Bucs LT Donovan Smith - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
A large segment of Bucs fans have been clamoring for the Bucs to address the offensive line this offseason, but according to general manager Jason Licht and head coach Dirk Koetter, don’t expect a major overhaul.
Offensive line coach George Warhop – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Licht and Koetter spoke to the media, including PewterReport.com earlier on Wednesday from Indianapolis where they are attending the NFL Combine.
“I thought it wasn’t as good as 2015,” Licht said. “I think as the year went on they got better. Our left tackle Donovan Smith came on in the second half and was the player we were hoping to get and I think he’s going to be even better. Ali Marpet continues to show why he’s worthy of where we took him. Demar Dotson, we are very happy with him. Overall, individually, I think we are happy. Just like all position groups, they need some improvement and I think they will. George Warhop will be the first to tell you that we need to make some improvements there. I think we’re definitely capable. We have the right individuals and the right foundation. Of course we always want to look for depth and look for the best and put the best five out there.”
Head coach Dirk Koetter echoed Licht’s sentiment about the Bucs’ offensive line.
“We are happy with our offensive line,” Koetter said. “We weren’t as fortunate to stay healthy across the board as we were in 2015. As far as our personnel, we’re happy. We have a good list of things that we would like to improve on, but as far as our personnel, we’re happy with those guys. Those guys play hard. They try to do it the right way and try to do it the way we ask them to. If you had George Warhop, our O-line coach, up here he would give you a whole list of things we have to work on. We do at every position. We’re not where we need to be as a team yet. We’re not good enough. We have to get better.
Bucs G J.R. Sweezy – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Licht was asked about J.R. Sweezy, who was a big free agent signing in 2016, but due to a back injury, was unable to play a single snap last season.
“He was cleared at the end of the season,” Licht said. “I’m excited about that at this point. We’ll continue to monitor him and where he’s at from a physical standpoint. We’re going to put the best five players out there. Dirk and his staff do a great job of cross-training guys – guard-center, guard-tackle – and we’ve got a lot of guys that are capable of playing both guard and center. If Sweezy is healthy and he’s with us, which we would be excited for, we’ll put the best five out there.”
Koetter chimed in on the Sweezy health situation as well on Wednesday.
“That’s a medical question and I’m not a doctor,” Koetter said. “When we signed J.R. Sweezy we were extremely confident, and we’re very excited about J.R. joining our team and making us a better football team. Unfortunately, J.R. had a surgery in the offseason and the recovery was longer than anyone expected. No one wants to be out there helping the team more than J.R. He has been cleared. He didn’t get cleared until after our final game. He has been back training and now we’re ready to take it to the next step. Aside from having surgery, nothing has changed with J.R. the player who played so well for the Seahawks before we signed him. As of today, yes [he’s cleared for OTAs].”
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]
I’ve never been a Dotson fan, but I don’t have a major problem with the personnel. Too many Bucs fans want a NOW, NOW, NOW fix; our O-Line just needs time mostly. It wouldn’t hurt to add pieces, but I understand not forcing it. People act like our coach and GM are supposed to go out and say “we’re absolutely going to replace all those guys!” That’s not exactly a good way to instill your players with confidence.
Well said. Awesome!
There was no mention about the Center spot which was the weakest area and we need an up grade there. I don’t care who it is as long as it’s not Hawley.
The Bucs have made it pretty clear they don’t view center as a “weak spot” – they’re happy with the line, but want some additional improvement this season. I’ve read quite a few remarks that Hawley is very well liked by his teammates and coaches,though there’s a noisy contingent of Bucs fans here who want to show him the door.
At the end of the day, Licht and Koetter owe their jobs to the onfield success they deliver … given that they have more skin in the game any all the fans put together, we have to respect their opinion. First winning season since 2010 – I’d say those two have earned our respect.
I am one of those fans who want more competition on the line. There are holes that need to be filled and really consistency! I understand JL and Coach K are going to put the best 5 out there again we need consistent play from those 5 blocking for JW. So if we don’t add anyone to the mix that can play inside or shift to outside if need be when injuries occur I like some will be livid! Winston can’t be running for his life back there! We also need a solid number 2 wide out with 4.4-4.5 speed to stretch the field on O.
While Licht and Koetter have surprised me in the past two years with some of their FA acquisitions and some of their draft picks, I have been impressed with their overall consistency in quality of personnel pick ups so far. I do not have any expectations that they will draft anyone for the OL. However, I would not be stunned if they do. I do expect that they will try to improve by bringing in some more guys to compete via free agency. I would be very surprised if they made no moves whatsoever to add competition for the five starting positions.
Well said X. I think these guys just get better with time. Like wine!!
While I agree that every position could use better players or an improved performance from the youngsters we are developing, I don’t see the O-line as the biggest problem at all. It’s all a team effort. Weakness in one area (WR’s unable to get open quickly enough and an injured RB’s who becomes ineffective) can make another look like the culprit. While each of the offensive linemen had their share of difficulty with penalties from time to time, it was Joe Hawley (who had already been cut by Atlanta) who was getting rolled all too often. I’m sure his nagging injuries had an impact, but I don’t see him being in the pivot here long term. Perhaps Horse’s favorite prospect, Ben Gottschalk will take the job.
Licht and Koetter are operating under the assumption that this year we will stay healthy and that we can shuffle our linemen to different positions with no problem. I think a better and safer play is to sign Mangold and draft his potential replacement in the middle rounds. We all know how great Mankins was for us, both as a player and a leader. I see Mangold doing the same.
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