About the author

Trevor Sikkema

Trevor Sikkema is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat reporter and NFL Draft analyst for PewterReport.com. Sikkema, an alumnus of the University of Florida, has covered both college and professional football for much of his career. As a native of the Sunshine State, when he's not buried in social media, Sikkema can be found out and active, attempting to be the best athlete he never was. Sikkema can be reached at: [email protected]

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37 Comments

  1. 1

    Horse

    Trevor, excellent points. Regardless of what my buddy Scubog says about my push to replace the Center and his back up during the 2016 season, it was obviously the weakest spot on the OL. Marpet is a perfect fit because he is a much more talented player than Hawley or E. Smith. Even Gottschalk was better than those two in 2016 season, but the right move was made by waiting after the 2016 season was over to move Marpet to Center and Sweezy back to his original RG position for the 2017 season. With those to move, I believe we have a much improved OL. Go Bucs!

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    1. 1.1

      Bucnut2

      Horse- I am not counting on Sweezy at all and will be suprised if he makes much of a contribution this year. I am no doctor, but everything I read indicates that back issues are very tricky and sometimes world class athletes are never the same once they have back issues. I LOVE moving ALI to center and am ok with some of the youngsters getting playing time.

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    2. 1.2

      Trevor Sikkema

      Agreed. Moves were made, they just didn’t come in the form of signings.

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    3. 1.3

      scubog

      Does Gottschalk have a job anywhere Horse?

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      1. 1.3.1

        Horse

        Who Cares.

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  2. 2

    fredster

    I’m not convinced O line will be much better but I think Bucs had good draft and you can’t fix everything one year. We are young,moving in right direction and gaining great talent and players. It takes a while to build a winner. It does no good to second guess really. I’m not sold on lot things especially Smith all sudden year 3 turning corner. I’m hoping I’m wrong love to see deep playoff run but I think we aren’t quite there.

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    1. 2.1

      Bucnut2

      I am with everything you said Horse. I don’t see the Bucs making the playoffs let alone a deep run. We have too many holes and JW, while talented, is not elite..yet.

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    2. 2.2

      Bucnut2

      Sorry- meant to say Fredster.

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  3. 3

    Bucnut2

    Trevor- you did a great job of outlining why the Bucs did what they did. I am with you, given the thin FA market and draft for O-line, I think the Bucs did the right thing by betting on the players they have. Hopefully with better weapons and frankly better recognition by Winston, the ball will come out more quicklyexcept on max protect deep shots. Something that never gets mentioned about the o-line is the Winston does tend to hold on to the ball, not knocking him but he does. Well done Trevor!

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    1. 3.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      Right. They’re betting on their guys because they’re not impatient, not because they’re ignorant and didn’t think the O-Line had flaws last year. They did the right thing, even if they have to blow it up next offseason.

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    2. 3.2

      Naplesfan

      The writer isn’t necessarily wrong, Trevor. The Bucs o line didn’t perform well last season, and the Bucs didn’t add any significant new talent to the OL in FA or the draft. So OL is obvious as a perceived weakness this season.

      OTOH, the Bucs did not necessarily scew up by not injecting new talent on the OL. They know their players much better than any media writer, national or local, or us fans.

      That’s why they play the games. Time will tell us if the Bucs screwed up on the OL, ir were brilliantly managing the roster, or something in between. Hoping here that the Bucs turn out to have been brilliant!

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  4. 4

    Mic

    We just need more talent, we should aim for longterm starters all along the line not serviceable/inconsistent Koetter made the same mistake in Atlanta. Watching Prescott play qb behind that line is on easy mode with the amount of time he has. Majority of his throws are the comeback,slants and crossers/checkdown on PA rollout he mainly has 1read and if he needs to read more he has no pressure to make mental errors. If he’s not behind Dallas’line he’s not a ROY candidate

    Patrick Elflein who I think will be a pro bowler in the league can play center/guard draft him in the second and a safety like Tedric Thompson in the third instead of Beckwith would have been a way to improve the line. Relying on fa lineman coming off back surgery is never a solid plan for a starter, don’t be surprised to see our line wear down towards the end of season.

