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September 20, 2011 @ 12:27 pm
Current rating: 2.00 Stars/2 Votes

The Buccaneers' Great Wall

Written by Chidi
Ahanotu
Chidi Ahanotu

Chidi
Ahanotu

Columnist E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Former Bucs defensive end Chidi Ahanotu discusses the importance of Tampa Bay's offensive line in the second half of the Bucs' 24-20 come-from-behind victory at Minnesota. Bucs QB Josh Freeman has been sacked four times this year, but only one is the fault of the O-line.

In the history of the world, there have been many great walls built by man.

The Great Wall of China being the most famed of all the walls, and there was also the Berlin Wall. Now, Tampa Bay fans, we have the Buccaneers’ Great Wall of offensive linemen.

This offensive line, which has been assembled in part by Bucs general manager Mark Dominik and head coach Raheem Morris is a jewel. For the second straight week, the offensive line has kept quarterback Josh Freeman clean and virtually untouched, giving him extra time in the pocket to find any open wide receivers.

Although for the second week in a row the Tampa Bay wideouts have struggled to get open and win their one-on-one battles, the extra time Freeman is getting in the pocket has freed up certain receivers like Preston Parker, who had a career-high six catches for 98 yards, and has made a major difference.

NFL defensive backs can’t cover receivers forever and that is exactly what the Bucs offensive line has given Freeman – forever. The first to be stymied was the vaunted D-line of the Detroit Lions, led by Ndamukong Suh. The feared Minnesota Viking pass rush of Jared Allen and Co. has now been added to the list of teams that are finding it an almost impossible task to get over, under, through or around the Bucs’ Great Wall.

Allen had one sack, but it was on a quick throw that called for left tackle Donald Penn to cut him. However, Freeman held on to the ball too long, which caused the sack. Freeman also caused another sack by holding on to the ball and not sliding the protection towards a free rusher. Other than those two “give me” sacks, the Great Wall has dried up opposing teams efforts to sack its QB. Freeman has been sacked four times in two games, but three of those are his fault, according to the team.


What are the names of these warriors who make up the Great Wall? Left tackle Donald Penn, left guard Jeremy Zuttah, center Jeff Faine, right tackle Jeremy Trueblood and right guard Davin Joseph have gelled together to form an impenetrable wall that absorbs, repels, and eradicates opposing teams defensive lines pass rush.

The Great Wall has also been used to blow up holes for bruising running back LeGarrette Blount. After a disappointingly low Week 1 production in which Blount gained just 15 yards on five carries, the Bucs utilized their main weapon more often in the second half of the Minnesota game and Blount and the Great Wall responded magnificently with two touchdowns and 67 of Blount’s 71 yards against the Vikings.

At key moments in the game at Minnesota, the Bucs’ running game kept the Vikings defense on its heels, gashing the unit for purposeful yards and softening them up, which opened up the passing game even more.

With a Great Wall, like the Buccaneers offensive line, anything is possible. Even without great wide receivers winning their one-on-one battles on a consistent basis, the possibilities for the Bucs are endless with this type of fortified front. At times when the wideouts are covered up and no one is open, Freeman has efficiently dumped the ball off or used his legs to gain meaningful yards. With so much time in the pocket, Freeman has been able to study the field and not make many ill-advised decisions.

For an NFL unit that traditionally doesn’t get much fanfare, highlights, or accolades, this unit deserve mounds of credit for its performance in the second half of the Bucs’ win against the Vikings and many more wins will come as the season rolls on.



Chidi Ahanotu was an NFL defensive end for 12 seasons, including eight with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1993-2000). Ahanotu is the fifth all-time leading sacker in Buccaneers history with 34.5 QB captures. His career-high 10 sacks in 1997 helped the Bucs make the playoffs for the first time in 13 years and led to him being Tampa Bay's franchise player in 1998.

Aside from being a columnist for PewterReport.com, Ahanotu is the owner of Cigars of Soho, which is located at 212 S. Armenia Ave. in Tampa, Fla. To visit the Cigars of Soho Facebook page, click here. Cigars of Soho is open until midnight every night.

Cigars of Soho is the only South Tampa cigar lounge open after dinner to enjoy a nice cigar. Wednesday night is poker night at 9:00 p.m., and the lounge has NFL games on high definition TV on Sunday and Monday nights.

