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.