The Buccaneers spent much of the offseason retooling their offensive line, replacing former Pro Bowlers like Davin Joseph and Donald Penn with younger – albeit – less proven talent like Evan Dietrich-Smith and Anthony Collins. And through 11 games, culminated with Sunday’s performance, the changes have underwhelmed.
“I wish I could give you an answer to that,” Bucs head coach Lovie Smith said as to why the offensive line hasn’t come together. “We’re working on that. We’re trying to solve that. I don’t know exactly what it is. We haven’t played our best ball together.”
The only returning player to the five man unit, Demar Dotson, also offered no excuses.
“I knew it was going to be different as in the continuity,” Dotson said. “I had been with those guys for a long time. I knew it was going to be a lot to get used to, but I didn’t think it was going to hard to gel like that on the football field. We’re are professionals, and these guys coming from different teams, they’re good players.
You would think that as a professional athlete, this is what you are paid to do,” he continued. “They’re paying guys a lot of money to do the job, so you would think that that wouldn’t be an excuse. And that’s not an excuse. I don’t look at it as an excuse, I look at it as that’s us not doing our job.”
The offensive line’s lack of continuity has been discouraging. And while Smith and Dotson were confused as to why, neither pulled any punches when asked about the overall play in the blocking game.
“At the end of the day, somebody is not doing their job,” Dotson said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s the offensive line, the tight ends or the receivers; we all play a part. When you go back and watch film, you realize that it’s just that close, but maybe the right guard missed the block or I missed a block or the tight end missed a block. So it’s not everybody gelling at the same time. When one guy does well, somebody else messes up. It’s just never everybody on the same page at the same time.”
“I think that’s safe to say, we haven’t played as well on the offensive line as we had hoped,” Smith said. “We thought we needed to retool it starting off and had a few injuries but we hadn’t played as well as we need too.
“Everything starts up front. As we look at what happened yesterday offensively, we didn’t play as well as we need to on the offensive line, yes. And that’s been the case a few times.”
By ‘a few times’, he could be referring to the eight games in which they’ve failed to block for a 100-yard rusher (six games under 80) or the constant pressure they’ve allowed on the quarterback. Sunday’s effort featured both, as the offense could only manage 66 yards on the ground, while Josh McCown faced a steady pass rush from start to finish.
Evan Dietrich-Smith struggled at times on the afternoon, and Patrick Omameh and Logan Mankins didn’t prove to be much better. But like Smith and Dotson said, it’s not about one or two guys, it’s about the whole unit.
And the whole unit was dominated on Sunday.
“Up the middle and off of the edge too,” Smith said. “Stephen Paea had a great day against us, one of their inside guys. Ratliff was pretty tough too. They got some pressure off the edge also.”
Zach is entering his 3rd year covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a writer for PewterReport.com. Since 2014, he's handled a large part of the beat reporting responsibilities at PR, attending all media gatherings and publishing and promoting content daily. Zach is a native of Sarasota, FL, and a graduate of the University of Tampa. He has also covered high school football for the Tampa Tribune and the NFL for Pro Player Insiders.
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Ian Rapoport @RapSheet 57m57 minutes ago
#Bengals OT Andre Smith has a tear in the tricep/bicep area, source said. He needs surgery next week and his season is over.
Somebody call Jason Licht to get on the phone and make the Bengals a deal they can’t refuse to return OT Anthony Collins. Hurry!
As far as I’m concerned we should get rid of the entire lot. Jason Licht hoped he could take other team’s cast-offs, a couple of late round draft picks and Dotson to form a credible unit. That experiment failed miserably. First, Licht, his scouts and the coaching staff need to determine exactly what they want in an O-line prospect. With this receiving corps we could seek out pass blockers. But with no QB that idea seems questionable. They could look for massive road graders to improve the running game in an effort to hide the weak QB situation. But with a stable of running backs that so far has been unimpressive we might be as stuck in quicksand as they are. I say, we draft or acquire some wide-bodied power blockers for the inside and athletic pass protectors on the outside.
Scubog I agree with you that we need to replace the entire O-line. I agree with you to a certain extent about the type of O-linemen we should get. However, I want wide-bodied power blockers from tackle to tackle. If we want athletic OT’s we can just keep Dotson at RT. He’s very athletic, but he doesn’t have the calves or ankles for power run blocking. The Bucs haven’t had a good run blocking O-lineman since Dan Buenning was healthy (remember him?). I don’t like zone run blocking, lightweight O-linemen who can’t help you punch it in in short yardage situations. I want to be able to run the ball against any team in the NFL, like the 49ers, Seahawks or Steelers. You do indeed give up some pass protection with O-lines like that, but with an elusive QB with good pocket presence like Mariota (or possibly Winston) we can get away with that.
NOW YOU GUYS ARE TALKING MY LANGUAGE! But I do think that our QBs and RBs will perform much better with a good oline.
For those who want us to draft a QB this year, are you really sold on the top 2 prospects? One is going to need a lot of work to get to the nfl level and the other may not be able to stay out of jail.
I would also add that I am tired of the stupid penalties and mental lapses. One week it’s ASJ. The next week it’s Evans. Every week it’s at least 2 or 3 of the O-line. Every game, jeez.
I’m a long time bucs watcher and for as long as I can remember there has always been an issue with the O-Line. This year we revamped because the last group of guys didn’t perform. And here we are again . . . Wondering this – Do other teams have the same challenges with getting a line to ‘Gel’ if so how long does it take? Is it a talent thing or a ‘the offense is new’ thing? If PR is correct and we will go with another OC in the offseason – should we expect next year to be similar to this one since the O-Line will have another system to learn? Unfortunatly Coach speak does not answer any of these questions so wondering what PR thinks?
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