Two playoff games.

Zero sacks allowed.

That’s a big reason why Tom Brady and the New England Patriots are in another Super Bowl.

The last team to make it to the Super Bowl without giving up a sack in the playoffs? You guessed it.

The Patriots in 2003.

Here’s another fun fact. Drew Brees and Trent Dilfer have the same number of Super Bowl rings. One.

Which is one more than Dan Marino, Jim Kelly and a few other Hall of Fame quarterbacks have.

Saints QB Drew Brees – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

There is no question that having a dynamic, playmaking quarterback is a huge part of reaching the postseason and winning championships. But, protecting your quarterback is just as important. Maybe even more so.

As far as the least amount of sacks allowed in the 2018 regular season, seven of those teams made the playoffs. That’s 70 percent.

And of the Top 10 rushing teams in the NFL this season, six of those teams were in the postseason, including the Patriots (fifth, 2,037 yards) and the Los Angles Rams (third, 2,231 yards), who will face off on Sunday.

The Buccaneers were ranked 29th in rushing last season, and ranked 16th in the number of sacks allowed. That stat could have been worse if not for the ability of Jameis Winston to escape sacks and even Ryan Fitzpatrick to a degree. And while 16th is middle of the road, they were the fifth worst team in the NFL in giving up quarterback hits (109).

The bottom line is, the Bucs can acquire all the skill position players they want, could raise Johnny Unitas from the grave and put him under center, but until they can run the football and protect the passer, getting into the playoffs will be a difficult task. New Tampa Bay head coach Bruce Arians said that the offensive line was an area that needed to be upgraded in speaking with the media after his initial press conference on January 10.

Bruce Arians – Photo by Cliff Welch/PR

“I think offensive line, looking outside in, is an area we need to work on,” Arians said. “Some guys that have talent need to get better and more consistent.”

Tampa Bay’s 2018 offensive line was underwhelming to say the least, and a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The weak link in the Bucs line was without question right guard. Caleb Benenoch was really bad, and what does that say about rookie Alex Cappa, the team’s third-round pick, that despite Benenoch’s poor play, he couldn’t beat him out for the starting role by the middle of the season?

Center Ryan Jensen, who was signed to a huge contract that makes him the league’s highest-paid center at $10.5 million per year, graded out decently, at least in the eyes of the organization, and left guard Ali Marpet, who received a big contract extension at the start of the season, was as solid of a guard as you will find in the NFL. That’s quite remarkable since he was playing his third different position in the last three seasons.

The tackle positions were a point of much frustration at times for fans and the team alike.

Right tackle Demar Dotson, who is rapidly approaching half-price coffee age at McDonald’s, (he’ll be 34 in October), was adequate in pass protection, but struggled at times with his run blocks. Coming off knee surgery in the offseason, he may have still been feeling the effect of not being 100 percent healthy. Of course we also don’t know if some of that was communication issues playing next to Benenoch.

Bucs LT Donovan Smith
Bucs LT Donovan Smith – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The poster child for the fan’s frustrations was left tackle Donovan Smith. While the turnstile duo of Benenoch/Cappa was clearly the biggest issue, fans – and the media – gave Smith a pretty hard time most of the season. PewterReport.com had Smith on its post-game Most Disappointing lists many times last season, and rightfully so with occasional mental lapses and mistakes.

The biggest frustration with Smith was is that he is not playing up to his full potential, evidenced by the fact that he gave up a career-high 6.5 sacks last season in a contract year. Smith has enough quickness to be an effective pass protector, plus the size and strength to swallow up defensive ends and pave holes for the running game. He can be dominant at times, then look lackadaisical at other times.

Playing left tackle in the NFL is quite difficult, but Smith frustrates many with his perceived laziness at times. And at that position, if a tackle takes a few plays off, or gets sloppy with his technique bad things are going to happen. Bucs fans and the team would love to see a nastier and more consistent Smith in 2019.

And yet, while this fact may drive some fans crazy, Smith isn’t going anywhere this year. The organization knows that quality left tackles are extremely hard to find. It would be hard to say that any left tackle in this year’s draft, in which the quality is below average at the position, would play better as a rookie than Smith will in his fifth year. And do the Bucs trust a rookie to protect the blind side of a player the the team is hoping becomes a franchise quarterback in his contract year? Smith will be back in 2019 with at least the franchise tag – if not a contract extension.

