Normally at this point in the week I would be writing up my weekly column, Most Valuable Plays, where I take a look at the Bucs’ most valuable plays from their latest game in terms of expected points added and break down each one, showing why they were so successful for Tampa Bay.

This week however, as the Bucs were thoroughly dominated by the Saints on Sunday night, I didn’t see much worth in breaking down the few individual plays that actually provided significant value to Tampa Bay. So for this week, I’ll look at how the absence of Tampa Bay’s elite left guard Ali Marpet – and the subsequent replacement by veteran Joe Haeg – impacted the Bucs.

To start, Marpet hasn’t just been good for the Bucs in 2020, he’s been elite. As Mark Cook wrote in The Hook last month, Marpet has been among the Bucs’ best players this season and one of the best linemen in the league.

Through eight games this season Marpet carries an offensive grade of 84.9 from Pro Football Focus with a pass block grade of 78.9 and a run block grade of 82. Along the same lines, Marpet has allowed just seven pressures while failing to allow a single sack or commit a single penalty on 552 offensive snaps.

Haeg had played sporadically throughout the season before Sunday, getting all 40 of his prior snaps lined up as an extra blocker from the tight end position. In Week 9 Haeg played 50 offensive snaps at left guard, accruing an offensive grade of 40.7 and a pass blocking grade of 20.7 in a game where Tampa Bay ran the ball just four times. Against the Saints, Haeg allowed three quarterback hits and four hurries for seven pressures, numbers that are on par with Marpet’s stats for the year despite playing less than 10 percent of Marpet’s snaps at guard. And they would have been significantly worse marks if Brady hadn’t gotten the ball out as quickly as he did on several occasions.

On the Bucs second play of the game, Haeg may have made his best play of the day, driving defensive tackle Malcolm Brown into the turf, with the help of Rob Gronkowski. From there it was all downhill.

On the very next play, Haeg’s day began to fall apart. On third-and-3, the Saints showed a five man front but rush just four as inside linebacker Demario Davis drops into coverage. This leaves Haeg one-on-one with Trey Hendrickson, who immediately wins with a cross chop and gets into the backfield. Haeg recovers slightly, but it’s too late as Brady feels the pressure and fires quickly to his hot receiver, a covered Gronkowski on a quick out route just past the sticks.

On the first play of the ensuing drive Tampa Bay opted to start the series with play-action again, this time with Brady in the shotgun. As the Saints rush four, Haeg is once again lined up with a one-on-one match-up, now across from defensive tackle David Onyemata.

Post-snap the Bucs deploy routes from just three receivers. Brady looks quickly to Evans, double-covered as the lone receiver on the left side of the formation, and tries to work through his progressions to the opposite side of the field. By the time Brady gets to his next read Onyemata has already won, forcing Brady to throw one up for Godwin, who was looking for a back-shoulder pass. After Brady is hit on his second consecutive first down pass, it leads to another second-and-10.

Later on in the second quarter with the Bucs facing a third-and-6, Haeg’s struggles mounted. In a one-on-one situation, Haeg is beaten and gives up a quarterback hit that leads to another incompletion.

All-in-all, Tampa Bay converted just one of their 13 third down attempts.

Here’s one more example for good measure, showing Haeg getting tossed to the ground by a nasty push-pull move in a one-on-one battle, allowing Brady to be hit on the completion. And keep in mind, all of these examples are coming before Tampa Bay and New Orleans went to the locker room for halftime.

It wasn’t all bad for Haeg on the day, but the numbers don’t lie, the film doesn’t lie and the “silver lining” moments were fleeting. Haeg was serviceable on some reps in pass protection, getting better as the game went on, and played fine on his few run game snaps. But the overall body of work was easily the worst game by a Bucs offensive lineman this season.

On the play below, Haeg worked well with Donovan Smith adjusting to the Saints’ stunt to give Brady just enough time to let Godwin’s route develop and hit him for a 20-yard completion. But even then, this “silver lining” moment is simply serviceable as Brady still gets rid of the ball just in time with a hand in his face.

