“That’s My Primary”

July 17th, 2019

M.J. Stewart speaks

With the 53rd pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, our Buccaneers stunned plenty of draft gurus and selected cornerback M.J. Stewart out of the University of North Carolina.

He would get more bust chatter around town if it wasn’t for The Ronald Jones Experience.

Stewart appeared in 11 games last season (five starts) for the Bucs’ deplorable secondary. He looked slow and overmatched. Was he banged up? Was he out of position? Joe isn’t sure. But what Joe does know is that Stewart hasn’t recorded an interception since November 21, 2015.

Joe also knows the Bucs officially/unofficially moved Stewart to safety this offseason, per general manager Jason Licht, and then they jumped into the 2019 draft and rather quickly selected two cornerbacks and a safety.

That’s hardly an endorsement of Stewart’s potential.

Stewart joined NFL Network for a 1-on-interview Monday on Good Morning Football. There he proclaimed that his move to safety is going well but nickel cornerback is his thing. “That’s my primary,” he said with a smile.

Stewart said he’s a “dog” out there and nickel is his favorite because he enjoys the diverse demands of the position.

Joe wishes Stewart well, but it’s unlikely he plays much on defense this season unless he really can play safety.

New safeties coach Joe Rapone enlightened Joe and other media back in May when he said, “The safeties in Todd [Bowles’] defense basically run the defense.” If that’s true, well, the Bucs might be in big trouble.

36 Responses to ““That’s My Primary””

  1. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Totally different scheme this year- No more soft”read” coverage that players did not like and did not feel comfortable with.

    Coaches this year are coaching to players strength.
    Do you not get this, Joe? – We all know you are football savvy.

  2. BigHog Says:

    Let the guy develop, he moved to a different position…let’s see if he can develop! Unlike that that newly resigned L-Tackle, who claims he can’t play R/Tackle …If I were the coach D Smirh would move to L-GUARD and move Marpet back to the right side but then we would still need to find and develop a L/Tackle … maybe I should just leave it to the coaches!! GO BUCS. GO SUHY GO FAMOUS!!

  3. Destinjohnny Says:

    The joys of having the worst gm…..

  4. Buccaneer Bonzai Says:

    Giving up on him far too soon, Joe.

    You might be right about him…but you may not be. We’ll see. If he makes the final roster, then the coaches see something in him.

  5. Defense Rules Says:

    Stewart has a tall hill to climb. Bucs have more nickel CBs than we have anything else … starting with VHIII, our 2016 1st Rnd pick. Any of our CBs (with speed) can play nickel, but also most of our safeties can also. As well as Deone Bucannon.

    Barring a bunch of injuries, Stewart better be prepared to make the team as a Safety. Of course all he’s got to do is beat out Justin Evans, Jordan Whitehead, Mike Edwards, Kentrell Brice and Isaiah Johnson to earn a spot AND get playing time. Good luck MJ. On the good news side, he does have the salary Cap going for him … making $1.1 mil this year with a Dead Cap value of $2.0 mil. Bucs need to think twice before cutting 2nd year guys like that. Thank you Jason … the gift that keeps on giving.

  6. SCBucsFan Says:

    We sure do like bashing our players around here. Oh, I forgot, losing seasons + no playoffs means a reason to look at the glass as not 1/2 full but completely empty. Sorry, like this board I’m just “keeping it real, saying what I see”.

  7. stpetebucsfan Says:

    A question for all here.

    Frequently there’s a player or two who make the squad not because of their primary position…in this case safety/nickel…but because they are great on ST.

    Anybody know about Stewart’s ST ability? I’m largely ignorant there as to his ST performance and if he even plays.

    Follow Up…who besides Stewart does anybody see making this team because of ST excellence. I think we all agree our ST’s have sucked and we need to improve them dramatically!

  8. 813bucboi Says:

    he’ll be at nickle and safety this year with CD and VHG starting outside….the rookies will provide great depth which we didnt have last year….

    as mentioned above, the difference will be coaching and scheme…..coaches will put players in position to be successful….defense wont stay in 1 predictable scheme for 4quarters and will actually be aggressive…..

    imo, IJ will be the odd man out….all of our other safeties have the flexibility to play nickle…he doesnt….