So how does Tampa Bay’s offensive line get better under Arians?

Bucs OL coach George Warhop
Bucs OL coach George Warhop – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR

The first hope is coaching. Former offensive line coach George Warhop was not a good talent evaluator to begin with and didn’t do a good job of developing the players the team acquired through free agency and the draft outside of Marpet and – to a degree – Smith. Let’s not forget that Warhop also held the title of run game coordinator as well under Dirk Koetter, and being ranked 29th in the league in rushing is a damning statistic.

Joe Gilbert now takes over an offensive line that needs a new voice in their ear along with a new philosophy and new leadership. New run game coordinator Harold Goodwin will work with Gilbert and oversee the offensive line, and also be a part of the hoped revitalization in 2019 and beyond.

The Bucs will also need to add more talent, even if the coaching is an upgrade. This draft isn’t very good or deep with offensive tackle talent, especially on the left side, but there are a number of interior offensive linemen Tampa Bay could choose from to add to the unit. Particularly at guard, with names like Boston College guard Chris Lindstrom, who is featured in PewterReport.com’s latest 2019 Bucs’ 6-Round Mock Draft, Oklahoma’s Ben Powers and Wisconsin’s Michael Deiter and Ben Benzshawel. Then there are some players that played tackle in college that might end up being guards in the pros, like Kansas State’s Dalton Risner.

In free agency, the pickings are slim outside of New England left tackle Trent Brown, but he is expected to re-sign with the Patriots. Keep an eye out for former 49ers and Cardinals guard Mike Iupati, who is slated to become a free agent. While he isn’t a long-term solution due to his age (31) and injury history, he could be a veteran stop-gap player while a draft pick is groomed, and other players like Cappa are developed.

Guard Mike Iupati
Guard Mike Iupati – Photo by: Getty Images

At the end of the day, football is a pretty simple game. The team that block and tackle the best tend to win more games in the NFL. The Bucs defense, led by Todd Bowles is expected to significantly improve, and on the offensive side of the ball, the big question mark is how this O-line will shape up.

Tampa Bay will have to forge a better running game and do a much better job protecting Winston up front. If you don’t think that’s important, just ask Brady and the Patriots.

Previous articleWinston Says Arians Was His First Choice
Next articleWhere Were You When The Bucs Won The Super Bowl?
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 [email protected]

58 COMMENTS

  1. Great article mark, spot on. Although according to some in here its ALL on the qb, looking at you buc ass. And some are under the illusion that we’ve magically had a good running game the past few years. We’ve had neither along with a bad defense. This online was swiss cheese last year and if fitz and jameis did t have good mobility, it qouldve been even worse! Fix the trenches!

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  2. Hear, hear… Not having a single OT in the mock draft leads me to believe that you’re not on the same page with the rest of the PR gents?

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  3. Mark Cook is right, it begins up front and the success of the relationship between Arians/Winston is going to depend on the run game and the QB staying upright.

    I have come to terms with Donovan Smith getting another year. There are no real good alternatives other than 7th round OT Trent Brown who will surely re-sign with the Patriots. And they are not far apart when graded out by PFF. They are both graded as above average – Brown at 70.6 and Smith at 66.4. The most likely offer given the cap situation at the Bucs is the transition tag at 12.1mil where the Bucs would have the right to match another offer.

    I also agree that Mike Iupati could be a 1 year stop gap at guard. He should be available as he is an UFA coming off IR and a 1yr contract at 3.7mil. The Bucs traded for 32yr old OG Logan Mankins in 2014 and that worked out well. Iupati does not bring the leadership of a Mankins, but is a solid OG if he can stay healthy. Now Iupati is a left guard so it may mean a move back to right guard for Ali Marpet which I thought was his best position anyway.

    None of this solves the O-Line problem long-term, so the Buc O-Line coaching staff led by Harold Goodwin must decide if they have the talent in-house to develop or they must draft talent as it typically takes 2 years to develop a consistent and reliable offensive lineman. Go Bucs!

    https://www.revengeofthebirds.com/2018/12/5/18127390/mike-iupati-on-injured-reserve-likely-means-his-time-in-arizona-cardinals-is-done

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  4. Mark: Great article about the importance of the offensive line and having a strong rushing attack.

