After a 2-14 season, roster changes are inevitable for the 2014 Buccaneers. But although the offseason will consist of significant turnover, it might not be the complete overhaul that many fans are expecting. And that includes the offensive line.
On Monday, during his last press conference of 2014, Lovie Smith spoke confidently about three offensive lineman. And, as of now, Evan Dietrich Smith, Logan Mankins and Demar Dotson all seemed poised for a return.
Smith spoke first about Dietrich-Smith. The former Packer had an up-and-down season, however center is a pivotal position for the offense’s development. It’s difficult to have a revolving door at the position that calls the unit’s checks and stunts.
“As you start with the center, you better like him,” Smith said. “Evan would be the first one to tell you, like all of us, we didn’t perform as well as we will next year. But yes, Evan is a part of our future. I said that then, I’m saying that now.”
Dotson was arguably the best of the bunch this year, showing versatility when he moved from right tackle to left for the final three games. With free agent bust Anthony Collins – who likely won’t return – struggling at times, it seemed like the Bucs would have no choice but to add a left tackle via the draft or free agency. But with Dotson stepping in and improving each week, it’s likely that he’ll retain the position in 2015.
“Everything is to be determined,” Smith said. “But I thought he did a pretty good job there. And in mid stream, to finish a game and then the next day you show up, (And I say) ‘Demar guess what? From right, you’re going to left.’ ‘Okay coach.’ And that’s pretty much how it happened. It went, ‘you think I can do it? ‘Yes, I think you can do it. ‘Do you think you can do it, Demar?’ ‘Yes, I think I can do it.’
“That was a step that we needed to take to see him,” Smith continued. “And again, his better days are ahead of him if we decide to keep him at the left tackle position. And as I talk to you right now, I don’t see why not. Nothing has said that he can’t do it.”
Then there’s Logan Mankins. Whether it was his age (32), the fact that he had never played on a losing team before this season, or if it was simply just a lack of chemistry with his new teammates, Mankins didn’t resemble the former Pro Bowler he was at New England.
Nonetheless, he was still one of the best lineman they had, and, above all, a great leader in the locker room. Smith, as well as the players, valued his professionalism and season-long effort.
“I thought Logan had a… on a 2-14 team, I thought Logan did a good job,” Smith said. “He played consistent ball for us throughout. He was great in the locker room, the culture that we’re changing like we’ve talked about. When you have a guy that’s been through it like Logan has, I thought he was outstanding doing that.
“As we go forward, of course he’s one of the reasons why we talk about going from here (bottom) to there (top), making that move. Again, it’s a tough situation for him, a guy who’s won his entire time in the league pretty much and to have to go through this. But he did, and I thought it was good for our team to see how a real pro handles a situation like that.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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When the San Francisco 49ers signed Colin Kaepernick to a massive contract extension during the offseason, it became inevitable that the team would lose some significant players in free agency over the next several years. One of the players almost certain to leave is All-Pro guard Mike Iupati. The Bucs need a run game and Iupati is a road grader of the first order (RB Frank Gore will verify).
He is not the best available at pass pro, but he has been good enough to make the Pro Bowl 3 years in a row. He is a left guard, 27, and could be had for the same average salary (8.5mil) the Bucs are paying 32 year old Logan Mankins. Even though Mankins is only scheduled to make 6.75mil in 2015, he should be asked to take a pay cut – a refusal at the Pats that got him traded to the Bucs!
I don’t mind if these 3 players are on the team. I just don’t want them to start, including Dotson. They represent 60% of the worst Offensive Line I have ever seen here in TB, and that is saying something. Lovie had more outrage at the previous year’s OL, which was probably better than his version. I hate this kind of public acceptance of the worst unit on a disgraceful season. Good Lord,does he think fans are blind or stupid?
You can’t blame every player for the play of this unit. A guy can only play one position. He can’t be held responsible,for the poor play of a guy at a different position. Holding them all responsible simply makes no sense. From what someone posted who has a subscription to Pro Football Focus posted, Dotson was the 11th rated OT in the entire NFL and the 10 OTs rated above him were all LT., so he was the highest rated RT in the NFL.
Some changes are clearly needed…a blind dog could see that…how much change will depend on opportunity – let’s see which FAs are willing to come (Iupati, Weisnewski…) and who’s available st #34….
Back up center to replace exsting Center in 1-2 years;If Mankins doesn’t take a pay cut then cut him and sign the Macabee choice; draft a swing Tackle; draft a left tackle; draft a swing Guard; draft another RB; more important than anything draft a QB.
The real culprits for the dismal showing by the unit were Collins, Cousins, Gilkey and Omameh. No, the ones mentioned as “keepers” going into next season weren’t without their own issues from time to time; but they are at least worth retaining. Let’s see if Warhop is shown the exit along with his “pets” as Owlykat calls them. I know this much, Warhop can’t evaluate players.
I’d rather have Lupati, but I’m ok keeping Mankins to groom his replacement in the draft. We haven’t had much luck with F.A. guards, better draft one. As horse said, we can’t get caught with our pants down, we need a plan at center. When EDS went down we rolled out Gilkey!! Are you kidding me??!!
“Smith spoke first about Dietrich-Smith. The former Packer had an up-and-down season, however center is a pivotal position for the offense’s development. It’s difficult to have a revolving door at the position that calls the unit’s checks and stunts.
Lovie was blind when he acquired him, and apparently still is. I still don’t see any real improvement from game 1. EDS is a loser.
Quite frankly that did not sound like a ringing endorsement for any of those three guys. It sounded to me like he was just saying he doesn’t see any reason to cut any of those three guys. Just like when they had T. Wright and Myers and still drafted A. Sefarin-Jenkins I don’t think they’ll hesitate to draft the BPA at any O-line position in the draft. Keeping these three guys doesn’t force them to take a certain position which is smart.
Dotson is good, but not great by any means. Worth keeping if price is fair. Other than that I can’t believe Lovie is talking about keeping EDS or Mankins. Why can’t you change the center if you are changing offensive coordinator, QB, Offensive line coach, etc. or are we keeping McCown at QB because he still gives us the best chance to win? Are we also keeping Warhop and Arroyo? I see this team going nowhere fast. He blew up an overpaid line that was playing average to little above average and assembled what is the worst offensive line I have ever seen period. Then talks about keeping it intact as much as possible. Logan Mankins is too old and our center is overpaid and average. There is not a single pro bowler on that line. It starts up front and I don’t like what I’m hearing so far in the offseason. Offensive line didn’t need an overhaul last year, but it sure as hell needs one now that he’s created this mess!
I always listen to Coach Smith Press Conferences. He neither praised nor condemed EDS or Mankings other than they played on a 2-14 team.
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