All Twenty-Tuesday: Bucs’ Struggling O-Line

The Bucs offensive line was not what it needed to be last game against the Cleveland Browns, and that’s not a good sign. Not only was that the game in which we saw the first-team offensive line play their most snaps together, it was also the last time before Week 1 of the regular season, as they are not going to play in the final game in Dallas in order to avoid any kind of injury.

The Bucs’ offensive line woes started early, and unfortunately it wasn’t just from one spot.

The Bad

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This was the famous play that made its round across Twitter and other social media platforms, highlighting Bucs offensive tackles Donovan Smith and Demar Dotson getting absolutely worked on the outside – Smith by Myles Garrett and Dotson by Olivier Vernon.

There wasn’t any kind of scheme mishap here. It was just a good ol’ fashion win by the edge players. In the first angle, you can see that the Bucs’ 33-year-old right tackle Dotson was simply out-ran to the spot, which caused his footwork to be compromised, and then overpowered, as the bull rush left him with his butt on the grass while his quarterback went down. On Smith’s side, it’s almost hard to even blame him here because Garrett is just one of the toughest match-ups in the NFL to take one-on-one. Smith vertically dropped into his pass set, and the angle he took was fine. But Garrett’s attack of Smith’s outside shoulder, his rip up into Smith’s chest, and the angle at which he could turn the corner were too much.

Smith has had his reps before where he should have won them, but in a one-on-one like this against one of the best in the game, it’s hard not to just tip your cap to Garrett and go onto the next rep.

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Beyond the two offensive tackles getting beat to the bone on a play in which they went up against two of the best in the NFL, the more worrisome performance was that of right guard Alex Cappa.

The Bucs have been a revolving door at right guard for two years now. Kevin Pamphile, Evan Smith and Caleb Benenoch have all had their shot to take the starting guard spot over the years, but none have been able to hold it down.

In comes Cappa, who in his second year has been having a good training camp. He’s been running with the first-team offensive line for the last month, and he really hasn’t had too many glaring mistakes. That gave us confidence in that we would see a cohesive unit with him as the right guard going into the third preseason game.

Watching it live, it looked like Cappa had a terrible game. He gave up two sacks and at best two more pressures. On the broadcast, it looked like he was just lost. But after watching it again, I wouldn’t say that he was “lost,” he just wasn’t ready.

In the play above, Cappa got beat with an inside stunt that he just did not process in time. It’s not that Cappa doesn’t have the ability to make the block (that would be a bigger issue). In the play above, he just took too long following his initial man instead of smoothly sliding to protect the new players stunting from outside to inside.

A mistake that has to be fixed, but one that could theoretically be fixed with time and more experience as a starter – you hope.

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This second blunder by Cappa was again just a lack of experience. Cappa was not ready for that slick little inside spin move at all – he was probably wondering when Dwight Freeney came out of retirement as he chased the defender to the back of the pocket. It wasn’t exactly encouraging seeing Smith get beat by a similar spin move on the other side, since he does have experience, but we’ve documented Smith’s deficiencies before. He just needs to be better.

Again, Cappa was just caught off guard. He doesn’t get overpowered much. When he loses, he loses because he is outsmarted on things that he likely hasn’t seen much of at real-game speed. Not to try to give false hope here, but this is all stuff that could come to strengthen in time – and the reason I say that is in the section below.

The Bounce Back

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It’s easy to rag on offensive linemen. Why? Because of the 50-60 snaps they play in a game, they can preform most of them right, but those few that they don’t are glaring. Hence the very first play we looked at going viral.

But what the viral tweets won’t show you are the bounce back plays, in which there were a handful for the Bucs offensive tackles Smith and Dotson.

In the play above, for example, Dotson was once again going up against Vernon. But, on that play, he was ready for him. He remembered how Vernon got the better of him the first time, adjusted, and timed his strike perfectly to ride Vernon all the way back to the bottom of the pocket, staying in front of him and even knocking him down.

That’s the kind of stuff that won’t get shown on replay but something the Bucs’ starting offensive tackles are capable of.

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The same can be said for Cappa. As stated before, Cappa doesn’t often get overpowered or outmatched in his assignments. For the most part, he has learned to really get his hands in the right positions to lock up interior defensive linemen, and he has the sand in his pants (a scouting term meaning he knows how to sink his heels and stop a guy in his tracks) to anchor and not let a player breach the pocket.

Just because Tampa Bay’s offensive linemen can and often do have those bounce back plays does not mean it totally excuses the handful of questionable reps they’ve also shown. Make no mistake, percentage of good plays aside, if they play against the 49ers and the Panthers like they did against the Browns, the Buccaneers will lose – and it will be their fault. They have top get better as a unit. However, I don’t think this offensive line is in a “hopeless” situation yet.

The Bucs offensive line may not be filled with All-Pros outside of Ali Marpet, but they are guys who can get it done.

They still need to prove they can. And we’ll know very quickly if they can’t.

