With the release of former Buccaneers running back and undrafted free agent Bruce Anderson and the signings of both Tony Brooks-James and T.J. Logan, a small number of fans have voiced their disapproval and had hoped Anderson would have been kept around. We have to assume that they’re basing this off of what they hope he’ll do somewhere down the line because it’s obviously not based on what he’d done through the preseason.
In the first preseason game, Anderson wasn’t given the ball at all and dropped the only pass thrown his way, which obviously didn’t make a great impression. In his second preseason game, he improved slightly, with 3 carries for 3 yards and again had zero receptions. His second game performance wasn’t enough obviously, as, in his third game, Anderson again would be given the ball a grand total of zero times. In his final appearance for the Bucs, Anderson would have his best game, as he carried the ball 20 times for 70 yards and a touchdown. The downside to that performance is that it came against the worst players on the Cowboys roster as the starters weren’t played, while the 2nd string and most of the 3rd string players had already been benched for the game.
If the Buccaneers had kept Anderson, they would have had to cut either Barber, Jones, or Ogunbowale since along with Anderson, the Bucs also cut former Cardinals running back Andre Ellington. We know that Barber and Jones are the primary running backs for the Bucs, so cutting them wasn’t going to happen and isn’t even worth getting into, which leaves us looking at how Ogunbowale compared to Anderson over the preseason.
In game 1, in which Anderson failed to gain any yards, Ogunbowale carried the ball 10 times for 34 yards and 2 touchdowns. Neither player had a reception, but Ogunbowale clearly had the better night. It didn’t get any better for Anderson in game 2 though, as Ogunbowale would put up 34 yards on 13 carries and add 54 yards to his total on only 3 receptions while Anderson would only tally 6 yards on his lone reception. Again, Ogunbowale clearly outplayed Anderson and with two games in, we are seeing a pattern emerge.
The third game didn’t prove any better for Anderson in his battle for a roster spot, as Ogunbowale would put up 22 yards on 7 carries and 19 yards on 2 receptions which were a drastic difference from Anderson who had 0 yards on 0 carries and 0 yards on 0 receptions. The 4th game would prove a little different though as Ogunbowale would only manage 9 yards on 8 carries but managed 17 yards on 2 receptions. Anderson put up better rushing numbers with 70 yards on 20 carries and a touchdown but again didn’t stand out catching the ball as he only managed 7 yards on his lone reception.
If you’re keeping track thus far, that’s 38 total carries for Ogunbowale and 23 carries for Anderson. Those carries resulted in 99 rushing yards for Ogunbowale and 73 for Anderson. With Ogunbowale picking up 2 touchdowns and Anderson 1. Ogunbowale 7 receptions for 90 yards and Anderson 2 receptions for 13 yards.
Now a few might say it’s not Anderson’s fault that he wasn’t given the ball, but if you recall, when Jones was only given the ball 23 times over an entire season, we were told by that same small group, that it was all his fault and he was a bust that should have been cut in the off-season. Obviously, Coach Arians saw that wasn’t the case and made it clear to everyone that he has complete confidence in both Jones and Barber and that he’s certain they can do what needs to be done.
Along with performing better in both the run game and the catching game, Ogunbowale also proved to be a better blocker than Anderson, and far better on special teams, which gives Ogunbowale a leg up on the competition, as a running back that can run, catch, block, and return kicks isn’t something every team is able to find and even harder for a team to hold on to. Just in case you still aren’t convinced that Ogunbowale should have made the regular-season roster over Bruce Anderson, just remember that Dare Ogunbowale was named Captain of the special teams by his fellow teammates, proving that they see what he brings to this team and what he’s capable of adding to their season.
Instead of trying to discredit the work that Ogunbowale has put in, the result of that hard work, and his making the regular-season roster, perhaps just maybe, we should wait and see how he does and hope for the best. When the players perform to the best of their abilities, it’s better for the team, the coaching staff, and the fans, and that’s something everyone should be able to get behind. If they are wearing the red and pewter, support them, encourage them, cheer for them, buy their jersey, hope for the best, and save your snide remarks for the off-season.