    The talent is here. They just need to be more disciplined and accountable at the tackle positions. Benenoch was the weakest link on the line, but the guy was cross trained to every position on the line. That was a recipe for failure. Same with Cappa. Put him at one spot and maximize all effort at that one spot. What wasn’t mentioned in the article regarding New England’s OL, is that they don’t play musical chairs. Logan Mankins played one place only. If they had drafted Marpet, they would have put him at one spot and let him just continue to get better at that spot.

    I believe cross training most of the guys up front leads to assignment confusion and a “Jack of all trades, master of none” offensive line.

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    • I have to agree with you there. I would not write off any of the current players including Benenoch that was coached under the Koetter regime. These players have to be put in the position where they can succeed and not fail, Koetter and Mike Smith had no clue of how to manage players. Evidenced by how well the coordinators did with the exact same players.

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  5. Not sure why youre confident Smith will be back. No way they pay him on a franchise tag imo. And definitely no way they go long term. Veldheeer is out there and much better than Smith and would come cheaper. He has already played under Arians. If they dont sign a LT in free agency i see them going LT in first round. And to say Jawaan Taylor, Greg Little or even Jonah Williams wouldnt be an instant upgrade would also be off imo. Arians has strongly hinted the Oline will look much different. If smith is still here I’d be shocked. The tape doesnt lie. These guys want effort and they should. The old bucs mindset is gone. I definitely disagree with you on this one. Cant wait to find out

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  6. Totally true BucWild02! Warhop blew Cappa’s development by insisting he learn Center first when he had veteran Center/Guard Evan Smith sitting on the bench. BA doesn’t want slackers and that is exactly what D. Smith is and if he leaves him playing LT and paying him high money he will be worse (then BA will want to cut him) he will also still let speed rushers go right around him or he will grab them and stop drives with 15 yard penalties, which means we will not make it to the playoffs. Much better to let the stupid teams who want Turnstyle Smith to pay for him in giving us a good draft pick for him. Then draft a top LT after moving down a few spots. Now if the new LT after expert development by our new OL Coach isn’t better than Smith, then if BA will also look at the two Preseason Games where Liedtke in his first try at playing LT played brilliantly and didn’t yield a single sack; he will see that should ease any worries BA should have with a top LT from the draft. He will be able to put in Liedtke while continuing to develop the high LT pick til he can take over. Now when D. Smith was being whipped often by speed rushers they were racing around him in less than three seconds and instantly pressuring Jameis. Take a stopwatch and time it yourself from 2018 film. You will see it had zero to do with Jameis holding the ball too long. What you also will see is that Jameis would have been sacked a lot more times but for his outstanding quick reflexes to avoid sacks. His ability to keep plays alive while under pressure is an amazing talent he has that has probably cut in half the number of sacks allowed by D. Smith otherwise. Also, BA also likes to go for the long ball too, which is why he wanted to keep Jackson, so he would make a big mistake if he tries to keep D. Smith!

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    • Like his nonchalantly rolling out against Dallas and being completely AFRAID to run for the 4 yards in front of him allowing a strip sack fumble return for a 60 yard TD by Jaylen Smith? That kind of “ elusive running” ?? That’s one thing Jameis DOES NOT DO!!! And it kills us often!! The shoulder injury in 17’ and some hits he’s taken has him afraid. I thought he overcame it when he scrambled around for a nice play vs Cle inside their 20. However he does NOT use his legs like he should. Today’s game , you need a QB who can use his legs so on key 3rd n 3 type plays he can roll out with option to throw or take it himself. Goff , Dak, R.Wilson etc all have that element.

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      • Goff is 100% pocket QB and Winston was drafted for the same quality. Square peg/Round hole thing, why ask your QB to run when he’s better in the pocket.