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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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bucballer

Just wondering… if we do pick up an OL after cutdowns does this mean the last man on depth chart(appears) to be Benenoch, will be cut to make room for any OL picked up? This would not bother me one bit. I’m just saying…

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Sector2814

That’s more than fine. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

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Easythe great

Jack Cichy is gonna make this team

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Horse

I see a trade for Brate.
Also wouldn’t surprise me if we make a swap for older back up Guard or Tackle for Spence or Golston.
Doubt #4 RB and #5 wide receiver will end up being the actual ones on the roster when season starts.

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Boca James

Any team that is deep at G, or T i would look for their cuts next week.

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Itch

We are going to need three productive QBs given how the OL is performing. The risk of injury is very high at this point with Gabbert already being injured. Winston cannot take 5+ sacks a game and not end up injured, much less playing well. Which speaks to the absolute need to pick up OL discarded gems in waivers. We need to instill a constant level of competition on the OL to drive better performance, but I am not conviced we have the OL talent to handle some of the DL talent we will face this year. With that said,… Read more »

Alldaway 2.0

There is an outside chance that Legget makes the team. And I think based on Bowles history he tends to like to keep five safeties on the roster. As for Ellington I am not sure if he is a lock because while he has seen playing time with the 1s he hasn’t done much to capitalize on it. Other than that I agree with this 53 man Bucs roster projection. I will say though that I can see a scenario where the Bucs add 2-3 new backup OL to join Watford. However, if the team really likes Bailey I can… Read more »

Alldaway 2.0

Let me add that the Bucs were a topped ranked offense with some of the worst RG play I ever saw last year. Cappa will improve and hold down RG or Watford can come in and play at a more consistent level than Benenoch.

However, if the tackles play the way they did it will be hard to win five games with that type of play.

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Buc-Up

I see at least three OL, one or two DL, one or two OLB claimed off of waivers or signed as free agents. I can see them releasing Spence to make room for another OLB because I think he can only speed rush and I still see him get neutralized on most of those.

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Alldaway 2.0

Agreed.

If Spence makes the team he will be used exclusively in pass rushing situations from a wide 9 or stand up rusher.

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Buc-Up

All of you that voted down on my post can BITE ME! They released Spence and traded for an OT.

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Itch

I think because speed is our best weapon to overcome our OL glaring weaknesses, the team will keep six WRs including Scotty Miller. I do not believe they will risk placing Scotty on the parctice squad and having another team steal him. They are already risking that with Schnell and Hall. I even think they would go to the length of releaseing Ellington to keep six WRs that allow for quick outs and dumps over the middle. This sia play action offense, and we still have an unproven running game. We are going to have to keep defenses honest by… Read more »

jeff becker

we need a running back. drop ellington.

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Spitfire

For the record Nassib was 2nd on the Team in Sacks, not 3rd. Not a big deal just pointing it out. The evaluation on the Oline was exactly the way I felt. During the game I was sweatin and frustrated with the lack of protection but when you went back and looked at it it was some very specific circumstances that they missed on and it “mostly” looked like things they were tricked by and could definitely catch and learn from. When Cappa is on he looks solid, strong and mean. The plays he got beat on comes from a… Read more »

Itch

Some of our OL issues were “basic blocking and tackling” to use a stupid pun. Look at the footwork and body positioning when we got beat on edge rushes, especially Dotson, Smith and even Cappa. The legs are crossing over which throws the body off balance and then they end up on their ass. This is startling because look how far back our tackles were lining up to allow for more reaction time. This is a real fundamentals issue that speaks to deeper concerns. We also got beat by inside stunts several times, with missed pickups. There was no RB… Read more »

Itch

When Barber and Jones found a hole, they made the most of it. They were running hard and violently. The overall lack of running production was due to the number of time the were stopped in the backfield or before a play could fully materialize, and that is on the OL. It is also on the play design because even some of our running plays took too long to materialize. Jury is still out on how our RBs can be big play makers, but I do not think our RBs are our problem. We need to go straight at the… Read more »

SCLOBERNOCKER

I dont see a reason to keep Ellington. There isn’t a single thing he provides that one of the other 3 don’t do better. Id rather use his spot on a young contributer.

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Dman

Agree he’s the 4th man on the depth chart, I just think it’s an issue of having an extra guy at a position where guys get hurt. it’s a long season.

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76bucsfan46

I believe that Mazzi Wilkins is our #4 corner this season. I’m also looking forward to the new WR from Missouri sticking around long enough for BA to evaluate him in a game situation, speed kills. I didnt see anything from Scotty Miller in his limited playing time for him to make the 53. O’Line O’Line O’Line enough said.

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Dman

76bucs fan – I’m really hoping to get a look at Hall (WR from Mizzou) this last preseason game. I think he’s a better long term prospect over Miller and won’t last if we put him on the practice squad.

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bfarbs

Agree with all of this except I dont see the Bucs keeping Ellington. No one is going to pick him up off of waivers and he has no upside given his age. Instead, I see the Bucs keeping Schnell or Miller on roster rather than risk losing them to another team. We also have seen how injury prone Perriman is so the depth will likely be necessary at WR this year.

