin and Sims both averaged last season.

32 Responses to ““He Has That Fire Inside””

  1. BCoburn Says:

    Rodgers job to lose imo, but the season doesn’t start today, may the best man win

  2. Casual Observer Says:

    He looks like another great draft move by Licht. His production in Boise was outstanding. We’ll see.

  3. MadMax Says:

    Yeah we got two steals in this draft….OJ AND McNichols! I have a feeling he’s going to be sharing a lot of time with Rogers. I also have a feeling Martin is going to be good too. Nothing wrong with a 3 headed monster. Good problem to have!

  4. Support Conte Says:

    Martins spot on the roster depends directly on the performance of McNichols. If in the first 3 games he wins the job and plays well, say goodbey to martin. On the other hand, of Rodgers is the ona thats leading the running game, Barber will be the odd man out

  5. Pistol Pete Says:

    Rotating backfield…no bell cow here…yet.

  6. The Buc Realist Says:

    pistol pete is right, I don’t think its who gets the first snap of the game, but who has the most touches at the end of the game!!!!!

  7. I'm tired and 87 is right Says:

    Wouldn’t that be interesting the two facing off against each other in the season opener. Go Bucs!!

  8. Leighroy Says:

    I see this shaking out as Quiz the starter, McNichols the 3rd down back, Barber the next backup and then Sims a spot fill in. I think Martin will stay, and either Sims or Barber will be weeded out via performance or injury for week 4. In the long run, Quiz and Martin share the lead role.

    There just is no NEED to cut Martin, he’s a depth luxury the Bucs can afford for now.

  9. Kobe Faker Says:

    Jacquizz Rodgers top 3 leading rusher after week 3

    Kobe Faker

  10. darin Says:

    Elliot harrison at the nfl site summed up the doug martin situation perfectly i thought. “Everyones pulling for doug, but can they rely on him?” That answer will also answer if he will remain a buc. Im rooting for him but im a bucs fan most importantly. If we get back to the playoffs i dont care who is in the backfield. Go bucs

  11. stu Says:

    Just became a Jay Ajayi fan…

  12. Nole on Sat.-Bucc on Sun. Says:

    That is not an outlandish statement Kobe.

  13. The Buc Realist Says:


    how can you say that????? in the league or on the Buc’s roster????? Big difference of the two and of course he is not very clear in the statement!!!!!!!!

  14. BucsDan Says:

    Buccaneers social media showed Doug Martin being videoed for the MNF and TNF games, as well as had him speak directly to the fans. I took it as a “cool off” sign from management and the Bucs regarding his future, however it does not guarantee jack-.

  15. Bucsfanman Says:

    Bring it kid! Regardless if Martin’s on the roster or not, he’s 29 and not getting younger and Sims days are numbered IMO. Someone will need to step in and fill that void.

  16. Erik w/ Clean Athletics 'The Kwon Alexander of Bucs fans' Says:

    McNichols will be our new Franchise RB eventually.

    I said it 1st

  17. LakeLandBuc Says:

    If our O-Line don’t open the holes for him, he will averaged 2.9 YPC.

  18. BucDaddy82 Says:

    Starting RB job for the first 3 games…….then starting in game 4 it will be #22 Back in the Saddle again. GO BUCS!

  19. Eric Says:

    Here we go again, Joe.

    Doug Martin’s “very long odds” of keeping his job. SMH

    I’m going to troll this site everyday when he’s on the roster week 4.

  20. biff barker Says:

    Even if this kid lights it up in camp, (please, please!)) I can’t see anybody but Quizz starting early on.

  21. Bucballbaby84 Says:

    I believe that our backfield will be completely figured out by game 6. I believe that Martin keeps starting job and McNichols wins backup and quizz gets third back and Charles Sims is 4th running back and Peyton barber will be on the practice squad. Koetter is going to be a master of all trades and make this offense totally sizzle! Buc ball baby! 😁

  22. Eric Says:

    Not only will doug be starting but I think that week 4 welcome party for doug will officially quiet the haters cuz deuce deuce is going to ball against New York.

  23. Rod Munch Says:

    Sims was the best 3rd down back in football in 2015 – the only time he’s ever been healthy. Martin has only been healthy twice in his five years and he made the pro-bowl twice and the all-pro team once in those two years. People thinking the Bucs are letting this duo which lead the NFL in rushing 17 months ago to walk away for a 5th round pick – you’re nuts. I mean if the 5th rounder is that good then fantastic – but you do what the Bucs did with Kwon and Bruce Carter – you send them to the bench and see if the rookie can do it for the full year.