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        • Sky , not sure what bucs games you have been watching but Winston is not a pocket passer. He lacks the ability to make all the throws needed to be a pocket passer. He is much better when he scrambles and gets outside of the pocket. That’s where his best plays have come from.

          http://www.espn.com/blog/tampa-bay-buccaneers/post/_/id/14959/numbers-show-jameis-winston-better-outside-pocket-with-play-action

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        • There is ZERO excuse to not pick up the first down when all you have to do is use your legs and get it. Should I post the broadcast? Then we can all hear Aikman in disbelief not understand why he just didn’t use his legs and pick up the first. He was shocked he didn’t just run 4 yards and get a fresh set of downs. Goff always gets a play call where he’s on the move and has option to use his legs. He even stated so after the Saints game on a key naked bootleg pass play into the end zone. I’m not saying be Vick but can’t act like he’s got Brady mobility. Certain analysts stress weekly the possibility of picking up yards with your legs can not be overstated enough!!

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  7. Donovan Smith is a cancer. Theres nothing worse to have in the locker room than a lazy player. He needs to go.

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    • Imperfect? Sure. But Lazy? Dude played in 64 straight games, over 99% of all offensive snaps. Name me one single player besides him that did that.

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      • Bucwild. Just because he was in the field doesn’t mean he was putting any effort into the play. He takes off plays all the time. I would rather have him play 70 percent of the snaps and give 100 percebt effort than play 99 percent of the snaps and give 70 percent effort which he does.

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  8. Then let’s not get giddy over defensive picks in the first round. This happens every year – Tampa chases the shiny object and underinvests in the trenches. I get the Jameis Winston, Mike Evans, and OJ Howard picks but this Oline has been suspect going back to even before Winston was drafted. That will solve a lot of problems. I am optimistic that a new coaching staff will coach up our Oline and defensive players, because it can’t get much worse than what we have seen last year. Coaching makes more of a difference in Football than any other sport – and the rock star group that has been assembled brings real optimism.

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    • Offense ranked 3rd. Defense ranked 29th. It’s easy to see why the shiny objects are on defense, especially with a scheme change.

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      • I guess you missed the chunk of the season where Jameis and Fitz didn’t have time to throw and our bell cow didn’t even get 900 yards.

        Which side of the ball do you think had worse luck with injuries last year? Which side of the ball was most deficient in coaching?

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        • Good points about injuries and coaching. Personally, I’m just ready to see some ass kickers on defense.

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        • To answer your question both. Can’t ask your QB to take seven step drops on nearly every snap and expect any Oline hold that long. It was a feast or famine scheme and it failed regardless of our offensive rankings.

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      • Actually if you watched week 3 big Thursday Night game vs Pittsburgh. Dotson helping the RG on a 3 man front allowing TJ Watt to rush untouched caused a batted ball up in the air that Pitt cane down with at the 1 yard line.Then Jensen got thrown into Fitzpatrick lap before he could step and throw from our own end zone causing a higher throw because he couldn’t follow through, that was a pick 6. Both plays BLATANTLY ON THE OLINE!!

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  9. Why is Trent Brown expected to sign back with the Pats? As I understand it, they have their injured LT coming back next year, and when has N.E. ever paid anyone not named Brady top dollar? If Brown is a FA I’d rather see the Bucs sign him over Smith. Paying Smith like a franchise tackle won’t make him play like one, it’ll only make him be paid like one. I also wouldn’t say that J. Williams as a rookie wouldn’t out play Smith just because he’s a rookie. Q. Nelson made the pro bowl, and all pro as a rookie, as compared to the over hyped Ali Marpet, who played at the same RG position as Nelson. He’s a four year vet, but didn’t come close to the rookie Nelson in making the pro bowl. So let’s stop this nonsense that we have no better choice then to over pay Smith.

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    • Jonah Williams is projected to be a guard at the next level due to his short arms. Drafting Jonah solves no problems.

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      • Built like Ramcyzk, so I agree on the short arms but not regarding guard technique. He plays well in space. J Williams will play tackle, but most likely right tackle for the first few seasons. Top 10 pick for a short armed right tackle is a tough pill to swallow for many but if it locks down a position of need for 10+ seasons, I’m ok with it. Wouldn’t do back flips but I wouldn’t cry either.

