The Buccaneers offensive line was expected to struggle somewhat, at least early on in 2014, especially with four new players in the lineup. But not many expected the poor performance through the first three quarters on Sunday against the Panthers.
Center Evan Dietrich-Smith spoke to the media on Tuesday during open locker room about the unit’s performance.
“I think, for the most part, it’s really just about us as a unit,” Dietrich-Smith said. “It doesn’t matter who we play: if we don’t take care of our business as a group – starting with us, not who we’re playing against – then it’s not going to work. You can play against the worst team or you can play against the best team, but if we don’t play well as a group, it’s not going to matter what happens on Sunday because nobody is going to be able to do anything.”
In those three quarters the Bucs offense were held scoreless and managed just 136 yards. In addition, Carolina was shutting out the Buccaneers, something Dietrich-Smith said was disturbing.
“All I know is that I didn’t want to get out of there with a goose egg on the board,” Dietrich-Smith said. “It’s a pride thing and I thought that we just started making plays. Guys were running and catching the ball, we were protecting, we got some things going, got a couple of long drives and we were able to sustain and we scored some touchdowns.
“Like I said, we played bad for three quarters and it didn’t look right, but we still fought the whole way through and made sure that we didn’t give up there at the end thinking these guys beat us. It’s one of those things where you’ve got to play every snap until the clock strikes zero and I thought we did a good job of fighting and getting ourselves back into a situation where we could possibly go win it.”
Logan Mankins was traded for on the eve of the Bucs final preseason game, and when the Bucs took the field against Carolina, it was the first game snap the former Patriots All-Pro had taken with his new teammates on the offensive line. Even with that fact, Dietrich-Smith said that was no excuse for the slow start.
“I don’t think it was that we were out of sorts. We did some good things but at the end of the day, we didn’t do enough. Sacks are always on us, doesn’t matter if he (QB) holds it or not, we still have to give him time. We have to give him lanes and trust up there, and it starts with us. Logan went down, and we weren’t really in rhythm yet. [Garrett] Gilkey came in and played well, especially for just getting here. He kind of got thrown into the fire and I think he answered well.
“It’s one of those things though, we have to win those games, and we have to take care of the ball well. Now, were looking towards St Louis. That was one game; there are 15 left. I know they all count, but sometimes you might not win them all.”
Mark Cook currently is the director of editorial content and Bucs beat writer and has written for PewterReport.com since 2011. Cook has followed the Buccaneers since 1977 when he first began watching football with his Dad and is fond of the 1979 Bucs team that came within 10 points of going to a Super Bowl. His favorite Bucs game is still the 1979 divisional playoff win 24-17 over the Eagles. In his spare time Cook enjoys playing guitar, fishing, surfing and family time at the beach. In addition, Cook can be found in front of a television or in Doak Campbell any time the FSU Seminoles are playing. Cook is a native of Pinecrest in Eastern Hillsborough County and has written for numerous publications including the Tampa Tribune, In the Field and Ya'll Magazine. Cook can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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