The perception of something may not always be what the reality of the situation is. There are varying opinions on how good the Bucs’ offensive line is, as some fear the unit could be the thing that holds back Tom Brady and the offense, while others believe the line is above average.
Bucs’ left guard Ali Marpet doesn’t put much stock into what someone’s thoughts are on the offensive line, because he has his own views on it and sees what they do each day.
“I feel much more confident in how I feel about it than whatever the perception is,” Marpet said. “I really don’t put much into that. Now I think that an offensive line coach may use that as a tool to motivate guys or something like that and that can be useful sometimes, but ultimately, no. I mean, for me, it’s about how I feel, what kind of effort we’re putting forward and how we’re preparing and are we doing everything we can possibly do to be successful and if we’re checking those boxes, then that’s what I’m gonna ask for.”
It will be a little different for the entire Bucs team whenever training camp gets started. The Bucs have become a playoff contender and the center of attention with Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski on the roster. With that comes higher expectations before the season begins.
“There’s certainly more media coverage than there ever has been since I’ve been on the team,” Marpet said. “There’s certainly a lot of media coverage so there’s expectations, those you see on NFL Network or whatever and then there’s also our own internal expectations and those, for me, have always been the same. It’s always, are we going to the Super Bowl? That’s been the same conversation I’ve had with guys since being here.”
As far as what Marpet’s approach is to blocking for Tom Brady, that doesn’t change. Marpet is excited to be playing with a quarterback who’s won the most Super Bowls in NFL history, but at the end of the day, his job is to block his man no matter who the quarterback is.
“I’m fired up to be able to play with someone who’s had so much success in the NFL,” Marpet said. But I think with how I approach each game and blocking for him, it’s not like whether you’re blocking for Jameis [Winston] or blocking for Brady it makes that much of a difference. For me, I’m always doing the best job that I can and that’s what I’ll continue to do whether it’s Jameis or Brady or [Ryan Griffin] or Blaine [Gabbert.] For me, at least in pass pro, it’s how can I hold up the longest and how can I win for as long as I possibly can and I don’t know if that necessarily changes having Brady back there. That’s just my individual approach.
Brady is a quarterback that tends to get the ball out a quickly, which can greatly help out an offensive line. While Marpet said that it can help here and there, that ultimately doesn’t change what he needs to do.
“I’m blocking my dude for as long as I possibly can,” Marpet said. Does it help if I mess up and the quarterback is able to get it out on time so it’s something that can help you getting it out early? Yeah, that can be a benefit so sometimes it can cover up maybe a mistake that an offensive lineman has, but ultimately for us I think the approach is always how can I lock my dude down for the longest for the run game? How can I make my guy a non-factor really? And I think that will continue for all of us. It should.”
An area the Bucs will look to improve on in 2020 was the run game, which was 24th in the league with 95.1 yards per game. That’s something Marpet believes will starts with he and his teammates getting better, and in turn the ground game as a whole will benefit because of it.
“They’re guys that want to improve on themselves and get better and get stronger in better shape,” Marpet said. “So I think that you’ll see better years for everyone, Donovan [Smith] will play better, Ryan [Jensen] will play better than he did the year before, I think you’ll see that everyone will work to play a little bit better because we have that sort of mentality and approach, just always kind of improving on ourselves so I really expect better results in the run game next year.”