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    • Brown stood out a lot in that AFC title game. It was NE O-Line performance that solidified just what you need to win in this league, and won that game for them.Cold weather games are in late January .In order for TB to go into Chi, Phi, Min …a dominant off line is needed. I also believe it’s the middle that’s most important. QBs HATE pressure up the middle in their face. The edge atleast allows them to roll to one side.With the quick 3 step drops and quick release routes and a lot of underneath stuff , 10-15 yard ins and TE seam routes . QB have to step into their throw.The great ones only struggle when it’s constantly coming up the middle.

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  10. Excuse me, LG.

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  11. Smith will most likely be back,can’t say I’m too happy about it unless he turns his play around, but I think I would rather tag him and then select ot (Jonah Williams maybe) then have them compete for LT. We can only go as far as Winston will take us so we must protect him and give the running game some opened lanes. I’d much rather tag smith for a lot of money for one year than to risk signing him long term after seeing him last year. Not sure if Donovan smith will suddenly have a fire lit under him but maybe Arians can do that, that’s what I’m hoping for.

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  12. For what it’s worth Mark, I’m not sure the momentum is aligned with you when you say, “This draft isn’t very good or deep with offensive tackle talent, especially on the left side”.

    I’m reading more and more about how this could well be the best OT draft in a decade. With perhaps as many as 4 or 5 first round talents.

    Why are you so down on these guys?

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    • Deep defensive tackle draft.

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  13. Love the photo used for this Article. Panthers everywhere, Fitz running for his life, and Benonoch looking like he is waiting for the bus.

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    • Benenoch lookin like he’s lost at sea as usual.

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  14. The changes have to mostly come from coaching, scheme changes, too many holes to fill on our 32nd rank D.

    But what do I know, it wasn’t like predicted our 2018 record in preseason, when most of you were drinking the Kool-aid, oh that’s right I did.

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  15. If he doesn’t rate out well with the new coach what makes you think he’s going to be back? Did Smith do anything to earn this kind of upper tier LOT money? Haven’t we learned our lesson yet about overpaying for players who are not worthy to be overpaid?

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    • Not criticising your comment, simply pointing out that if anyone is “overpaid” they’re not worth it. Otherwise, they are getting paid what they’re worth

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  16. We, Buc fans, are getting much to worked up over what is at this point pure conjecture and hypotheses. And I’m as guilty as anyone. But bottom line, we really know very little about what the Bucs will do on offense or defense.

    We have heard from website analysts or even listened to Bucs coaches on interviews that have to my knowledge, not called one player by name. We may infer as I have done on occasion as to what or who may be affected, but nothing that one could have with any degree of certainty.

    Keep in mind that all the O-Line talent that was on display in the Senior Bowl, not one Buc coach attended. They were all at OBP watching film of the players we have now – trying to determine who we keep and at what value. FO people attended but make of that what you will.

    They will certainly attend the NFL combine on Feb 26th – March 4th following which they schedule up to 30 player visits and attend selected player workouts and pro days. March 13th is the first day of the 2019 League Year and Free Agency begins at 4:00pm EST. When these events have transpired, only then will we begin to get a clearer picture (still not certain) of what the Bucs are likely to do on offense or defense.

    In the meantime, have fun prognosticating on what our 2019 Bucs team will look like, but try to have fun as your guesses like mine are probably not even close. Keep in mind there are likely to be some surprises. Last time I checked, Jason Licht still has total control of the 53 roster as I’ve not been told otherwise. Go Bucs!

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    • Always love your posts macabee. So rational and well thought out. No bias. No agenda. Only facts and stated opinions making a logical point of view. You even inject a bit of humor on occasion. Wish you were a neighbor.

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      • Good Morning Scub! I would love to have been your neighbor. I could imagine many Home Improvement moments over the backyard fence regarding our infamous Bucs. Hope you have a great Super Bowl day. Go Bucs!

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    • Macabee, well said.

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  17. Two things on this article:

    1) If “Jensen graded out decently, at least in the eyes of the organization”, then we clearly have a systemic bias issue or a massive blind-spot in our self-scouting department that needs fixing.

    Licht paid Jensen the most money in the league (the highest Center number on the books in 2018) to put out a 54.9 PFF grade (60 is par…not good…”as expected”) and a 51.1 PFF grade in the running game. And that grade went up in the last 4-5 weeks as it was barely 50. And that grade is absolutely correct (and possibly even a little generous in his Pass Protection grade)

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    • Hmm…it auto-posted my comment before I hit “Post Comment.”

