BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line

November 1st, 2008 analyst Steve Campbell awards this weeks offensive line game ball to Donald Penn. analyst Steve Campbell awards this week's offensive line game ball to Donald Penn. analyst Steve Campbell reviews the Bucs’ offensive line play in Week 8.

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.

One of the disadvantages of having a young offensive line is no matter how talented they are, they are going to be inconsistent. That was the case Sunday in Dallas.

To say the offense sputtered would be kind. But not all the blame should go to the offensive line. This was the textbook definition of a team loss on the offensive side of the ball.

First, Jon Gruden called a pretty poor game. I thought he gave up on the run way too early. A perfect example would be in the fourth quarter. After the Bucs kicked a field goal to make the score 13-9, the Bucs defense held Dallas to a three-and-out. After the punt, the Bucs took over on their own 43. Great field position, and time to pound the rock, right?

Nope. Garcia threw three incompletions in a row, and the Bucs punted.

Immediately after that possession, the Cowboys had another three-and-out and punted again. This time the Bucs took over on their own 42 with 11:34 left in the game. On first down, Gruden actually called a running play and Graham gained four yards. That’s a positive first down play.

But then Garcia threw a short pass for three yards and another incompletion. The Bucs offense would not see the ball again until their final drive of the game with four minutes left.

The second culprit of the poor offensive game was quarterback Jeff Garcia, who was outstanding the previous two weeks against Carolina and Seattle. Garcia resorted to his early-season happy feet ways. Like the New Orleans game, Garcia wouldn’t set his feet, sometimes with little or no pressure. This results in inaccurate passes. His sack late in the second quarter when he scrambled right was inexcusable. Garcia was out of the pocket, so he could have thrown the ball away and the Bucs would have had a 42-yard field goal attempt.

But Garcia’s sack pushed the Bucs out of Matt Bryant’s range.

On to the individual offensive line evaluations.

Donald Penn, LT: Penn was left one-on-one with pass rushing specialist DeMarcus Ware quite a bit. Ware had a sack in his tenth consecutive game, but Penn goose-egged him. I’ve said it before, but I wish I was Penn’s agent because Penn will get a big raise this offseason. Penn gets this week’s game ball.

Arron Sears, LG: Sears is playing a bit better than he was earlier in the season. Still, I don’t like his pass sets. But he’s picking it up in the run game.

Jeff Faine, C: Not the best game for Faine. Dallas defensive tackle Jay Ratliff, who is having a great year, gave him problems.

Davin Joseph, RG: Joseph was beaten by Tank Johnson early in the game on a crucial third-and-one play that was stuffed. The Bucs need more from him if he is going to be the elite guard that some people consider him to be.

Jeremy Trueblood, RT: Trueblood didn’t play all that well, and seemed to let his frustration get the best of him. I like the fire, but he needs to stay more composed.

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