BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line

September 26th, 2008 analyst Steve Campbell is almost giddy over the play of offensive tackle Donald Penn in the Bucs overtime win over the Bears. analyst Steve Campbell is almost giddy over the play of offensive tackle Donald Penn in the Bucs overtime win over the Bears. analyst Steve Campbell reviews the Bucs’ offensive line play in Week 3 and projects what fans can expect against the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.

Campbell was a NCAA Division I offensive lineman and played semi-pro football in the 1990s (he likes to say he was a tackling dummy for a future NFL defensive tackle). His analysis appears weekly.

If you would have told me that the Bucs would have attempted 67 passes and only 17 runs against Chicago’s defense, I would have predicted a Bears win by at least 21 points and Brian Griese to be taken from the Soldier Field turf on a stretcher. The fact that the Bucs not only won, but that Griese was not sacked in 67 pass attempts is amazing.

First, I’ve been quick to criticize Jon Gruden for his tendency to abandon the run early this season, but I think he had no choice in this game. Look at these numbers:

   * The Bears had eight defensive players in the box on nearly half of the Buccaneer offensive plays.

   * They had nine in the box on 19 of the 84 offensive plays.

Any time the Bucs went to an Ace formation (two tight ends, two running backs, one wide receiver),, the Bears immediately brought both safeties up to the line and covered the lone receiver man-to-man with a cornerback. That’s a “loaded box” look. The Bears virtually had a man in every gap, and that makes it impossible to run.

What Chicago was saying was, “You don’t have Joey Galloway. We don’t respect Brian Griese. You can’t beat us passing the ball.”

Give the Bears credit, because for three and a half quarters, it did work.

So, I’m going to give Gruden credit for showing trust in his players to make it happen for him. According to Griese, Gruden told him in the beginning of the fourth quarter that he was going to throw on virtually every play. He put the game in Griese’s hands. And forgotten players like Antonio Bryant, Michael Clayton, and Jerramy Stevens emerged as playmakers.

I know it’s early, but the Buccaneer offense is currently ranked No. 7 in the NFL. Do we finally have an offense in Tampa Bay? It starts up front, so if this line is as good or potentially good as I think they are, we may be in for a good offensive year for a change.

I can’t say enough about the pass protection of the offensive line on Sunday. Let’s go to the grades:

Donald Penn: If Penn keeps this level of play up, he is going to make a serious amount of money next season. Penn absolutely stoned Bears defensive end, Alex Brown, who made all of one play Sunday, and that was a play where Penn blocked down on a linebacker. An example of Penn’s outstanding play was on the Bucs first scoring drive on the 31 yard pass play to Stevens. Brown, who has exceptional speed as an outside pass rusher, used an inside move on the play and appeared to have beat Penn and moved in on Griese. But Penn showed outstanding feet and recovered by pushing Brown past Griese which allowed Griese to step up and hit Stevens in stride. Grade: A

Arron Sears: A much better effort from Sears, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. He picked up a lot of A-gap blitzes from the Bears speedy linebackers. Grade: B

Jeff Faine: Faine was probably mentally exhausted after this game just from making the line calls. The Bears blitzed on 57 plays Sunday and Faine is responsible for making the adjustments to pick up those blitzes. Grade: B

Jeremy Zuttah: Another solid effort from the rookie. He showed his intelligence by not being rattled by Chicago’s confusing schemes. Grade: B

Jeremy Trueblood: Trueblood was outstanding in protecting the passer on Sunday. Adewale Ogunleye is a top notch pass rusher and he Jeremy stoned him all day. Ogunleye did beat him on some running plays, however. And let me state this: I’ve read a lot of whining about Jeremy Trueblood’s “dirty” and “foolish” plays from Bucs fans on various message boards. As I’ve said before, as long as Jeremy knows how to walk the line and not be the one that is “caught,” I have no problem with his aggressiveness. In fact, I welcome it. As an offensive lineman, it can really work to your advantage to have the defensive lineman coming after you every play instead of your quarterback. Keep it up, Jeremy. Grade: B-

The Green Bay Packers come to Raymond James Stadium on Sunday, and they have shown some weakness against the run this season. They are currently No. 26 in the league and giving up 151 yards per game rushing. Left defensive end Aaron Kampman is a very active pass rushing end. Trueblood will have to be on top of his game on Sunday.

The Packers right defensive end, Cullen Jenkins, has primarily been a run-stopping end, but he does have 2.5 sacks already this year. He usually slides down to defensive tackle on passing downs and Kabeer Gbaja-Biamilla (KGB) comes in to play the right defensive end position.

Up the middle the Packers use mammoth defensive tackles Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly. Both Pickett and Jolly are pretty solid against the run, but don’t get to the quarterback too often. The good news is the Bucs are expected to get right guard Davin Joseph back from his foot injury this week. He has practiced all week, but the Bucs have been tight-lipped about his availability this weekend. They apparently were very cautious with his rehab, so if he is practicing, I would expect that he would play quite a bit.

6 Responses to “BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line”

  1. Chicago Billy Says:

    The Packers will come out with 9 & 10 man frotns and just DARE teh Bucs to beat them wiht the pass again! 🙂

    ohh yaeh, Pack +1

    you’re welcome


  2. renae kinsey Says:

    Steve Campbell was right on target with the grading system.
    I truly enjoyed the article and was given the link to a friend.
    I am a diehard female bucs fan and would love to see a pic of the writer in the next article. Thanks for the great reading and GO BUCS

  3. crackerick Says:

    Please no pictures of guys, thank you. Pack +1. There’s no reason to bet on this game. Nobody really knows how good either of these teams are.

  4. Maltese Falcon Says:

    The bucs are awesome. And I like the author of this article. He sounds Hot.

  5. Vic from Alabama Says:

    Steve, I think you are right on target. Our offensive line may have a ways to go…but, I think they are on the right track. Great insight!

  6. Chris Says:


    Take that Cheese Heads!