But when lined up in one-on-one battles in true pass protection sets, Haeg wilted and consistently needed assistance from a tight end or one of his fellow offensive linemen. It also didn’t help that the Bucs trailed by a large margin early, forcing them to abandon the run and allow New Orleans to increase the pressure, the blitzes and the games they were running up front.

Haeg now has one start under his belt with Tampa Bay, and should Marpet be forced to miss another contest, it’s clear that adjustments have to be made from the Bucs staff after watching the film from this week. Tampa Bay may have to consider moving Ryan Jensen to guard and playing A.Q. Shipley at center in order to avoid another Haeg meltdown in a huge divisional game.

Share On Socials

About the Author: Taylor Jenkins

Subscribe
Notify of
26 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
SappAttack
7 months ago

We all knew our depth was paper thin along both lines and that Donovan Smith is an average AT BEST starting LT. I really don’t want to see any picks outside the trenches this year. None.

drdneast
Reply to  SappAttack
7 months ago

I could live with that.

twspin
7 months ago

Ohh Please Taylor you bustin my Knees Brother! Nobody complained when we ripped the raiders despite them not having their O line together for 2 weeks now did we? Marpet would not have made that much difference. Ok maybe another 3 pts. We were Dogged..demolished, A..Whipped beyond a reason of a doubt.If you paid attention to the game, Our Bucs had that look after those 1st 2 possessions as if to say, we have never seen power like this. Both offensively and Defensively. So please, There is no doubt who is running the NFC South. And it ain’t us. Next… Read more »

twspin
Reply to  Taylor Jenkins
7 months ago

Gotcha Taylor. I’m hearin and understanding you loud and clear. Its just I am still in utter shock at our dismal performance.

JC
JC
Reply to  twspin
7 months ago

I think we’re missing the point here. The biggest problem is not getting beat by the d line is getting beat right off the snap.

Dave
Reply to  twspin
7 months ago

Well, when your QB can’t get set because the Saints are getting pressure up the middle with 4 guys, and ended up with a FIFTY % pressure rate, umm yeah Marpet being out made a huge difference. Brady was under pressure the entire game. Can’t possibly get an offense going when he’s running for his life every other play. We have no way to know for sure if we would have won with Marpet. Probably not, because our defense was trash. But it at least would have looked a lot more like wee 1 than this past week. You won’t… Read more »

cptsora
7 months ago

As someone that had front row seats for this show with a great vantage point on the 30 yard line this is 100% accurate. Joe Haeg was abysmal.

Needs to never see the field again. Hopefully Marpet is back this week.

PatrioticChief
7 months ago

Haeg got slaughtered at G. I believe he was PFF lowest graded player on the Bucs offense. Imagine what would happen if he had to replace Wirfs? The Bucs had better pray they stay healthy because they are going to have a massive sieve along the OL if anyone gets hurt. The need for depth in the offseason is very clear.

PatrioticChief
7 months ago

Brady was pressured on 50% of his snaps. The Saints rushed four almost the entire night. That’s inexcusable. He had a terrible game but the idea that Brady was going to push the ball deep down the field when being pressured on 50% of snap against a team rushing four is absolute lunacy. Coaches and the offensive line needed to do some serious soul searching.

Last edited 7 months ago by PatrioticChief
RW
RW
Reply to  PatrioticChief
7 months ago

In many of those cases the back stayed in and the Bucs still got whupped 6 men on 4. Not hard to cover 4 receivers with 7 defensive players when your D line alone is getting pressure on the QB.

Dave
Reply to  PatrioticChief
7 months ago

Oh wait, you didn’t hear? That’s Brady supporters making excuses. It was all his fault he got pressured on 50% of his drop backs( the most comically bad stat I’ve heard all week). Brady had no chance from the word go. When you combine an OLine that can’t block anyone, and a defense that can’t stop anyone, it’s a recipe for a blowout. Which is exactly what happened

Bucc My Life
7 months ago

Buc interior lineman drafted in the last 4 years:

  • Alex Cappa, 3rd round

….and that’s it. There’s the root of your whole depth problem. How many fullbacks, slot corners, nose tackles, kickers, strong side linebackers, and expendable skill players has light over-drafted over the years while ignoring foundational pieces like linemen?