    GO BUCS!!!!

  9. TDTB Says:

    Odd pick when it was made. Time hasn’t made it any better. I appreciate depth and “developing” players but round 2 is for starters not depth and projects.

  10. Broy34 Says:

    Amazing that the worst coaching staff in team history and borderline nfl history drafts two players and doesn’t utilize their strengths and they’re being called busts in a combined 11.5 games. Truly remarkable. Gives people some time

  11. Louis Friend Says:

    IMO if it weren’t for ASJenkins, Aguayo and so many others this would end up being called Jason Licht’s worst pick in any draft. So many great players waiting to be taken – and you draft THIS guy as a CORNERBACK.

    Licht is trying to sweep him under the rug quietly this season for him to be cut in the next training camp. Because that’s what’s going to happen.

  12. Ghost of Darrell Henderson Says:

    “I appreciate depth and “developing” players but round 2 is for starters not depth and projects”

    How do you explain picking Sean “Murphy’s Law” Bunting in the 2nd when there was some excellent OL picks available or a legendary CB from a National Championship team available (Treyvon Mullen). Gruden and Mayock scooped him up 2 picks later.

    SMLB would have easily been available as a project in the 4th or 5th round.

  13. Louis Friend Says:

    Broy34 – he’s already toast. They praised the heck out of the new guys and even VH3 and Ryan Smith of all people got a little too. Not a peep about Stewart. Want to know why? He doesn’t have the skills to force impact plays. He didn’t in college, and if they can’t do it in the pass happy ACC they aren’t doing it in the NFL.

  14. Louis Friend Says:

    Ghost of Darrell Henderson – at least SMB has a history of forcing turnovers. And he can play this defense.

  15. Easy Says:

    He has one season to prove himself.

  16. Christopher Schiefen Says:

    Once again, Joe showing an ignorance of the defense the Bucs are actually running. Nickel in Bowles’ scheme is a Honey Badger Swiss Army knife: not really a corner, not really a safety, yet you’ve gotta do plenty of hitting. Sounds like Stewart to me.

  17. Christopher Schiefen Says:

    Plus, do you really think the Bucs are putting up MJ on national tv if he’s basically a bust? The secondary pics are more about how injury-prone VHIII & Justin are.

  18. Buc4evr Says:

    Hard to judge Stewart with the world’s worst DC calling plays from the 90s. Let’s see how the DBs and Safeties do this year, then decide.

  19. Pryda...sec147 Says:

    Clean slate for everyone! Coaching has been so poor around here for many years. BA is going to have everyone playing fast smart football.

  20. Larry Says:

    The unemployment lines are full of coaches and GM ‘s that drafted players with “POTENTIAL”!!! Stewart is TOO SLOW to play in the NFL. Doesn’t matter how hard you can hit someone if you can’t catch them.

  21. buc15 Says:

    I hope I am wrong but he seems too slow to play nickel.

  22. Race to 10 Says:

    If you want to call VH3 a busy maybe busy he wasn’t a zone coverage player in college shop we had no business drafting him but mj Stewart, rojo? Please stop calling guy whose played only one season a busy at least until they get cut. Kicker doesn’t matter no matter the coaching change they had one job. No one Kazmir what he will do but true he may not be athletic enough or fast enough but guys of that caliber aren’t busts And were likely going to be average players anyway

  23. BA FAN Says:

    Licht picked Stewart because he was flexible and a physical hard hitter. Anyone remember a slow CB who was a hard hitter who in his third year turned into our best Corner of all time, Rhonde Barber, and played Safety for us too in his later years and nobody has done better running down behind our opponent’s OL and nailing their RB before he could hit the hole. Once he learned all the nuances of his position he outshone most other faster CBs we got, and could play fast in pads without a good 40 time. He also became a great playmaker too, but he looked like a bust too his first two years. Everyone has to agree that Stewart was a hard hitter during underwear football last year. Give the kid a break. Licht is good at spotting unheralded players with potential and we know BA can develop each one’s potential to the max just as the Patriots do every year, looking rough at the start of the year but playing like first round players in the Super Bowl. With giving BA’s players significant reps in practice he may even be able to develop fully each player by our first season game. Trust BA! Don’t forget BA spotted Bunting’s great potential and didn’t want to lose him; that is why Licht took him late in the third round!