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Dman

Gonna be interesting to see where some of these young guys land that can play but may be lost in the numbers game. Wilkins, Miller, Hall, Hudson. plenty of others. I also think MJ Stewart got a bad rap for being slow last season due to scheme, coaching and inexperience. He’s outplayed Murphy Bunting for the slot CB position and has a year under his belt.

Will be interested to see what BA does with the O line. Glaring weakness coming into this offseason and nothing has been done.

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rocky

What about darian Stewart? I haven’t heard much about him since the signing a few weeks back but he’s a veteran safety who who would bring a lot of stability to the back end of that defense especially considering the injuries we have already had at that position. Figured he might be penciled In there

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Alldaway 2.0

That fifth safety spot may be up for grabs so any of the other safeties could stick. So it is possible.

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surferdudes

Thank you Trev for not putting Miller on the final 53 like Scott did. I don’t see the fan love affair with this kid. Bobo, and Watson are just plain bigger, tougher, and more seasoned. You want to know what I’d do with this O line? I’d move Marpet back to RG, and start Bailey who played big time football in the SEC at LG. I don’t know why Cappa was never given a shot at tackle. Benenoch struggled at RG, but looks much better at RT which is what he played in college. I think he replaces Dotson there… Read more »

deeznuts

Ogunbowale is solid – I remember watching him impress with the Giants when Wilson went down (the guy who got drafted right after Doug Martin). Not sure why they ever let him go.

Why is JPP just now showing up? Coming off double digit sacks, 12$M, and a new head coach/defensive position isn’t enough motivation? I remember him calling out the bad apples last year, but he’s gotta get ready to play asap..no one is going to push him at home. Ice up homie

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wnb0395

JPP just got cleated to start rehabbing Tuesday. I’m sure there are legal issues preventing a player not medically cleared from being at the facility for sprung training and the preseason. If something were to happen to Him before he is cleared the bucs would be held responsible.

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76Buc

Next year’s draft will see heavy doses of OL, DL, and a RB.

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Tunnelvizn

Gee, I remember hearing that about this past draft

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Mee Loopa

I liked what i saw from Ryan Smith, he’s also a special team stand out. I think i’d go with him rather than Mazzi Wilkins. Even if i love Cam Brate for what he’s done in the past. We have a younger and cheaper version of him in Tanner Hudson. I like the idea trading him for an o-liner, as long he has some value. Just trade Jake Matthews for Cam Brate. Koetter would love to have him in Atlanta – Austin Hooper can’t be their go to guy. Our late round picks could develop in our practice squad. Rate… Read more »

liquidmuse3

Usually Trevor’s so good. Bunting over MJ for nickel? Isn’t nickel in this D the Honey Badger position? And didn’t Bond shine as an OUTSIDE LB 2 weeks ago? And Whitehead has absolutely locked down a starting spot. This legit feels like Trevor based half of this on what he heard or thought would happen rather than the reality.

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buddah

I still think way too too much is being made of preseason games. These are glorified practices without detailed prep time and game-planning. Do you really think that the Buccaneers offensive line spent detailed time running through tapes of the moves of all the Cleveland defensive lineman and how to deal with them. I don’t. They have much more on their minds, especially 49ers and Carolina. Will be interesting to see how Carolina competes given that Cam was held out of games and many practices due to his shoulder surgery and now isn’t practicing due to the angle injury. Besides,… Read more »

avez8811

great article, i feel like this team is stacked with great players looking at it on paper but whether they all so up on sundays is another story. o-line is definitely our issue especially with depth we should be developing at least one guy there that and our outside linebackers make me nervous without jpp. that being said our secondary will be exciting to watch grow dean will be a stud as will others. with bruce arians and gang im looking forward to this campaign.

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owlykat

I would keep Holcomb over Benenoch. Holcomb was better at Guard than the South Carolina rookie and he subbed for Dotson at Tackle last year and played well!

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Alldaway 2.0

Good catch because I was wondering why Arians was interested in seeing Holcomb come back from injury and onto the field. That makes sense that the coaching staff is looking at turning over every stone to find players that can play at the bottom of the roster.

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owlykat

Overall a very good job, Trevor. I was pulling for Miller til he was chicken in a runback opportunity and then played poorly as a pass receiver. He needs to bulk up on practice squad so he is more durable and get more training and build his confidence. You were right not to put him on the top 53.

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The Vicness

Benenoch makes this team? I think it more than likely we pick someone off of waivers and let Benenoch go. I’ve seen zero improvement in games; granted I’ve watched no practice, but if you don’t perform when the lights are on what is the point. I love Cam, but if his hip is injured again, place him on IR or let him go. We need to win. Miller, unless he balls out, isn’t making this team. Arians in essence called him soft, especially when he was talking about how Obugunwale is playing hurt and is playing at a high level.… Read more »

ryan24

By my count the roster has 52 by Trevor. JPP doesn’t count vs. the roster.

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