      2) Donovan Smith’s issued isn’t a “percieved laziness”. Its a real laziness. Greg Little in this year’s draft is a carbon copy of Donovan (though a little smaller). An athletic big man whose play variance is extreme (due to effort volatility and hand striking technique) from play to play and who is completely content with just occupying defenders in the running game with regularity. Guys that size and with that athleticism SHOULD NEVER HAVE THEIR FEET STOP MOVING IN THE RUN GAME. They should be setting the tone and BURYING GUYS. Football is contagious. When OL stand around on pass pro and don’t look for extra work when they’re uncovered…or stand near piles watching in the running game…or don’t finish their blocks….

      Its contagious…in the worst way possible.

      You don’t want those guys on your team, not just because of their own play…but because it infects those around them (and even the other side of the ball…just as the inverse does…its no coincidence that the Colts OL is suddenly enormously physcial and burying people regularly and suddenly the defense is pursuing and hitting and rallying to the ball like crazy…right when Quentin Nelson is picked and is killing guys and running through every pile and running to pick up his downfield teammates every single time a run is broken off or a WR catches a pass…contagious).

      Oh and 50+ Pressures allowed every single year in the league is another reason why you don’t want him…not “frustration with perceived laziness.”

      But, just like we’re stuck with Jensen’s outrageous guaranteed number next year (and it will cost us in actually productive players, retaining and/or hiring), we’re almost surely stuck with franchising DSmith for 14.5-ish in 2019 so we can go BPA in the first round and not reach for an OT (with the first picks being so top-heavy with great DL talent and CB Greedy Williams).

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    • Don’t forget lead the league in holding calls and personal fouls!! So AGAIN the fact we can read the organization was happy with OVERPAYING a player who did not earn his $$ .Shows again just how huge of an IDIOT we have heading up a group of apparently more idiots.Only reason this GM is around is to bring in a coach who likes “ vertical” passing game , which fans complained about weekly!! So now vertical is ok? No YAC routes, quick strike underneath stuff that was being called for is ok, because Arians “ likes” our QB? No wonder we are the new Browns.

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  18. Nice to see Mark publishing what the board has been saying for the last three years st least, with Scott denying it all the way.

    The talent is not here. Ben is terrible and Cappa was apparently worse. That tells you we don’t have a OG worth a damn not named Marpet.

    Smith’s inconsistency and lack of follow through during plays is crystal clear. Expecting the light bulb to come on and stay on when it didn’t in a contract year seems highly unlikely.

    If Dot was a few years younger I’d be okay with him but he’s not. And Jensen is overpaid and doesn’t have his head screwed on. BA may be able to fix that, but he can’t fix the contract.

    As the Wendy’s commercial used to say, Where’s the beef? Not at OBP. Draft the lines early and often, it’s year six already!

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    • Nice to see so many Bucs fans with a brain. It’s been ONCE in 11 yrs and I’d bet 80% of fans who say we had a “ great draft” every yr don’t realize our neglect of OL. Id rather take J . Williams who is a 10 yr starter at G or RT than Greedy Williams whos Morris Claiborne- or Ed Oliver whos Gaines Adams- Every year our drafts are C+ D- The #3 TE avg 55 ypg the 20th? 40 ypg! So 70% of the leagues TEs give modest production. Yes Howard’s a pro bowl talent. However why pay Brate 7/8 Mil? Pitt Steelers last 4 #1 targets all picked day 2! TE are there in 3-5 , RBs are 2-3 rds . Yes there’s exceptions of course but Humphries was not drafted. Edelman? Wes Walker? Antonio Brown? Ju Ju, Sanu, we have the “ special #1 in Evans, our AJ Green, Julio Jones, Michael Thomas “ we don’t pay tons for WR3! Or TE2! Just don’t . You take top trench studs and solid cbs/lbs that standout. Simple… use FA on areas that are not strong in the draft class. Or solid vets.Smart though , not rotational bums top dollar ( Jensen) ( Vinnie Curry) ( Gholdston) ( Ayers) etc.