Last modified on Tuesday, 27 September 2011 09:32
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COMMENTS

  • avatar

    They have pass blocked very good, the WRs need to get open more OR Freeman has been gun shy early, not sure which. The run blocking has been horrible except for 2 of the 8 quarters they have played. Hopefully they start hitting stride and keep it going.
  • avatar


    I know Tampa Bay Fans, I've use to live there I remember when Tampa was going to put in for a NFL team or bring another team In. Alot of Nfl personnel mention that Tampa didn't have a NFL stadium, Well that change and the Tampa Bay Bucs was born even at 0 and 26. Today teams have a lot more talent then backin the 60's. I am very please that now the offensive line is starting to Jell. Iam hoping that Tampa will win this big game Sat, then the next, next etc. I know that the job market is bad down there, But the fans have to make a decision on why team to support. Bucs, Lightning, or the Rays, Plus college teams like USF,Gators ,FSU, and Miami,Fla. Plus Dolphins, Jacksonville. I believe if The fans don't look out, But I believe that the Bucs is building a team this year. I wished I was there to throw my support. So being in Texas, I have to keep rooting for the Bucs up here. I hope to see Tampa play Carolina or Cowboys in December. GO BUCS.
  • avatar


    Read around the league. Our O-line scares no one. In fact the most common description is "overrated". After the dollars and draft picks, I tend to agree. Serviceable is about as kind as I could agree with.
  • avatar


    Chidi - Great focus on the line. As you mentioned, the Jared Allen cut was something that the average fan would have missed and assigned to Penn, but rather than speaking in platitudes, give us more information like that! That's valuable stuff and the sort of X's and O's insight that can't be gotten from anyone else but a former pro lineman.
  • avatar

    "Great Wall" ok, a bit overstated! The O-Line has been solid in pass protection at times and the run blocking sub par most of the time. Trueblood hasn't had a personal foul or a holding call yet in two games so he is was ahead of schedule. Faine who everyone runs in the ground has been playing solid, Penn steady as usual but lets face it's Freeman's legs and pure strength that cuts down the sack total alone, if we still had Brian Griese back there we would have given up about 5 sacks by now. Overall, i say a "B" for the o-line but not good enough for nick names like"The great wall"- hilarious
  • avatar


    I thought it was funny that Allen had interviewed that he was training in MMA and was ready to take guys down in the second half of games with his conditioning. Has nothing to do with the post but some of these guys are full of themselves.
  • avatar

    Anybody notice who is wearing number 50 in that picture, its Tyrone Mckenzie getting blocked
  • avatar


    Thank you for your excellent insight Chidi. You'll have a tough time convincing some of these posters that any of their ill-conceived notions are .......just wrong. They see a sack and automatically look to which O-lineman had the initial contact in order to place blame. Penn executes a perfect cut block which is to create a passing lane, but Free doesn't throw the ball allowing Allen time to get back up. But some here want to blame Penn. How about blame the receiver who was covered and prevented the throw. They see Trueblood get a penalty last year, declare him a bum, want Dominik to let him go and think the "inactive" James Lee should start. They also think a defensive lineman only had good game if one of his 60 plays in a game was a sack. They don't recognize the impact any other plays had on disrupting the offense. Sometimes I think Scott should change the name of this site to the "Pouter Report" with all of the nay saying and whining that goes on. Any cigars that taste like oatmeal raisin cookies?
  • avatar


    GREAT WALL?? That's WAAAAYYY overblown, IMO!! I am a great fan of oline play and watch every play multiple times watching each olinemen for each play. Yes, they DID play very well in the 2nd half...were even dominant at times. However they were NOT in the first half, nor were they in the first game. Free had forever??? Surely you jest!!! He had good, solid pass blocking, but that's all. Just my opinion.....
  • avatar


    You have to help the line out with solid play calling. Finally Olson had Freeman rolling out some. His T.D. to Benn was on a play action roll, he hit Winslow,and Stocker on a roll, and he picked up a 1st down by keeping the ball on a roll out. The kid throws a great pass on the move, more roll outs, more problems for defenses, more wins for Bucs.
  • avatar


    Am I the only person here that doesn't think that the first sack was Penn's or Freeman's fault? As soon as they replayed the play my reaction was " Great way to get him to the ground Penn, wait ...... WTF was Blount staring at?" "Why didn't he swing his head around looking for free blitzers and helping clean up the top pass rusher?" "Why is he running into the back of Davin Joseph, just watching him block?" Was I the only guy who say this Sunday? If Blount just swings his head around it would've given Freeman 2 more seconds to throw the ball.
  • avatar

    No, it was Freeman's fault. Penn shoved Allen down. That is a quick throw... gone in 2-3 seconds. Freeman didn't release it. Blount is not supposed to be looking at the edges for a rusher in that situation.
  • avatar


    Thank you; you got me thinking that I might be tools hard on the OL. Go BUcs! Get this win! G
  • avatar


