BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line

October 11th, 2008 analyst Steve Campbell was impressed with guard Davin Josephs play in his first game coming off an injured foot. analyst Steve Campbell was impressed with guard Davin Joseph's play in his first game coming off an injured foot. analyst Steve Campbell reviews the Bucs’ offensive line play in Week 5 and projects what fans can expect against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

In the 1990s, Campbell was a NCAA Division I lineman and played semipro football (he likes to say he was a tackling dummy for a future NFL defenisve tackle). His analysis appears here weekly.

The Bucs’ offensive line had a return to earth game Sunday at Invesco Field in Denver. Penalties were the main culprit this time. Lacking a vertical threat with Joey Galloway still injured, first-and-15 and first-and-20 are next to impossible for this offense to convert.

So, the encouraging thing is that the breakdowns were more mental than physical. Still, these penalties have to stop, because the defense they are facing this week at Raymond James Stadium will thrive on bad down and distance situations.

I still don’t like the run/pass ratio called by head coach Jon Gruden. The Bucs rushed 21 times for 133 yards. Once again, that’s a very efficient average and for a game in which the Bucs didn’t trail by a large margin, Gruden can do better than a 37/21 pass/run ratio. I realize that this ratio was altered by the first down penalties, but they simply have to run the ball this week against the Panthers.

On to the grades:

LT Donald Penn: Penn was beaten badly on an inside move by Ebunezer Ekuban for a sack early in the game. The inside move is something that Penn has struggled with in the past two weeks. Grade: C

LG Arron Sears: Not a bad game for Sears. He cleaned up his pass blocking and was adequate in the run game. Grade: B-

C Jeff Faine: This actually may have been Faine’s best game as a Bucs lineman. Nothing extraordinary, but a solid job. Grade: B

RG Davin Joseph: For a guy who missed the first four games, Joseph didn’t show a whole lot of rust. He threw a really nice seal block on MLB Nate Webster to spring Warrick Dunn on his 38 yard run. Really nice technique shown by the third year guard from Oklahoma. Grade: B

RT Jeremy Trueblood: Blocking a DE 10-inches shorter than him proved to be a difficult task for Trueblood. He was a little too upright in his pass sets, a habit that Jeremy had seemed to avoid this season. Trueblood also needs to stay mentally focused this week and avoid the false start penalties. Still, I’m not going to rail on Jeremy too bad. This was his first “bad” game of the season after three outstanding games in a row. Grade: D

The Carolina Panthers bring a defense to town that seems to have regained some of the prominence it lost last season. As always, the Panthers defense revolves around All Pro defensive end, Julius Peppers. Peppers, who had a mysteriously quiet 2007, has moved to the right side and seems poised for a big year. With a solid performance, this could be a money-making game for Donald Penn.

On the inside, the Panthers use gigantic Maake Kemotua (6-1, 350) and Damione Lewis to plug the middle. As a rookie, Sears had his way with Lewis last year. The game in Carolina, in which the Bucs rushed for 200 yards was one of the more impressive games I had witnessed by a rookie guard in the NFL. The Bucs will need that again this week from Sears and Joseph if they expect to have a chance this Sunday.

 Trueblood will face the tandem of Tyler Brayton and Charles Johnson. Johnson is a player out of the University of Georgia that I really liked in college. He seems to be coming into his own in his second year.

Make no mistake, the Bucs will have to establish the run to have a chance this week. If they don’t, the Panthers will pin their ears back. With happy-feet Garcia back at quarterback expect the Bucs to use a lot of play action rollout type plays. That seemed to give the Panthers fits in Carolina last season.

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