BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line

November 22nd, 2008 analyst Steve Campbell gives Donald Penn a game ball for his performance against Minnesota. analyst Steve Campbell gives Donald Penn a game ball for his performance against Minnesota. Campbell also notes the Bucs running game is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry in the past four games. analyst Steve Campbell reviews the Bucs’ offensive line play against Minnesota. Campbell’s insight comes from many years in the trenches, including college and semi-pro ball.

Overall, it was a pretty good effort by the Bucs offensive line in a hard fought 19-13 victory over Minnesota. The running game, while not overly effective, was steady enough to give the Bucs nearly an eight minute time of possession advantage. Still, it’s been over a month since the Bucs have had what would be considered a “good running day.”

Since the Bucs ran for 142 yards on October 12 against Carolina, the running game has been for the most part missing in action.

In the four games since, the Bucs have run the ball a total of 116 times for only 335 yards. That is a paltry 2.9 yards per carry. And with workhorse Earnest Graham out for the season, there is a huge cause for concern that it won’t be much better the last six weeks of the season.

On the positive side, the pass protection has been fantastic. Tampa bay has only surrendered 11 sacks on the season. That’s good for fourth in the NFL. Only the Titans, Broncos, and Saints have protected their quarterbacks better. On to the individual analysis:

Donald Penn (LT): What more can I say about this guy? I’m hesitant to keep gushing over his performance, but week after week he keeps shutting down the best defensive ends in the league. This week it was Jared Allen’s turn to turn up on a milk carton. In case you don’t know, Allen is the highest paid and probably among the top three defensive ends in the game. Allen was limited to no sacks and two tackles. One of the tackles was on a Jeff Garcia scramble.

In fact, the Bucs ran left 14 times right off the hip of Penn and I only saw Allen notch one tackle of Warrick Dunn. Perhaps I underestimated Penn’s run blocking ability, because he was a mauler.

The good news for the Bucs is that Penn is scheduled to be exclusive an rights free agent after this season. He won’t be a restricted free agent until after the 2009 season. You can probably expect Penn’s agent to make some noise after this season, though, to try get the Bucs to extend him and give him a big raise. Oh, by the way, Penn gets another game ball.

Arron Sears (LG): Sears has played better as the season progressed. He had some trouble with Pat Williams on run downs Sunday, but frankly, better guards then Sears have struggled with Fat Pat. He got snowplowed on a crucial third-and-one where Dunn was stopped for a loss. I would like to give you a fancy description of why Sears struggled on that play, but I think it’s just a case of it’s hard to move 380 pounds of determined blubber. On the passing plays where he was matched up with All Pro defensive tackle Kevin Williams, Sears showed good feet and athleticism.

Jeff Faine (C): A very solid, consistent performance from Mr. Consistency himself. Faine did a nice job of giving help to whoever was matched up with Kevin Williams on passing plays and also picked up some nice A-gap blitzes from the Vikings linebackers.

Davin Joseph (RG): Joseph did a pretty nice job with the Williams’. He had a horrible holding call that nullified a Garcia to Antonio Bryant touchdown. On the play, Joseph didn’t show good feet which caused him to be beaten by a blitizing linebacker. He had no choice but to grab a handful of jersey of the Viking player. Luckily for Joseph and the Bucs, they scored a TD on the drive anyway.

Jeremy Trueblood (RT): Trueblood was penalized for an unnecessary roughness call early in the game in the Vikings red zone. The penalty killed the Bucs, because they went from a 3rd-and-2 on the Minnesota-17 to a 3rd-and-17 on the 32. After reviewing the play, I can see Trueblood’s point in his defense of himself. Warrick Dunn was not down, the whistle had not blown, and Vikings linebacker Ben Leber was trying to strip the ball out of Dunn’s hands. It’s a fine line, and it’s the type of penalty that’s called about 50 percent of the time. Not a bad game overall from Trueblood.

Comments are closed.