    Not giving up a sack by keeping the pocket clean vs requiring Free to scramble, sometimes for his life, are two different things. Over 8 qtrs of football I see a ton of the former, just like last yr, and only spurts of the former. I am a big Chidi fan but this is kind of silly. With more time to throw without being pushed out of the pocket Fee would be much more productive. Free almost got knocked out of the first game for goodness sake, had to come back on the field wearing a spleen protector. Still believe only two of our OLs have a chance to start on another team, the rest would be backups. I felt it should have been a draft day priority this yr, will definitely be next.
  • avatar


    I said a couple weeks ago during preseason that the O-line are pretty good pass protecters. It's their run blocking I'm not sold on yet. The 2nd half of that game doesn't make up for the past 4 years. I do hope that 2nd half was the start of them becoming a consistent pass and run blocking force. Go Bucs!
  • avatar


    They need to run block in the first quarter. Then I will be convinced.
  • avatar

    I am going optimistic and hoping that they are finally hitting their stride after a short offseason, I would agree with a Great Wall for the 2nd half of the Minny game but they need a lot more quaters to live up to that statement IMVHO. GO BUCS!!!
  • avatar


    Finally someone who actually watched the games. The play of the offensive line in the second half was A+. Freeman could have eaten a sandwich before some of his throws. The play in previus six quarters was not that good. I'm not sure what woke them up but as J. Allen said, "They beat the crap out of us in the second half." truth is, personnel wise this is a fine group of largely high draft picks. I'm not ready to call them a "Great Wall." But they did show the potential to get there. Unfortunately, most of the our "fans" only see the team through dark clouds, refusing to give any credit unless they play a perfect game.
  • avatar


    Chidi, I know Raheem thinks statistics are for losers, but 2 sacks count. By the way Donald Penn MISSED his cut block. And, yes, Josh Freeman does hold on to the ball too long.
  • avatar

    Penn didn't miss his cut block. Lynch even talked about it during the replay showing Penn cut Allen. Allen did get back up and run to Free but the pass should have been long gone by then. That sack was on Free.
  • avatar


    drt1066, what game were you watching? Penn nailed the cut block, brought Allen down and gave Freeman the time to make the throw. Freeman did not throw, Allen was up in a heartbeat and had a clear lane to Freeman (since Penn was on the ground from the cut block). I'm sorry, you are wrong.
  • avatar


    Penn got him, no doubt. Allen is just fast and Free held it.
  • avatar


    While I agree that pass pro is likely our O-line's strength, I tend to be on PR's side of this debate, where this is still an average unit overall. Running lanes have been non-existent in both 1st halves and have only been opened for half a game in game #2. Plus, the pass pro's stats is aided greatly by Freeman's elusiveness. This 0-line is built for the comeback, but they look entirely overmatched versus the stouter competition (see W-L record, rushing stats, etc versus winning teams in '10). Hoping for improvement as the season goes on, but I think Chidi is drinking the Kool aid for this opinion piece....
  • avatar


    Chidi, I watched all twelve years of your playing days with the Bucs and I am thrilled that you are doing articles for PR. As you know, in the past our defensive lines were always a bright spot but the same could not be said for the offensive lines. It was upsetting to watch franchise quarterbacks like Steve Young fail with the Bucs because of poor blocking, only to become a superstar with the 49ers, in the case of Young, and Testaverde with the Jets, and so forth. Williams won a superbowl behind the hogs of the Washington Redskins. I appreciate all your insights about our present offensive line. They are our only veteran group on this very young team, and they are the key to future success for our offense with all the outstanding receivers and running backs and Josh Freeman, our franchise QB, that we have now. I would very much like to hear your thoughts, however, on how we can get our excellent offensive line to open holes in the first half of ball games.
  • avatar


    Wow Chidi, I am in your camp on this one. I think the Offensive Line has been a bright spot. Your fellow PR columnists disagree with us and grade the o-line as C- or C+ or barely passing. I think the Detroit Defensive front might be the best in football, and even in the Detroit game, the o-line held up pretty well considering every play was a pass and pass protection is not their strength. Thanks for noticing what I noticed, and knock some sense into Scott and Mark would ya?
  • avatar


    Great Wall?... I think I need new glasses. I'd never judge an OL by 1/4 of their total playing time (second half of Minny game). I'll agree that they looked fine for 25% of their play, but I'm very concerned with the other 75%. I've been disappointed with the run blocking overall... pass protection has been better. I hope Chidi is correct and the line plays well the rest of the year, but I fear Chidi may have had too much Blount in his system when writing this article. Felt like an undeserved fluff piece to me.
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