BREAKDOWN: Offensive LineSeptember 19th, 2008
JoeBucsFan.com analyst Steve Campbell reviews the Bucs’ offensive line play in Week 2 and projects what fans can expect against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
The Bucs’ offensive line turned in a satisfactory effort Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons. The Bucs ran the ball 27 times for 165 yards for a gaudy 6.1 yards per carry average.
Currently, the Bucs lead the NFL in that statistic at 6.5 yards per carry. There’s no way to get around how impressive that is for a young line that is missing its potential best player right now. Granted, the two defenses the Bucs have faced so far are below average, and the Bucs will see a much better defense Sunday at Soldier Field. More on that nasty bunch later. Now, on to the grades:
Donald Penn: I can’t explain how pleasantly surprised I am with the play of Penn. Yeah, he did give up the sack to John Abraham that caused a crucial fumble in the red zone. But like the sack he gave up to McCray, it was a situation of a quarterback holding on to the ball too long. I’m not saying he dominated Abraham. He had his hands full at times. In fact, on Warrick Dunn’s 17-yard touchdown run, Penn was beaten and is real lucky he wasn’t called for holding. But Abraham has made far more experienced and talented left tackles look silly in his career. Good all around day for the second year man from Utah State. B+
Arron Sears: Like Michael Clayton and Cadillac Williams, after a great rookie year, Sears seems to be in the midst of a bad sophomore slump. Sears was used all day long by Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux. Maybe Jonathan read my scouting report last week where I claimed he “didn’t bring much to the table,” because he beat Sears like he stole something. Arron is still having trouble in his pass sets, and even struggled in the run game Sunday. The good news is, on the plays where he did his job, he did it in his familiar overpowering way. So he just needs to work on his consistency. D
Jeff Faine: I’ll admit, I’ve been less than impressed with Faine when he is faced with the task of moving one of the big defensive tackles off the ball. But, as expected, he’s good in space and gets to the second level. It was an average day, but they need more this week against the Bears, and that’s why they paid him like they did. C
Jeremy Zuttah: Zuttah held his own again. I didn’t see anything to discourage me from thinking he will be a big part of this franchise for a long time. B-
Jeremy Trueblood: Now this game showed the Jeremy Trueblood we have all waited to see. I really wish Bucs offensive line coaches Bill Muir and George Yarno made their grades public, because I would love to see what Trueblood graded out at. I honestly thought he played his best game as a Buccaneer. He was great in pass protection, and he simply rag-dolled people in the run game. Outstanding effort. A
As I mentioned earlier, the Bucs will face a much better defense than the one they saw in the first two weeks. The Bears are led by what may be the best and deepest defensive line in the league. Penn and Trueblood will have their hands full with the defensive ends; Alex Brown and Adawale Ogunleye are equally fierce against the run and the pass.
In the middle, the Bucs will have to deal with the three-man tandem of Tommie Harris, Dusty Dvoracek, and rookie Marcus Harrison. I’m not sure what is going on with Harris, but his playing time has been reduced so far this season. Last week he was only in on 20+ plays while the Bears went with Dvoracek and Harrison. Dvoracek, who has only played one game in his first two NFL seasons due to injury, was credited with nine tackles in the loss to Carolina. That is a very active day for somebody playing the NT position.
The Bucs are going to need to run the ball early and STAY WITH IT, even if they don’t gain significant yards. They don’t want Brian Griese chucking the ball all over the field against this opportunistic defense.