Starting center Ryan Jensen appeared on the “Locked On Bucs” podcast on BucsNation.com to discuss a number of topics, from looking back on the 2018 season, to how he plans to improve in the 2019 year, and of course, playing for the Bucs new head coach Bruce Arians.
With the stature and reputation of Arians, Jensen is optimistic about learning from him.
“I’ve known a couple of guys who have played for him,” Jensen said. “They absolutely love him and say he’s a great competitor and a great coach. Everywhere he’s been he’s had guys that have played great and he’s done great things for several different teams throughout the league. I’m excited, I’m excited to get back to work here in early April and get this next season rolling and get this last one behind us.”
Jensen spent his first four years with the Baltimore Ravens before signing with the Bucs in 2018 offseason. His four-year, $42 million contract made him the highest paid center in the NFL. The plan in signing Jensen was to rebuild an offensive line that had struggled the year prior, but the results did not meet expectations.
He committed 11 penalties during the year, with four of them coming from personal foul penalties. In comparison, he only committed nine penalties overall during his four years in Baltimore. Jensen believes that some of his penalties were calls that should not have been made, citing that the refs made some mistakes.
Jensen is known as a tough, hard nosed player that plays with an attitude during games. You can find him always sticking up for his teammates, but sometimes he goes over the line and turns that into getting into some skirmishes, which is followed up by those personal foul calls on him.
“I had a couple that were obvious and whatnot,” Jensen said. “And some of those personal fouls were stupid, but, that’s who I am. I’m an aggressive, attacking type of guy, and yeah, I got to cut those penalties down.”
Despite having a top five offense on the season, the entire offensive line came under much scrutiny in 2018, namely with the run game. While there are certainly things that they need to improve on, Jensen felt that some of the criticism is unwarranted.
“When things go downhill on offense and things aren’t happening, a lot of times the offensive line is the scapegoat.” Jensen said. “There’s things you look at and overall stats, and I said this at the end of the year after the last game of the season, I always say stats are for losers, and I kind of feel that way.”
One of his teammates on the offensive line that received the brunt of the blame was left tackle Donovan Smith. The way Jensen sees it, the criticism or Smith was unfair. Smith is a free agent this offseason, and Jensen would like to have him back on the Bucs.
“I would love to see Donovan back here in Tampa,” Jensen said. “There’s things that every person has to work on, that’s what this league is about, it’s about continually getting better and not plateauing out. Donovan, from what I know, I mean, I had my rough patches, Ali (Marpet) had some rough patches, and Donovan I think towards the last nine games of the year really turned it on in pass protection and really started to shine.”