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      • You’re equating Ed Oliver to Gaines Adams?! That’s pretty damn funny, I’m sure I’m not the only one who thinks so

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        • Agreed. There’s no way you compare Ed Oliver to gains Adams. That’s just trying too hard to fit a point in. Heck, I’d take Ed Oliver over paying McCoy 13mil this year for his 3/4 sacks a year. Guess what, it’s an offensive league, but good coaching and defense won the super bowl last night.

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          • But I agree with most that we need a major upgrade on our offensive line, just had a laugh over the Gaines Adams comparison

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        • My point , he’s not a HOF lock. There’s a lot of mixed reviews on Oliver right now. Apparently somebody thought Gaines Adams would be some sort of “ ok” player. I didn’t know teams take guys 4th that they know ahead of time will suck. This inconsistent RG situation would be very satisfying relief knowing we have a SOLID STARTER ( Ali Marpet level)there and not an area of stressing where and how to fix it for next 7-8 yrs . Instead of VHIII 2.0 or Booger McFarland 2.0 .Thats all I’m saying.

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  19. Maybe next year on Super Bowl Sunday we’ll be, at the very least, rehashing the woulda, coulda, shoulda of a playoff game or two instead of seeking blame for yet another lousy season. We sure have a lot of culprits from which to choose for the team’s many woes. Here the focus is on the O-line. Now there’s a target on which most can agree, as most see only Ali Marpet as the one player worthy of praise. Hard to argue.

    Many want to cite PFF and other data collector sites to find proof of their point. Me, I rely on what I observe sitting in the stands or watching my big ass TV. Having never missed a Bucs game in 40+ seasons, I have seen my share of disastrous O-line play. Since Jason Licht and two coaching staffs arrived it hasn’t improved much, even though it has been in constant flux.

    Want a reason for the O-line giving up a lot of sacks? Dirk Koetter passed the ball way too much. Want another one? The passes were rarely those little dump-offs to guys like the Patriots James White so the ball was held just a bit longer waiting for the receivers to clear or finish the route. How about a third? The Defense allowed the opponents to nearly score at will, rarely even having to punt, putting the Offense in an obvious passing situations. And that’s not even mentioning the missed FG’s and PAT’s that would demoralize the team and us fans.

    Want a reason for the lack of running game? Again, Dirk Koetter passed the ball way too much. Want another one? Mediocre running back talent. How ROJO looked so bad is a mystery to me. How about a third? Again, the Defense allowed the opponents to nearly score at will, rarely even having to punt, putting the Offense in an obvious passing situation. Not sure whether we couldn’t run the ball or wouldn’t run the ball. In any event, the opponent sure wasn’t concerned about it.

    Other than the first two games in 2018 when the Bucs surprised the Saints, Eagles and us; every game the past two seasons was the same thing. Every game the O-line was put in a more difficult situation than it should have been. Throw in the fact that for two years we have shuffled the interior positions and dealt with Dot’s injuries. Only the much maligned, and also dealing with injury, Donovan Smith has lined up in the same spot. And this with a group that needs to develop cohesiveness to be successful.

    So, is the problem the situation, the players themselves or the coaching? I contend and hope that there is sufficient talent with which new coaching can mold and salvage. I contend that the anticipated defensive improvement will result in less dependence on the passing game and an increased willingness to run the ball more. I contend that a RB in the mold of Alvin Kamara, James White or even or own Warrick Dunn, who can serve as an effective outlet, will help. I contend that a more varied game plan, including play action passing, will help the O-line and not allow the defenders to, as they say, “pin their ears back”.

    From my novice observations here is what I think about our group of offensive linemen:

    LT-Donovan Smith-Not Paul Gruber, but no Kenyatta Walker or Charles McRae either. Still very young, a bit immature. Salvageable. He’ll play fine for 65 plays then seem like he fell asleep at the wheel and ran into a tree. Hopefully this coaching staff and not a different team, can wake him up.

    LG-Ali Marpet-Good, but not yet great. Will be better if he can remain at one spot. Good enough.

    OC-Ryan Jensen-I think Licht brought him here to improve the unit’s toughness. Too bad his displays occurred too frequently after the play. Perhaps he tried too hard to prove himself to his new team. Good enough.