  24. Don_RyJo(e) Says:

    I’m withholding ALL judgement on the defensive “busts” until I see what competent coaching can do. I personally suspect a lot of the “busts” will turn things around and surprise us.

  25. SenileSenior Says:

    A reaction to SCBucsFan Says:
    July 17th, 2019 at 9:26 am

    There is a difference between media savvy sensationalism and unbiased objective reporting. One bleeds into the other however most of the time. This is the dilemma of all Conservative and Liberal reporters in the political realm for sure. Sports reporting should be looser and be judge accordingly in my opinion.

    The use of the term “fan” in the title JoeBucsFan was what drew me to this sight. Fan implies positive support in my mind.

    The Joes are trying to balance wearing reporter hats and fan hats. This is indeed a difficult task for anybody. More power to you!

    Joe(s) you need to step back and reexamine the thrust of your policies, self chosen mission or “editorial” stance from time to time.

    The negative tone of just this one article should give you pause.

    I am not saying you are “wrong”. You have a business to run after all.
    Go Bucs!!!

  26. Joe Says:

    Plus, do you really think the Bucs are putting up MJ on national tv if he’s basically a bust?

    The Bucs don’t do programming for the NFL Network. Given the time of the year, wouldn’t be a shock if they even knew about it.

  27. Buccaroo Says:

    Wasn’t he a rookie? C’mon, it’s ridiculous to call someone a bust in their first season. This is why so many players move on from this team only to have better success somewhere else. Here’s a novel ideal, why don’t we spend the time to develop these guys before we cast them away?

  28. Tampabaybucfan Says:

    Interesting that the NFL Network treated MJ like a star that he isn’t. Kay Adams makes anyone she interviews look interesting….wonder why?

  29. Jeff Says:

    Another blown pick by Light.

  30. Bucnjim Says:

    Way too early to be calling anyone a bust! By the end of this year which will be year two for a lot of these guys then MAYBE we can talk. Almost all players are system players where they excel in a specific defense. Let’s see if we can play to their strengths before labeling them.

  31. TDTB Says:

    Ghost, I agree. Bunting may mature into a great player but there were kids available that would help the team now. If you accept the draft strategy as being the best course (which I don’t), Adderly was available when Bunting was picked and Garner-Johnson was available when Edwards was taken. Maybe Licht and Company will prove to be right, but literally every player ranking had Adderly and Gardner-Johnson ranked higher and both of them have the ability to play both corner and safety. Adderly is even forecasted to be in the hunt for AFC defensive rookie of the year. I hope i’m wrong but they smack of picking Stewart over Donte Jackson.

  32. SOEbuc Says:

    “The safeties in Todd [Bowles’] defense basically run the defense.”


    MJ could be a good box safety. Mostly on running plays. He’s a very strong, downhill runner that can hit. I still remember the two FF in one of the PS games last year. He might not have had the feet control to play nickel in Smitty’s zone defense that looked like FIFA, but I’m thinking he’ll be able to get across the field quicker and get more tackles in a press type scheme.

  33. Kgh4life Says:

    The guy was over-drafted, it was very clear the moment he stepped on the field. He was consistently beaten by slot receiver’s. M.J. just look slow and unathletic, just another indictment on Jason Licht.

  34. Joe Says:

    Kay Adams makes anyone she interviews look interesting….wonder why?


  35. Buczilla Says:

    It’s his second year and he had a someone who mysteriously forgot how to coach teaching him in his first one. I have hope for him, but if he’s another bust then Licht has got to hit the road.

  36. Countrybrew Says:

    I sure hope he proves everyone wrong. He was a rookie with bad coaching on a bad team with a horrible scheme. Give the kid a break.