Can Collins Live Up To Hope?March 18th, 2014
When Bucs coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht spoke of their disappointment with last year’s Bucs offensive line, they sure were not kidding. With the possible exception of Demar Dotson, there may be a full cleaning of the O-line house.
Gone is Donald Penn. Gone is Davin Joseph. Jeremy Zuttah is rumored to be dangling as trade bait which, in the past week for the Bucs, is a precursor to an outright release. And, yes, Bucs fans won’t have to be tormented by Ted Larsen any longer, either.
But when Licht signed former Bengals offensive tackle Anthony Collins, it raised some eyebrows. To date, Collins has yet to start a full season. He’s got a massive contract for a guy that doesn’t have that on his resume.
Now it is pretty clear Penn’s contract did him in, even his biggest detractors would have to admit that Penn answered the bell each and every week. Bengals blogger Coley Harvey of BSPN (locals may remember when he covered Florida State for the Orlando Sentinel) believes Licht maybe have hit the lottery with Collins.
According to Pro Football Focus, we’re talking about a guy who hasn’t allowed a sack since 2009. Granted, he didn’t play much until last season. He was a pure backup from 2008 to 2012. In 2013, injuries forced him into a greater role. He earned seven starts between the playoffs and regular season last year and he didn’t disappoint. Called upon to fill in for Pro Bowl veteran Andrew Whitworth at Chicago in the season opener, Collins completely shut down sack king Julius Peppers. He did the same against Elvis Dumervil late in the year and kept outside linebacker Robert Mathis silent when the Colts visited Cincinnati. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has to be pleased with how clean Collins kept him.
Here is why Joe is, well, a pessimist about the current state of the offensive line. Granted, Collins did well as a backup. That’s fine. Starting 16 games is another animal. Harvey noted how solid Collins is as a pass blocker. Demar Dotson is a fine pass blocker, but struggles with run blocking (and he gets bullrushed way too much for Joe’s tastes). Lovie says he wants to run the ball.
So are Bucs fans to be confident pass blockers can effectively transform into rush blockers, as well? Or is this a tip off to the mystery of Jeff Tedford’s offense, that he will throw more than run?