BigSombrero
Reply to  Bucc My Life
7 months ago

Alex Cappa was a LT in college. Actually, so was Marpet and Smith. Wirfs was RT obviously.

scubog
7 months ago

Everything played right into the Saints’ hands. Pressure Brady and they didn’t have to worry about our vaunted receiving corps. Get ahead on the scoreboard quickly and they didn’t have to fret about our formidable RB duo. Throw quick passes and they didn’t have to be concerned with our pass rush. As Coach McKay once said, ” We didn’t block, but we made up for it by not tackling”. Once the $hit started going bad it just continued to get worse. It doesn’t erase the good play that got us the 6 wins and a 1 point loss. It’s Wednesday,… Read more »

fredster
Reply to  scubog
7 months ago

Yes and so far it’s looking like the NFL’s best run defense for Bucs for two seasons is about to become one of worst. So all you idiots that complained about Vea pick are looking real dumb about now.

Captain Sly
7 months ago

No cadences ie; hard counts, quick counts, hurry-ups, slip screens, draws or any other tactic were used to slow up this pass rush.. Injuries are part of the game and well coached football teams overcome injuries. Yes Haeg was over matched but what preparations did you make in case he struggles like he did. Everybody talks about (Brady & Evans) but what about pre game prep, game management/adjustments & scheme it all points back to the same person BA. Sorry Bucville my Pom Poms are Down 😔

Last edited 7 months ago by Captain Sly
surferdudes
7 months ago

Haeg was doing his thing as an extra blocker. That’s all he is. Haeg is not a guard. You can’t tell me he’s our best back up linemen after Sunday. Don’t we have any home grown talent? Isn’t there at least one prospect we’ve developed behind the scenes who’s a better option at guard then Haeg?

fredster
7 months ago

I have a question. Why is it Dallas Cowgirls (that I hate) have what 4 starters missing on a patchwork O line and almost beat best team in NFL Steelers Sunday? We lose 1 guy and look like total dog shit. This is a pathetic O line other than Marpet. Rest all inconsistent. It’s also pathetic coaching and Bum Lostwhich should been benched after calling 4 run plays in a game! Lol. Can you tell I’m still pissed about Sunday?

Spitfire
7 months ago

As soon as Marpet was out I knew that was gonna make Sun a nightmare. I kept asking for updates because we weren’t hearing anything. I still think it’s crazy teams don’t have better backup Olinemen but it should be a bigger priority. I hope Marpet comes back for Sun.

fredster
Reply to  Spitfire
7 months ago

Same here but stupid me thought we would be ok possibly since Bucs knew Marpet wouldn’t play early so they had time to have someone fill in and practice together all week. Part of me thought Donovan Smith will revert back and suck like first Saints game and with Marpet out could be a cluster. Never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined just how horrible they could suck. Smith stinks in every big game really against any great d line he chokes.

Last edited 7 months ago by fredster
Dave
Reply to  Spitfire
7 months ago

Me too dude! I think I was the only one that predicted a loss. I thought we were gonna lose because of Marpet being out. But I undersold my own narrative. Had no idea it would be in comically bad blowout fashion. He’s that important the offense. Him and Brady are the 2 most important players in the offense

drdneast
7 months ago

I’m watching that film and for the most part I am seeing long developing routes with Brady under constant pressure. Now he knows how Winston felt last year. Do we not have any plays with the WRs running short routes. If not, just grab a handful of he Saints because that’s practically all they run. In Haag’s defense, that push pull move should have had a defensive holding call on it because you can’t perform that move without holding onto the OL when you pull him. But there is the back judge watching it in full view. That is the… Read more »

drdneast
7 months ago

Teams get dominated like that when they have poor game plans and then they don’t adjust them. Talent isn’t that extremely different in the NFL, that is why most games are won by one score.

scubog
Reply to  drdneast
7 months ago

You’re right about that Dr.D. The Saints were much better prepared and had a much better game plan than the one we schemed. And just like that the game got out of hand. It happens. There have been a lot of times at my job when I have felt like General Custer, knock down one arrow (problem) and here comes another one.

Bucs aren’t dead yet.