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    1. 4.1

      Trevor Sikkema

      I agree with your thoughts on Elflein. I was shocked he fell to the third.

      They will get more talent after this year if the talent shows not to be there, but other than playing shoulda, woulda, coulda with the draft class (which was great all-in-all), this wasn’t the year to do it.

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  5. 5

    matador

    I’m glad PR is content with Smith waiting until his third season to make the kind of commitment necessary to play well enough to protect his franchise QB’s blind side and keep his job. Would have been nice if he bothered to prepare like a professional last season, instead of disrespecting his teammates. That said I’m encouraged reading about his improved fitness and optimistic it translates to better play on the field.

    Trevor I usually agree with everything you write, yours is the most insightful work on this site by a mile. But no one was posting that we should have chased high priced OL FA’s this year, just that the front office has made the usual rookie admin mistake of underinvesting in the lines in the first few drafts while chasing more ‘exciting’ skill players.

    We have a line full of question marks with little quality depth to fill the inevitable injury holes. Hopefully I’m wrong but we’re betting on virtually every starter playing better/different than they have to date. Fingers crossed but forgive us from being worried.

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    1. 5.1

      Horse

      Matador, based on Licht and Koetter previous comments, they are playing the best five guys they have on the OL and that’s why Marpet was moved to Center and Sweezy moved back to his usual RG position. It’s not a great OL, but we do have the tools at other positions that compensate for it. Just my opinion.

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  6. 6

    fredster

    Agree that’s what I said basically they aren’t there yet.

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  7. 7

    fredster

    Matador I agree and I thought exact same thing when I read he’s losing weight. I mean Winston did it too but Winston didn’t play horribly below average and made the change. To me if Smith isn’t lazy and loves football would made changes before third year…

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  8. 8

    Runole

    The Bleacher report is dead to me and they should be to everyone else with the way they treated Jameis Winston and anyone that supported him. Horrible website that shuts out anyone that doesn’t toe the line with them.

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  9. 9

    Bucnut2

    Guys- please remember that Donovan and most of the guys are 22 year olds. JW is mature beyond his years. not everyone will mature like he has.

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    1. 9.1

      EastEndBoy

      Donovan Smith will be 24 years old in about a week. The average age of 53 man rosters last year (and it’s pretty similar every year) was between 25 and 27. The average age of our OLine will be 27 this year. Basically, our guys are no younger (or older) than any other team’s. Donovan Smith has two full years under his belt and he was fairly awful last year, again. He might be able to pull it all together this year (we all hope), but it would seem he’s on his last chance – age being no factor any more.

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  10. 10

    plopes808

    As I said on another article, people seem to be missing the big picture. Although we didn’t add any new FA or Draft picks, we gained one in Sweezy that we hadn’t had the luxury of using last year. Ali is an upgrade over Hawley and C. Smith has cut down his weight and body fat, which should make him faster…one of his biggest weaknesses was speed so that should improve our LT play. Pamphile has shown improvement over the past few seasons at LG. The only untouched position is RT but with Dotson’s age, I think we address that position next off season

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    1. 10.1

      plopes808

      Let’s also not forget the importance of having a plethora of receiving options. Jameis won’t need to hold the ball nearly as long so the OL won’t have to hold their blocks for extended periods. The addition of Howard will also help as another blocker on the line who doubles as a receiving threat. Jameis must be losing his mind right now thinking of all the different options out there for him in 2017

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      1. 10.1.1

        scubog

        Finally someone gets it.

