BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line

December 7th, 2008 analyst Steve Campbell lauds Jeremy Trueblood for his play last week against the Saints and explains how quarterback Jeff Garcia sometimes makes his offensive line look bad. analyst Steve Campbell lauds Jeremy Trueblood for his play last week against the Saints and explains how quarterback Jeff Garcia sometimes makes his offensive line look bad.

By Steve Campbell Analyst

Like the Bucs as a team, Tampa Bay’s offensive line played just well enough to get a win against New Orleans. Facing a mediocre defense in bad weather conditions wasn’t conducive to favorable offensive results.

This much is clear: Jeff Garcia is not a mudder.

Garcia played arguably his worst game of the season last Sunday in the rain. I’m not going to beat up too much on Garcia. How can you beat up on a guy who is married to this? But also, I can’t slam Garcia because he’s played very well the last few weeks, and maybe he was due for a performance like last Sunday. As much as Garcia helped the Bucs with his effective scrambles, his lack of composure in the pocket cost the Bucs with several sacks that weren’t the fault of any lineman.

As a lineman, there’s nothing worse than taking a perfect pass set and pass blocking effectively, only to have your quarterback run directly towards the lineman you were blocking. Garcia did this three times on Sunday where it resulted in sacks. If I had to guess, this is probably the main area of Garcia’s game that Chucky has a problem with. If you recall when Chucky coached the Oakland Raiders, quarterback Rich Gannon, as mobile as he was, was very good at staying in the pocket. This is the only area of Garcia’s game that is below average.

The running game was solid yet unspectacular against New Orleans. I’m really looking forward to Cadillac Williams getting more carries this week for two reasons: First, I think Warrick Dunn is much more effective as a 10-carry, 5-catch a game back. It seems the more he carries the ball the less effective he becomes.

Second, Cadillac showed a nice burst twice last Sunday. Once on a fourth-and-one play where he gained seven yards and also on his nine- yard touchdown run. Cadillac is a forgotten luxury. Most fans dismiss his solid rookie season as a fluke and say he’s nothing more than an average runner. Here’s something to remember, though: Cadillac made his living in 2005 running behind Anthony Davis, Dan Buenning, John Wade, Sean Mahan and Kenyatta Walker (just typing those names brings back horrid memories). It was mostly the same line in 2006, but Williams was also saddled with the awful quarterback play of Chris Simms and Bruce Gradkowski.

In 2007, in just over three games Williams had 208 yards and three touchdowns. My point is, Earnest Graham gets a lot of credit, most of it deserved, for his breakout 2007 season, but he had a much better line to run behind than Williams ever did. I think Cadillac, if his knee is truly healthy – and that’s a big if – will be a pleasant surprise to most Bucs fans.

On to the Saints game evaluations:

Donald Penn (LT): Penn had his hands full with defensive end Will Smith. Smith was in on eight tackles and was a bear on the pass rush. Penn held him out for the most part, though. On the 38-yard touchdown pass to Antonio Bryant, Smith threw a nice outside-inside double move, but Penn, who is great about taking good pass sets with his feet, recovered beautifully to give Garcia just enough time to hit Bryant for the touchdown. The bad news for Penn is that he gets to face Julius Peppers this week. It’s never easy for a left tackle in this league (sigh).

Arron Sears (LG): Sears pulled quite a bit in the run game. The Bucs ran to the right a majority of the time, with Sears pulling from the left side bringing a lot of thump. Sears looked pretty solid in the run game and had little trouble with Kendrick Clancy on the passing downs.

Jeff Faine (C): Faine seems to be playing better every week. I can’t stress enough how good Faine is getting to linebackers on running plays. He will need to keep that up Monday night against outstanding middle linebacker John Beason, who is a hard-hitting speedball that will have to be slowed down.

Davin Joseph (RG): Joseph mostly had his way with rookie first round pick Sedrick Ellis, who is a good-looking young defensive tackle (but not in that kind of way. Not that there’s anything wrong with that). Joseph manhandled Ellis in the run game. Ellis’ bullrush seemed to give Joseph some trouble on the passing downs, though.

Jeremy Trueblood (RT): The stats will show that Trueblood gave up two sacks to Saints defensive Bobby McCray. Sometimes stats lie, and this was the case with McCray’s sacks. One was a coverage sack where Trueblood gave Garcia adequate time, and the other was one of those plays where Garcia inexplicably scrambled into the line. What I really loved Sunday was Trueblood’s play in the run game. Jeremy is 6-8, but you would never know it watching him chip the end and get to the outside linebacker. He’s a very nimble big man, and his strength is evident when he gets his hands on defenders. Great job.

Game ball: Trueblood.

One Response to “BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line”

  1. renae kinsey Says:

    Dear Joe bucs fan analyst:

    Great writing……… really know your shit!!! I heard my husband screaming on this last game Monday night how awful Ronde Barber was.
    Do you have any thing posted on your site regarding the MOnday night football game? Id love to see it. Thanks!! And Merry Christmas