Since being named head coach of the Buccaneers, Bruce Arians has raved about the talent on the offensive side of the ball with the caveat that the offensive line needs to improve.
Tampa Bay selected eight new players last week in the NFL Draft, but none were offensive linemen. So how will an under-performing line improve, without an influx of new talent outside free agent Earl Watford?
Bucs run game coordinator Harold Goodwin, who works with the offensive line alongside Joe Gilbert, spoke at the podium on Thursday and thinks they will get it figured out.
“Obviously as a coach, you want to try and improve the competition in the room,” Goodwin said. “But from the couple months I have been here, I think highly of the room. It is a tight-knit group. Those guys are competitors. They help each other and work off each other. It is what it is. Those are my guys. No matter who is out there as the starting five, you will get the most out of them, I will get the most out of them and the fans will get the most out of them. We are going to do the best we can.”
Leadership is key on a football team at all positions, but really important on an offensive line according to Goodwin. While Ali Marpet was a team captain last year and regarded as the team’s best offensive lineman, but there are some others that can emerge as leaders.
“I think you have to have one head of the household,” Goodwin said. “But there can be a couple coming up behind him. I think right now, Ryan (Jensen) is. leader, Ali is a leader and I think Evan (Smith) is a leader in that room. I don’t really care who it is. But I think you have to have someone that is going to push everybody, hold everybody accountable. Because at the end of the day, B.A. [Bruce Arians] has always preached, ‘It’s not my team, it’s your team.’ So with that being said, somebody has to be director of the O-line room, somebody has to be director of the running back room, someone has to be director of the whole offense. I see some potential in some guys. And I think once these guys come to the forefront it is going to help this team be that much better.”
Gilbert also spoke to the media on Thursday and shared his thoughts on what he has liked so far.
“For me, the two things that have been really really refreshing, the guys in the room are very intelligent, cerebral, and really understand football right across the board,” Gilbert said. “From the standpoint it has been really positive. And I think overall, their athleticism. I think when you look at the guys across the board, we have guys the move very well, can bend, good redirection. So I am very pleased with the group of guys from those two things.”
Wrapping up his time with the media, Gilbert shared with what he wants his signature on the offensive line to be.
“I think No. 1 if we have all five guys on the same page with being smart being No. 1,” Gilbert said. “And then No. 2 being physical and tough. And No.3, finishing. We aren’t putting a guy on the moon. But if we can get all five guys blocking the right people, being on the same page, with Jameis and everybody else, and then being physical and tough at the point of the attack, and then finish.
“In my opinion, watching the tape from last year there were times guys just weren’t finishing. They were there, but they just didn’t finish. Where from a quarterback standpoint he may hold it a little bit longer and we think the ball is off upfront and you give up a sack, or a hurry or a pressure when there was an opportunity to make a big play. So for me those are the three things that we emphasize inside.
“Someone has to win a one-on-one block. We can’t double team every guy inside. The same thing in pass protect. You are going to slide, take into account who are their great pass rushers, but at the end of the day someone has to win a one-on-one block. Me against you, who wants it more. It might not always be pretty but I have got to instill my will over you, to beat your ass. Those guys up front, there aren’t any shortcuts.”