    RG-Caleb Benenoch/Alex Cappa/Cole Boozer/Evan Smith-For what seems like eons, we have been unable to plant someone at this position and leave him there. Another reason for the ineffectual running games. Most run right. Not sure if any of the youngsters can be groomed for the spot, but for me, I want a mauling, road grader which none of the candidates appear to be. Should be able to improve this very weak position in either the Draft or F/A. Help!

    RT-Demar Dotson-Injuries and age have caught up with Big Dot. He really struggles at times, and at 6′-9″ can’t bend. Seems to have difficulty moving laterally as he once did. It’s time to move on from him. There appears to be a few RT prospects in the Draft, but the 5 spot is too high for a RT. Leonard Wester, and the other wanabees aren’t the answer. I’m hesitant to bring in a F/A due to our past failures. Help!

    Thankfully, we have a fresh set of eyes evaluating this group and ultimately coaching them. Sadly, upgrading the O-line won’t fix the Defense or the kicking game.

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    • Mic Dropped!

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    • Good thoughts.

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  20. Mark, thanks for this article. FINALLY – someone at PR has figured out that football starts in the trenches.

    If we draft a RB, WR, TE, FB, K, P, LS – I’ll shoot myself. Each of the first three or four rounds we need to pick the best lineman available – period. Sprinkle in LB’s, CB’s, S’s.

    Regrading the current roster, I’ll add my take of keepers to the board.
    Off. – Marpet, Jensen. – Move on: D. Smith – is who he is. Pay him more and you’ll waste both time, money.
    Def. – JPP, Vea, Nassib. – Move on: GMC – time has passed.

    No need to trash the rest. Big ticket guys need to get renegotiated or moved out. Young guys will be evaluated to determine whether they can be coached up.

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  21. Offensive linemen often take time to develop but Quenton Nelson made an immediate impact in Indy, the Bucs should use their top pick on Jonah Williams, one of the few (the only?) plug and play OT’s in the draft.

    Regarding Donovan Smith, the Bucs owe themselves the opportunity to see if the new coaching staff can turn him around.

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  22. In round two, the Bucs should double down on the OL and take Jawaan Taylor, he and Jonah Williams could make holes big enough that even Ronald Jones II could run through.

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    • Most mock drafts and draft boards I’ve seen have Jawaan Taylor gone no later than 27th

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      • Yeah, Taylor is rising up draft boards so he probably won’t be available for the Bucs in Round 2, but the Bucs have most of the offensive weapons they need and, hopefully, the big investment they made on defense in last year’s draft will pay dividends next season which will free them up to spend at least two high picks on the O-line this year.

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  23. Agree 100% this is the biggest concern and it needs to be fixed this year period. It will not matter who the QB is unless it is fixed. Some games you pass more or use it to set up run. You have to be balanced and have run game though! Will not be successfull consistent offense until this O line is better! Then and only then if Winston doesn’t play great I will say perhaps he isn’t the answer. I still think he has matured and is ready to play at high level with a real head coach, o line and at least average defense.

    Also Agree with post above it’s not “perception”about Smith being lazy he is lazy. Go watch tape on some downs he is moving in slow motion it seems and others looks good that tells me talent isn’t the issue. Heart and hunger are! He’s been given enough time to prove himself but now will have new and hopefully better coaching so will see if they keep him. I understand the case for keeping him, but the money is too much for an average underachieving LT IMO. Do I trust a rookie to protect Winston? Yes possibly depending who they select, there have been number of O line drafted 1st rd and started immediately and played fine. Do I trust Smith to protect him? No he almost got him killed and blind sided against Dallas pushing Gregory into him.

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  24. C A L E B !!!

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  25. Unfortunately, we will be stuck with D Smith one more year as there aren’t many options available. We will hopefully pick up another 1-2 Oline in the draft and another in FA. I have faith in this coaching staff to evaluate talent and decide what to do moving forward. As it stands, we need a new LT, RG, and RT so fixing it all in one year is highly unlikely. I believe the staff should be able to fix 2 and hold over D Smith until next year when we are able to fix the final piece of the line.

    Maybe we’ll all be pleasantly surprised by what the staff can do with D Smith, but like others have stated, it’s highly unlikely.

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  26. Fix the trenches!

    OT, OG, DE, DT.

    Anything less and this off season will be a disappointment.

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