BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line

December 20th, 2008
There wasnt much to like with the Bucs loss to the Dixie Chicks last week. But analyst was fond of Davin Josephs play.

There wasn't much to like with the Bucs loss to the Dixie Chicks last week. But analyst Steve Campbell was fond of Davin Joseph's play.

By Steve Campbell analyst

It was another step backwards for the Bucs offensive line in the 13-10 loss to Atlanta. It wasn’t all poor physical play, but mentally, the Bucs shot themselves in the foot with some horrible penalties. Twice the Bucs had a third-and-one turn into a third-and-six because of procedure penalties. The Bucs went from a very manageable second-and-seven on the Falcons-8 to a third-and-28 on the 30-yard line thanks to penalties and a sack.

Only a nice 10-yard run by Warrick Dunn on that third down allowed the Bucs to get into high percentage field goal range and send the game into overtime.

The pass protection was spotty at best in Atlanta. John Abraham had three sacks; the last one on the aforementioned second-and-seven play hurt the most. Penn was beaten by Abraham on a move that was so devastating, that I don’t even know how to describe it.

The other two sacks by Abraham were coverage sacks. The last one on the third down on the Bucs only possession in overtime was all on Griese. Trueblood actually kept Abraham outside the pocket in which Griese could have stepped up into. But Griese inexplicably stepped to the right and into the path of Abraham.

The Bucs did a decent job of running the ball when they decided to. Of the two Bucs running backs, Cadillac Williams looks like the fresher and more effective runner compared to Dunn. I think Jon Gruden is being cautious with Williams, but I would like to see him get a few more carries if he is up to it. Some of his better runs were in the fourth quarter on Sunday.

Before going on to the individual grades, I have a word of advice for Bucs fans: RELAX.

Yeah, these last two games really hurt, and more than likely the chance of winning the division and gaining a first round playoff bye are out the window now. But the Bucs are still 9-5 and have a real good chance of finishing 11-5. Who knows? The Bucs could beat San Diego Sunday and then the Panthers could very easily lose at the Meadowlands to the Giants. The Panthers then would have to beat a dangerous New Orleans team on the road (do I need to remind you of the NFC South home record this season?) while the Bucs host a putrid Oakland Raiders team on the last week of the season at the CITS.

At 9-5, the Bucs are about where they should be this year. Face it; Carolina is just probably a little bit better than the Bucs are right now. I still like the Bucs as a team better than the Falcons, but with the amount of mental mistakes the Bucs made last Sunday, the outcome was inevitable.

On to the grades:

Donald Penn (LT): Penn had his troubles with Abraham, but who doesn’t? Maybe my eyes are deceiving me, but it looks to me like Penn has been packing on the pounds as the season has progressed. This is not a good sign. To play left tackle in this league and to be paid well to do it, you need to have quick feet and not be a slob. Maybe the extra weight has affected his play in the past few weeks?

Arron Sears (LG): Lately, the only time I see Sears look really good is when he pulls. He also handled Jonathan Babineaux a lot better than he did in September. But he still struggles in pass protection. The sack he gave up to Grady Jackson was a case of this. Jackson is not known for his pass rushing ability. With a big strong, slow player like Jackson, you’re always ready for the bull rush, because that’s all he has in his arsenal. You step back, lower your hips, and anchor your back foot. Somehow, Sears let Jackson get under him and push him right into Griese. I won’t go into Griese’s pocket presence — or lack, thereof — but the word “statue” springs to mind.

Jeff Faine (C): Before last week, I was thinking if any of the Bucs offensive lineman made the Pro Bowl, it would be Faine. While he isn’t overwhelming, he has been the most consistent member of the line. Well, maybe the Pro Bowl voters watched the Falcons game. This was the first bad game I can remember Faine really having.

Faine really struggled with Grady Jackson in the run game. Not real surprising given Faine’s lack of size and that Jackson weighs about 370 pounds. It doesn’t get any easier this week when big Jamal Williams, who anchors the Chargers 3-4 defense, comes to town.

Davin Joseph (RG): It was hard to find much wrong with Joseph’s game. I love his aggressiveness in the run game. Several times I saw a massive body with flying dreads come crashing into the pile. He also held his own in the passing game.

Jeremy Trueblood (RT): It’s really been a rough couple of weeks for Jeremy. But I’m hearing some crazy stuff from uninformed callers on radio show and fans on various Bucs message boards. People are ready to throw this third year player under the bus and already talking about who might be are right tackle next year. That is CRAZY talk. Trueblood struggled with Abraham this week and Julius Peppers last week. He’s also shut down a few top notch defensive ends this season. Players like Adawale Ogunyele, Aaron Kampman, and Patrick Kerney.

Why are fans so quick to give up on such young players? I’m actually more concerned about the amount of penalties by Trueblood in the past few weeks.

Game ball: Joseph.

2 Responses to “BREAKDOWN: Offensive Line”

  1. Kris Says:

    Great article. You make it so easy to understand the game. Thanks!

  2. TheOriginalProfessor Says:

    Is it too early for Buc fans to start worrying yet?