When New Coaches Come In, Bubble Players Are In Danger

May 31st, 2024

Deven Thompkins dodges 49ers punter Mitch Wishnowsky.

Last year Joe fully remembers after his introductory press conference, then-Bucs offensive coordinator Dave Canales had a sidebar with the local pen and mic club in the Bucs’ media workroom, away from the podium.

There, Canales was asked about speedy undrafted free agent (at the time) Deven Thompkins, who had just finished his rookie season with the Bucs. Canales’ face absolutely lit up and he spoke glowingly about Thompkins’ speed and athletic ability. Canales promised he would find playing time on offense for Thompkins.

Canales was a man of his word. Though Thompkins had meager production, he had a true friend in Canales. Thompkins seemed to have job security, so long as Canales was around.

Alas, Canales got hired by the Stinking Panthers in the offseason. There went Thompkins’ security blanket.

Canales wasn’t the only man at One Buc Palace in Thompkins’ corner. So too was special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, as Thompkins became sort of a de facto primary return man.

Well, like Canales, Armstrong left One Buc Palace, too. He retired. In their places came Liam Coen and Thomas McGaughey as offensive coordinator and special teams coordinator, respectively.

Neither Coen nor McGaughey had any connections with Thompkins much less an emotional attachment. Thompkins was on thin ice.

Now Joe isn’t saying Thompkins should have lost his job. He is a helluva athlete. He played bigger than his 5-8 frame. What Thompkins didn’t do was produce much. At times, Joe could argue, Thompkins shouldn’t have been on the field. Alas, Joe firmly predicted two months ago that Thompkins would be cut before the 2024 season.

Last year in the first loss to Detroit, Thompkins just got bullied by the physical Lions defense. Thompkins was out of his element against physical defenses.

Last year Bucs coach Todd Bowles made it known that midway through the season, he spoke to his higher-ups in the Bucs food chain that this offseason he wanted the Bucs to get bigger and stronger. Bowles specifically mentioned the interior of the offensive line.

But it seems with the waiving of Thompkins, Bowles wanted the entire Bucs roster to get tougher and more physical. That also may explain why the Bucs drafted a hard-hitting, hard-nosed SEC safety in Tykee Smith. It wasn’t like the Bucs didn’t have any other decent safeties under contract.

If Bowles wanted his roster to get bigger, stronger and tougher — and he did — then Thompkins was an endangered species.

Add in two coordinators who had zero connection to him and yesterday’s move really isn’t that surprising.

17 Responses to “When New Coaches Come In, Bubble Players Are In Danger”

  1. BillyBucco Says:

    There isn’t much room in the NFL at that size if you aren’t dynamic at something like speed with the cheetah. At least he will be able to tell his kids he made a Super Man flying TD.

  2. Netwalker Says:

    Bigger and stronger does not describe Bucky Irving. Yet he is a strong candidate for much of the same return duties as Thompkins. Plus he will likely do a lot of receiving.

  3. heyjude Says:

    Well said, Joe. Not surprising at all.

  4. Gbobucsfan Says:

    These new kickoff rules are going to be interesting. Where’s Jeff Demps when you need him, hahahaha.

  5. Lt. Dan Says:

    @Netwalker: Actually, Bucky Irving is strong sh!t. Check out his highlight reel – dude is tough to knock off of his feet.

  6. Joe in Michigan Says:

    Thompkins seemed decent compared to Darden (he didn’t seem to be afraid), but still not sufficient.

  7. garro Says:

    He and a handfiul of other bigger guys were fielding punts Tuesday.

    All of the Bigger men have other priorities in the Bucs organization. Like starters and high draft picks including our RB #1. Who then is gonna fill his spot. Not White, McMillen, or Palmer. Unless or new ST coordinator is insane!

    Irving the rookie? Umm when you had a guy who was leaps and bounds better then the last guy?

    Go Bucs!

  8. Bobby M. Says:

    He’ll probably get a look in Carolina. I don’t think we can really do worse with someone else back there.

  9. Mark A Swygert Says:

    The little guy was reliable. That was his “biggest” asset. I don’t remember any muffs or fumbles. I only remember about 3 returns over 10 yards in 2 years, though. Hopefully, his replacement is better.

  10. E Cummings Says:

    what about JTS is he on the bubble? how many more years are we going to give him?

  11. Statguy Says:

    Bucky Irving as small as he is still has 20-30 lbs on Tompkins

  12. Joe Says:

    what about JTS is he on the bubble? how many more years are we going to give him?

    Don’t worry Grasshopper. He’s in the final year of his contract.

  13. BucsfaninOregon Says:

    Joe, JTS is still taking up a valuable roster spot. THAT’S the problem.

  14. D-Rok Says:

    I wonder aloud, with the new kickoff rules, if the Bucs aren’t thinking Culp might be one of their return men? (We will be able to field 2 returners now). He has the size and speed.

  15. Joe Says:

    Joe, JTS is still taking up a valuable roster spot. THAT’S the problem.

    Valuable??? LOL Please don’t try to tell Joe that Jose Ramirez is “valuable.” Or Cam Gill.

    At worst, JTS is a third-string outside linebacker. The Bucs can do a *whole lot* worse than a guy who had five sacks last year as a third-stringer.

  16. garro Says:

    To me that valuable roster spot is valuable because it could have been used to find out what Ramirez (or someone else) can do that JTS has failed to do. Bowles allowed JTS to run around out there along with Diva knowing that they were both liabilities. All while ignoring guys who may prove to be of actual value. Ramirez, Watts, and Russell come to mind. Or maybe bringing in someone who does not have a privileged draft status?

    Five sacks for JTS is a bit of a misnomer Joe. At least one of those was a gimme from the refs because he happened to be nearest man to the QB. Another was questionable to me as well.

    Bowles can be very stubborn at times.

    Go Bucs!

  17. A Bucs Fan Says:

    Joe did you see the TikTok of his wife claiming physical abuse? Could that be a reason why he’s gone?