Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott’s leap into a giant Salvation Army Red Kettle is the most replayed moment from last week’s 26-20 loss on Sunday Night Football.

A close second, however, might be the small collection of highlights turned in by second-year defensive end David Irving. The little-known Cowboy terrorized the Bucs backfield in the second half and made life miserable for backup right tackle Gosder Cherilus – again and again.

Bucs tackle Demar Dotson - Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

Bucs tackle Demar Dotson – Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire

Blame for Tampa Bay’s poor performance along the offensive line can get passed down from left tackle to right and everywhere between, but it was definitely Cherilus who has caught the bulk of it. A day after the game head coach Dirk Koetter revealed that the ninth-year veteran got hurt during the game and tried to play through it. ‘A’ for effort, but still an ‘F’ for execution.

Rookie Leonard Wester gave it a go at right tackle when Koetter finally yanked Cherilus late and the results weren’t much better. “Nobody on offense performed very good in that situation,” Koetter said on Tuesday. “So, Leonard was one of 11 that didn’t perform very well.”

Cherilus was in at right tackle for the second consecutive game because starter Demar Dotson continues to suffer from the aftereffects of a concussion. With Cherilus landing on this week’s injury report with injuries to his groin and ankle and Dotson still in the NFL’s concussion protocol, Koetter and the offensive staff have some decisions to make. When asked Thursday who may be getting the start at right tackle Saturday in New Orleans, Koetter said that’s to be determined.

“There’s a lot of things in consideration,” Koetter said to a reporter’s question about the possibility of starting left guard Kevin Pamphile and backup Evan Smith factoring into the decision. “I can’t tell you, but we’re going to show up and be ready to play, I will tell you that.”

Pamphile does have experience at tackle, but has made a successful transition to starting on the interior this season. He’s started 12 of 14 games, missing Weeks 10 and 11 because of a concussion.

Bucs LT Leonard Wester battles DE Noah Spence in 1-on-1 drills - Photo by: Cliff Welch/PRIf Dotson still can’t play – he did not practice Thursday after being a limited participant Wednesday – and Cherilus’ injuries also keep him sidelined, the Bucs would be left with three options on its current active roster. Those are Evan Smith, Wester and rookie Caleb Benenoch.

Whatever combination Koetter goes with it’ll have to perform better than the offensive line’s collective effort in Dallas. Quarterback Jameis Winston got sacked four times and hit on five other occasions, and the Bucs’ inability to run the football continues to stifle the offense’s potential. After turning 20 rushing attempts into just 52 yards, Tampa Bay’s run game dropped to 21st in the NFL (101.1 yards per game). The Bucs’ 3.5-yard-per-attempt average is fourth-worst in the league.

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About the Author: Eric Horchy

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4 years ago

So short passes, slants, roll outs and runing the run to the left side might be in order. My concern is why still so thin in the OL ; we still need 7 healthy OL to be able to play in the game?

4 years ago

Is anyone watching the Eagles game? Their RT is a force, neither of our tackles can hold a candle to him. He’s a difference maker. Other than Marpet our OL is a scrub wall.

We need to invest in top caliber OL talent if we want the offense to be a consistent strength of the team. It’s all on Licht. He has failed to deliver on the OL thus far. Fingers crossed…

Reply to  matador
4 years ago

I was watching that game too. You missed one thing though. Their offensive line is terrible at run blocking and Eli was running for his life. The giants are 27 in rushing and 20th in points scored. He passed the ball 63 times and they only scored 20 points. One good right tackle doesn’t mean the whole line is good. In fact there’s very few teams in the NFL that can say their o-line is a finished product. In licht I trust. He’s produced so far and one we get some more picks on this line, I’m sure it’ll all… Read more »

4 years ago

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t Benenoch play right tackle at UCLA? If so why did an UDFA rookie Wester from a small school get the nod over Celeb last week? I know the Bucs want to move Celeb inside but why? Both are RT’s are garbage, Gosder was so bad we’re pining for the holding, hands to the face penalty waiting to happen Dotson to return.

4 years ago

Big problem going into a big game. Not very confident going to New Orleans with Cameron Jordon going up make shift OL.
Has to be a priority in off season but it is what it is now. BTW, when did Dotson get his concussion? Was that in practice after the Charger game? As I recall he played that entire game. Just asking.