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  11. 11

    drdneast

    I’m either terribly blind or prejudiced about Donovan Smith because I haven’t seen him as a liability this last two years. A revolving door he was not. Everyone on the Bucs staff knew he was a better run blocker than pass blocker and it would take a couple of years to develop his technique
    If anyone was a liability last year, it was Kevin Pamphile, who kept missing stunts the whole season.
    But it was also Pamphiles first year at guard and it may be his last since he might be moved to right tackle next year if he proves he can hold his own this season.
    The big question mark here is JR Sweezy. If his back holds up and there are as many if not more NFL players who have come back from back surgery, then the line should be fine.
    What the line really missed last year was the leadership, smarts, attitude and play of Logan Mankins. Might have been worth a couple million more in bonus money to keep him around for another year. Money has a way of making players rethink their retirement.

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    1. 11.1

      scubog

      Totally agree with you Dr.D. Sometimes I wonder if some of these folks ever actually go to the game. They read someone’s opinion and right away think it’s fact. Here’s what I saw live and in person regarding our O-line. Center Joe Hawley was getting killed and Panphile was still settling in at guard and as you said, had some difficulty with stunts. Meanwhile, the running game was virtually no threat so teams focused on stopping Mike Evans. This caused Jameis to not have an open receiver quickly enough so he would hold the ball a bit longer waiting to take a chance. Facing the teams top pass rusher at 22 years old in what should have been his senior year at Penn State, Donovan Smith had his share of challenges, but in my view the youngster played well and was not the weak link.

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  12. 12

    fredster

    Pamphile also hasn’t started 3 years in a row like Smih has. He also was what 5th RD pick not 2nd RD like Smith. Not sure why you keep defending Smith Dr. d. He was horrible in pass protection and penalties were horrible too. He needs to improve a lot this year or they will move on I bet.

    I do agree with about Sweezey being one of biggest question marks. Everyone acts like Sweezey will fix everything. Even if his back is 100% and the injury isn’t reagravated, he was not consistent pass blocker and has a full year out of football! So they think he will come back and play better than he did before the injury? Seems like sillly assumption to me.

    Hope I’m wrong and the extra weapons and better run game cover up this less than average O line. Winston has really had to run for his life a lot. Been impressed with his mobility and improv.

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  13. 13

    makski

    I know I am slightly off topic on this one since everybody is talking about the O-line, but enough people have commented on that. My question is about the CB position. I’m confused Trevor, at the end of the article, you suggested that the biggest “miss” by the Bucs might have been at SAM LB or CB. While I completely agree with you on the 2 positions that require more depth, I was confused when you said we would be relying on 2 FIRST year starters?? Is Ryan Smith actually going to be starting at CB?? I thought that Grimes and Hargraves were definitely still the starters. Thought that Smith was going to be the back-up at both outside positions in case of poor play or injury. I also didn’t think he was a candidate to play in the slot either with Barimah and Elliott still here with some experience last year and the addition of McClain with prior NFL slot experience. Can you please clarify for me?? Or is this really a battle that Smith can win over Grimes/Hargraves??

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  14. 14

    BucWild02

    Offensive line seems to be what most fans and national writers think will be the reason Tampa finishes last in the NFC South or why they won’t make the playoffs, but I ask you this:

    Can you name two starting offensive linemen from each SuperBowl team from last year? NO GOOGLING!

    The reality is the offensive line in Dallas is rare and doesn’t guarantee you anything. They got smashed by Atlanta in the playoffs. Atlanta and New England have had a revolving door on the O-line and have still been very good. Scheme, play calling and most importantly execution by players are what determines wins and losses, not the pedigree of the offensive linemen.

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  15. 15

    kram0789

    The weakest spot on the OL is right tackle Demar Dotson. He has been oft injured the last two years and it has shown up in his play even when he is healthy. He is regressing and will probably be injured again this year. Chain reaction. We move Pamphile to RT and who to LG? That will put stress on Smith and Marpet to make up for the new guy. Can Pamphile even play RT? He has only been below average at LG. The Bucs could have drafted an OL instead of Godwin. And yes, I know that would not fix the OL this year, but it at least would get us some better talent for the future. And yes, I know Godwin may turn out to be really good, but with Humphries and OJ we did not need to draft another receiver this year. The Bucs are making a huge gamble that this OL group will get better this year. The price of that gamble failing may get Winston injured.
    .