  24. Eric Says:

    Rod Munch

    Joe seems to think that as well. LOL

  25. Pickgrin Says:

    Looking forward to seeing what McNichols looks like on the field.

    Dude was hella productive in College the last 2 years.

    Let these #s sink in a minute:

    In his last 25 College games at Boise State (2 full years and didn’t miss a start) – McNichols ran for 3048 yards with 43 rushing TDs. Emphasize FORTY THREE rushing TDs in 25 games! JMac (I just now christened that nickname) also caught 88 passes for 934 yards with 10 receiving TDs. And his rep is that of a very good pass protector/blocker as well.

    McNichols has no “character concerns” whatsoever – the opposite in fact – and the word is that he’s a hard worker and hungry to be a great player.

    So look at CMac’s #s the last 2 years and then look at JMac’s #s above.

    McCaffrey was chosen #8 overall. McNichols was pick #162.
    They had the same 40 time – similar measurables – very similar receiving stats. McCaffrey had about 600 more yards with a few dz more carries over the last 2 years and a .5 yd per run better average – but McNichols scored more than TWICE as many rushing TDs as the “dynamic” McCaffery did… and the same # of receiving TDs.

    So yea – McCaffrey’s highlight tape looked great and he is going to be a good player in the NFL I believe – but when you break it all down and look at skillset and measurables and productivity between CMac and JMac – Here’s the conclusion.

    Carolina payed a VERY high price (1,400 value points) for a versatile RB prospect. The Bucs paid an end of the day garage sale price (26.6 value points) for a player with very similar attributes and productivity in college.

    Dis make me vewy vewy happy 🙂

    Go get em Jeremy!

  26. Eric Says:


    That’s amazing. But, why was a fifth rounder with only a 4th round grade, tops?

  27. Pickgrin Says:



    Shoulder surgery??? (was not a big deal and he’ll be ready for camp)

    The only other logical explanation is that this years crop of RBs was the best and deepest in a long, long time. So his “value” probably got pushed down some because of that??

    I would love to know where he was at on the Buccaneers big board.

    And I would also like to know what we would have done if McNichols had been picked just before our 5th round selection came. JMac was literally the last “good” RB prospect left on the board when we selected him.

    Would we have just not drafted a RB and rode with what we already had + UDFA’s this year????

  28. Bucsfanman Says:

    @Eric- 2 words: Boise State! BSU hasn’t been the cinderella darling it was around the time Doug came out.
    His stats match up with all the top RBs in the draft. If he can translate that to the pros, we’ll be in good shape, me thinks!

  29. Pickgrin Says:

    Interesting as well to compare Doug Martin’s #s his last 2 years at Boise State vs McNichols’ #s the last 2 years.

    Doug Martin (pick #31 in 2012 NFL draft)
    2559 yds rushing (5.7 ypc) – 28 TDs/ 56 receptions – 520 yds 4 TDs

    Jeremy McNichols (pick #162 in 2017 NFL draft)
    3048 yds rushing (5.5 ypc) – 43 TDs/ 88 receptions – 934 yds 10 TDs

  30. Eric Says:

    Ya I mean I know the dude has upside. But let’s think logically, if the shoulder surgery isn’t a big deal to us bloggers, then it shouldn’t be to front offices. There’s more to the story.

    If you look at his draft profile, he may not be a good cutter or maintain balance. The margin between excellent and good is very very small.

    I agree, boise isn’t respected like it used to be bucfanman. I just think everyone should temper there expectations for a fifth rounder. If he is like you guys think then our offense will be unstoppable.

  31. Pickgrin Says:

    Eric – I don’t have any expectation of this draft pick. 5th rounders usually have about a 20-25% chance of even earning a spot on a decent team’s final 53.

    I’m just pointing out how productive McNichols was in College and how his measurables and stats compare quite favorably to a couple of other RBs we know pretty well that were draft MUCH higher.

    If he becomes a productive member of the Buccaneers at any level – STs, 3rd down back or starter – as a 5th rounder – then we made a good pick. If JMac becomes a starter at any point in the next 3-4 years and plays as well as a starting NFL RB is expected to – then we got a steal at pick #162. Time will tell all…

  32. Eric Says:

    Ya you made a great point. I think nfl network said we’re the only team that had all value picks. Picks that should have been higher.

    I hope you’re right!!