O-Line Experts Weigh In On Marpet MoveApril 21st, 2017
While Joe doesn’t like it, Joe has a very open mind about the Bucs’ great spring and summer “experiment” (Dirk Koetter’s word) that moves emerging star right guard Ali Marpet to center.
Joe has even talked to two big-time offensive line experts about the subject.
Back at the AFC Coaches Breakfast in Phoenix (yes, Joe was there), Joe tracked down new Jaguars head coach Doug Marrone, a renowned offensive line coach and a guy who played O-line in the NFL under Hall of Fame Dolphins head coach Don Shula.
Joe asked Marrone about a guard moving to center and what that really means and entails.
Marrone went right to his days under Shula and legendary Dolphins O-line coach John Sandusky, who held that job under Shula for 19 seasons. Sundusky, a former two-way NFL player and a four-time NFL champion, trained every single Dolphins offensive lineman how to play center.
It was religion, Marrone explained. Sandusky believed deeply in the need for every offensive lineman to have the skill set and the cross-training at center.
Sandusky was so big on it that he made Shula a believer and, per Marrone, Shula himself got his hands dirty helping coach guards and tackles the intricacies of center.
Of course, back in those days, teams had a ton more practices and time on the field.
Marrone remains in favor of guys getting cross-trained at center in case of emergency and for better knowledge of O-line play, though cross-training and a full position change is a different story.
Yesterday, Joe talked about the in-progress Marpet move with Ian Beckles, the former Bucs right guard and Tampa sports radio icon. Beckles is now heard on 102.5 FM, and on his weekly Flava In Ya Ear podcast.
Beckles said he’s a huge Marpet fan and likes the idea of Marpet moving to center because “center is a more important position,” the Bucs have had too much change at center, and America’s Quarterback, Jameis Winston, could use a consistent presence there for at least a few years to come.
Beckles said the Bucs must know already from practice that Marpet can handle the change and, particularly, that he’s smart enough to handle it.
“If Marpet’s as good at center as he is at guard, I would put him at center,” Beckles said. “I hope they know by now, because if he’s a below average center, then you’re messing things up. Because he’s a pretty damn good guard.”
Joe advised Beckles that Marpet has only practiced a little in pads at center, if at all, and really has no experience there.
Beckles then backed off a full endorsement of the move because it would be risky to give Marpet a lot of time to learn center on the job — on a team that’s expected to make the playoffs.
Beckles would prefer Marpet keep blossoming in his third year at guard.
“Don’t mess with that,” Beckles said. “The thing is, if you experiment and it doesn’t work, then you’re messing with some really good reps that he needed at guard.”