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  16. 16

    Naplesfan

    Trevor, the writer is not obviously wrong in saying the Bucs screwed up by not adding any significant talent to an OL that underperformed last season And the Bucs are not obviously wrong for standing pat on the OL this season. They know their own players far better than any national or local media writer, or us fans.

    That’s why they play the games. The proof will eventually show that the Bucs either screwed up on the OL, or the Bucs were brilliant in managing their roster this year … or something in between .

    I hope that it turns out the Bucs have been brilliant!

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    1. 16.1

      kram0789

      Me too.

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  17. 17

    RootsCrew

    I’m cautiously optimistic about the OL this season. On paper they should be better unit than last season. They didn’t make any big moves but they did upgrade from within. There are a lot of “IF” factors though.
    -IF Marpet can succeed at C
    -IF Sweezy can come back and be productive at RG & be better in pass pro
    -IF Smith can put it all together at LT and be less of a liability
    -IF Dot can stay healthy and not regress

    Every position group has question marks to start a season, but I feel the OL has the most to answer this season. The addition of DJax, Godwin, OJ and any semblance of a run game should help them out as they won’t be forced to hold blocks while routes develop. Dirk can also help them by mixing up his play calls with quicker route combinations. I think we’ll know what we have after facing Vikings, Giants, Pats, & Cards defenses. Fingers crossed.

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  18. 18

    AlexanderNascimento

    Great piece, Trevor!
    Congrats!

    I really like your ideas and way of putting them out.

    Keep up!

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    1. 18.1

      AlexanderNascimento

      Keep *it* up!

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  19. 19

    WiltheBrewer

    Well, the OL did have a drop-off from the year before when the Bucs had the #2 rusher in the NFL and one of the best 1-2 running combos in the league, + having Winston pass for 4,000+ yds… The coaches know the talent with which they are working, and I’m sure if they had serious concerns about the talent they would’ve drafted accordingly- like not trading up for Beckwith, for example.
    I DO think that there is a lot w/ the OL that can go either way this season, so we shall see. I have faith that the new weapons on Offense will help.the line out quite a bit

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  20. 20

    drdneast

    fredster, Donovan Smith has played two professional seasons, not three.
    And if you look at the players with the most penalties on each team it is usually one or the other OT. Big surprise.
    Better to hold than seeing the QB planted in the soil like a potato.
    Good post RootsCrew.
    I remember in 2015 when there was also a lot of questions being raised about the OL because they had two rookies starting yet they seemed to have done pretty well and set a team record for offense I believe.
    Scubog, I’m with you. A lot of these armchair GMs read a rookie scouting report or a PFF summary and spit it out verbatim like they own it. It’s really so sad.

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  21. 21

    Alldaway 2.0

    Good o-lines make ordinary back look better than they are. The truth is Rodgers and Barber are ordinary backs and didn’t have much help from the Bucs o-line last year. Pamphille was the only one that graded out as a road grader.

    Bucs o-line in pass pro is suspect at both tackle spots. But D. Smith did outplay D. Dotson last year and it showed.

    My gut feeling is this:

    Marpet is going to be a stud at OC.
    Sweazy will be serviceable at RG.
    Pamphille will improve his pass pro at LG and continue to be a road grader now that he is next to Marpet.
    D. Smith will have a better kick stand and not be as fatigued during games. So less fatigue will mean less holding calls, and D. Smith pass pro improves.
    D. Dotson returns to form in pass pro but is ho hum as a run blocker.

    RT is going to be #1 priority to upgrade unless they can convince Pamphille to re-sign with the team (IF that happens), IF Wester improves, and/or Benonch improves (another big if).

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